Well....it takes my breath away to talk about The French Laundry. The restaurant, tucked into a turn of the century stone building at the North end of Washington St. in Yountville, is a Relais & Chateaux restaurant. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relais_&_Chateaux
So, having said that, one only expects the very best service, the very best food, and the very best dishes, glassware, and combination of all the elements for their guest's comforts and desires. The French Laundry was just recently awarded a Michelin 3 star, the only such award for a restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area. His restaurant Per Se in New York was also awarded a Michelin 3 star. He is on a roll with his Bouchon, and Ad Hoc, both in Yountville. He more recently opened Bouchon Bakery. www.bouchonbakery.com
It was very chilly last night (50 degrees and quickly dropping) when we arrived at 6:30 pm to meet our friends for a 7:00pm dinner at the French Laundry. They seated us upstairs in a private room around a beautiful table with fresh flowers. The velvet blue chairs sliding smoothly across the wood floors as we each took our chair. We started with a warm cheese puff, not an auspicious start, but delicious nonetheless. Our second starter was a cone of salmone tartare, creme fraiche and topped with salmon roe. A beautiful presentation and a delicious way to begin any meal.
Our next few courses were elegantly presented and a delicious set of tastes combining to tingle our taste buds. We all oohed and ahhed when plates were set in front of us, synchronized and choreographed like a ballet. As I looked around the table, my own taste buds alerted to tart, salt, sweet, tangy, rich, or creamy, our friends were closing their eyes as if to taste it all the more. Each plate was executed with the most care and discretion of ingredients. Portions were larger than Meadowood Restaurant the night before, and so before long, we were all feeling the effects. However, we still had what we thought was three more dessert courses, but turned out to be five more, including, a pear sorbet palette cleanser, a cheese course with a gingerbread cake, chocolate flourless cake with mango, a lemon tartlet, and the topper, a selection of stunning truffles. We were all leaning back uncomfortably by the end and no wonder it was 12:30am. We had eaten close to seventeen courses over five and a half hours.
Here are some of the highlights.....
Maine Lobster tail, baby beets, cucumber and sorrel in a "Creme au Raifort"
Chicken with Caponata, Cauliflower Fleurettes and Arugula.
Foie Gras with Navel Oranges, Cranberries, Celery and Honey was served with a selection of salts to complement the duck liver.
Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm with Broccolini, Red Radish, Beech Mushrooms, Mizuna and Ginger
Scharfe Maxx Cheese gourmetlibrary.com/products/45021-Scharfe-Maxx Course of a sharp Cow's milk cheese from Switzerland with Hobbs Bacon and Garnet Yam, Cippolini Onions, and Dijon Mustard. Following the cheese came a flourless chocolate cake Gateau Saint Nizier with Valrhona cocoa nibs, lime foam and coconut milk sorbet.
We thought we had ended a perfectly delicious meal, when another set of servers arrived and began setting down a beautiful lemon tartlet with an empty plate next to it. As we all speculated on what the empty silver plate could be, another server arrived with a large platter of truffles in every flavor imaginable; mint, green tea, pumpkin, caramel, and peanut butter. Simply the best way to end a meal.
We all carried our shortbread gift baggies out the door with us, with a promise to have them for breakfast.....fat chance! The longest and most relaxing dinner I have had in years. Happy 50th Birthday Frank and Bon Appetite!