Our Experience at French Laundry Restaurant Napa Valley

Our Experience at French Laundry Restaurant Napa Valley

When my friend Hsiao told us that she got us reservations for 4 on a Saturday evening to the French Laundry restaurant, I was in disbelief. Jacob and I were taking a walk outside when I heard the news, and I was literally jumping up and down like a lunatic.

Originally, I felt reluctant to share about our experience here, because I know some people can never imagine spending so much money on food. However, this place has been on our bucket list for a long time, and this was an opportunity of a lifetime for us. While others would be happy to spend their money on remodeling their home or a new car, since we’ve been married we talked about collecting experiences over things. To each their own to what they find more worthwhile.

The French Laundry Restaurant Menu for the Day.
The Blue Door at the French Laundry Restaurant.

So the biggest question people ask is “WAS IT WORTH IT?”

I’m not sure if every dish they served fit my personal palette, but I couldn’t complain about how well they prepared and cooked their food. Because I’m huge on texture, I was thoroughly impressed to see that they nailed it every time. It certainly raised the bar for me, but I also have not been to many Michelin star restaurants to compare. I know I’m no expert in the kitchen, but even if I picked one of the dishes and repeatedly cooked it for the rest of my life, I don’t even think I could get that type of consistency. Looks like being a chef is definitely not in my future. Ha. BUT if any of you want to give it a go, Thomas Keller has a French Laundry Cookbook. Let me know how it goes!

I would only recommend eating here to people who are huge food lovers or have lots of expendable income. Jacob wanted to be there to experience it with me, but he would have never gone on his own. We also probably would never pay to go a second time, but yes, it was worth the splurge once.

Some yelpers have complained that it’s the most pretentious experience and how you’re paying people to be rude to you. I was a little worried about this, but to our surprise everyone was extremely friendly! It makes me wonder if their rudeness was just a response to the attitudes of the diners.

THE FRENCH LAUNDRY RESTAURANT MENU:

The night before the staff and Thomas Keller get together in the kitchen to decide on the menu for the next day depending on what is most fresh and available. When we went, this is what the menu offered:

Oysters and Pearls (right) – “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar. Royal Ossetra Caviar (left) – Cauliflower “Bavarois,” Maine Lobster “Gelée,” Horsradish Creme Fraiche and Toasted Brioche.

On The French Laundry Restaurant Menu.

Salade Vert – Young Fennel, Garden Cucumbers, Green Tomatoes, Brokaw Avocado, Castelvetrano Olives and Green Goddess Dressing:

Salade Vert on the French Laundry Restaurant Menu.

Slow-cooked Fillet of Wild King Salmon – Crispy Sacramento Delta Asparagus, Garden Beets, Creamed Arrowleaf Spinach and Ruby Beat Essence (This one was the most photogenic, so it deserved two photos):

The French Laundry Yountville Menu: Slow-Cooked Fillet of Wild King Salmon.
On The French Laundry Menu: Slow-Cooked Fillet of Wild King Salmon.

Georges Bank Sea Scallop “Poêlée” – Sweet Corn “Porridge,” Chanterelle Mushrooms, Brooks Cherries and Watercress Salad:

On The French Laundry Restaurant Menu: Georges Bank Sea Scallop "Poêlée" .

Herb-Roasted Four Story Hill Farm Poularde – Garlic Scapes, Cerignola Olives, Opal Basil and Spiced Tomato Conserve:

Herb-Roasted Four Story Hill Farm Poularde at The French Laundry Restaurant.

“Chateaubriand” Of Marcho Farms Nature-Fed Veal – English Peas, “Pomme Fondante,” Pickled Ramps and Morel Mushroom “Blanquette”:

"Chateaubriand" Of Marcho Farms Nature-Fed Veal on the French Laundry Restaurant Menu.

Charcoal-Grilled Japanese Wagyu – “Petit Oignon Farci,” Oregon Cèpes, Garden Carrots and “Sauce Bordelaise”:

Charcoal-Grilled Japanese Wagyu at The French Laundry Napa.

Andante Dairy “Acapella” – Silverado Trail Strawberries, Graham Cracker, Cutting Celery and Pink Peppercorn “Gastrique”:

Andante Dairy "Acapella" at the French Laundry Restaurant.

Assortment of Desserts – Fruit, Ice Cream, Chocolate and “Candies” (most pictured in the first photo).

Assortment of Desserts at the French Laundry California.

THE FRENCH LAUNDRY RESERVATIONS:

Reservations are extremely difficult to get. You take what you can get. We’ve been wanting to go for years, and Jacob gave up on taking me for our anniversary after calling for two months straight at 10 AM on the dot every day. They only open reservations two months in advance, and he told me that it’s harder to get reservations at FL than to win something on the radio. When Hsiao got us reservations, we moved our schedule around and road tripped back up to SF just for this. I had been in SF earlier that month too!

PRO TIPS ON HOW TO GET A RESERVATION AT FRENCH LAUNDRY: 

  • Check Open Table for cancellations. This is how we got in. You must check every day with different combinations of times and number of people.
  • It’s generally easier to book a larger party of 10 by phone, because they have a separate queue. We found that there are not  are and they do not take reservations further in. We couldn’t get a confirmation.
  • Rumors are that it’s easier to book through American Express Black / Platinum’s concierge service. You can also stay at a hotel in Yountville / Napa Valley and try booking through their conceirge or through the Google concierge if you know someone who works at google. We haven’t confirmed whether this is true or not.
  • For more detailed tips visit this forum.

FRENCH LAUNDRY PRICES:

The Chef’s Tasting and the Tasting of Vegetables were Prix Fixed. There were three upgrades available and were 75-100 extra per course. (None of us knew what to expect other than the prix fixed prices, but this one came a bit as a shock to Jacob). Wine was 100 per half bottle. Service was included.

Pro Tip: Go with more people to split the cost of upgrades and try different dishes.

The French Laundry Restaurant Napa Valley.
The French Laundry Yountville California.
The French Laundry Restaurant.

The French Laundry
6640 Washington St
Yountville CA 94599
707.944.2380

Is French Laundry on your bucket list?
Do you like splurging on food?
If not, what are the things you’d rather splurge on?

xoxo estherJacob

This Post Has 44 Comments

  1. ouch that price tag! I don’t know if I’d ever eat food that expensive, even if it was to die for! but looks like you enjoyed yourself!

  2. I just left this at Hsiao’s blog, but I felt like it fit for your post too!!! :)

    “This is so awesome that you and Esther went together with your husbands! I’m glad that it was a good experience and you didn’t experience any snobbery with the staff and all of the dishes were cooked excellently.

    I’ve never had a meal this expensive but I do want to do fine dining at this level at some point. I really want to do Victoria and Alberts at Walt Disney World.”

    Since you guys weren’t RAVING, I’m not sure I’d try it… I think I’d like to go somewhere like Noma in Denmark, where Anthony Bourdain was all like “this is on another level” in his Parts Unknown series. But this post DOES inspire me and make me want to eat fine dining RIGHT NOW. SO HUNGRY.

    1. p.s. you all look so nice!!!!!

    2. I don’t know that I will ever be somewhere that I will completely be blown away by everything. I think everyone has such a specific palette that it might be impossible to match it every single time.. but I would say FL was pretty spot on most of the time. I think when you are paying a good amount of money, you set your expectations really high. Maybe sometimes too high. :)

  3. Oh wow, such nice pics!

    1. Thanks Amberly! :) I wish I knew how to style food like this when I cooked.

  4. oh my gosh that looks amazing! Beautiful photos!!!

  5. That looks AMAZING! I’m all for doing things just to try them, even if they aren’t something I would do every day (or even ever again.) I definitely try this once just to see what it was like. :)

    1. haha i hate “YOLO” but i know i want to experience everything since you only live once. :P

  6. Looks like such a beautiful meal. Great photography!

  7. It looks amazing and like you said it’s an experience you loved though won’t be going back. I would as well to experience it at least once x

    1. Thank you! Definitely. I’m all about collecting new experiences. :) I don’t think Jacob would ever let me go back. haha

  8. I would love to try a hugely fancy meal sometime – just for the experience! Those macaroons look amazing.

    1. I think it’s great to at least experience once. :) I just like to experience almost everything just once!

  9. My goodness – the photos are just gorgeous! And you’re right – it’s all about the experience and this looks like a great one!

  10. hmm.. i probably wouldn’t spend lavishly on one meal, however my relatives in france take my parents out when they visit and i hear all their meals are this lavish. so you could look at it this way… your meal is still cheaper than flying to paris AND buying the meal!

    yall look so gorgeous. *sulk sulk* wish i could’ve been there!

    1. haha but that’s like travel AND food! i feel like you would appreciate the food there.

  11. I adore The French Laundry. Anything up north for that matter. I really need to leave the city for a trip up there soon. Thanks for the inspiration :D

    1. i know wine country is always so beautiful! :) what was your fave dish at FL?

  12. Great pictures! It’s nice to splurge sometimes and treat ourselves!

    1. thank you! :) i agree. as long as it’s within your means and not excessive, i think it’s completely fine!

  13. the pictures look awesome! so much better than mine…

    1. haha thanks! you should take a photography class! :) or if you get a dslr, i can show you a few things.

      1. do i need a dslr to tak ea photography class? hmm maybe … it’s just so big and bulky to carry around!

        1. hmm depends on the class. I’m sure they have random classes on how to take photos with a phone etc.. but if you want to take photos like above, you need a dslr.

  14. The AMEX card thing works. That’s how I got my reservations. :)

    1. Good to know!! :) So maybe the concierge services in general just work much better.

  15. I’m glad you did the post!! I’m crazy jealous and this is on my bucket list of places I REALLY want to go. I’m obsessed. It looks amazing :) It is a once in a lifetime experience and sometimes you just have to splurge!

    1. :D You need to go!! I’m actually curious what you will end up getting since they change the menu everyday.

  16. That is so cool that you got to go! I’d love to do it, but it is pretty expensive and I don’t think it’s really to M’s taste. Either way, what a great experience!

  17. You and Jacob look so nice!! How great that you got to try something so extravagant. To me that is totally worth the price if it’s something that’s once in a lifetime or something you’ve been wanting to do for a while. I’m kind of a picky eater, so this wouldn’t be a good fit for me, but for people that are really into food like you guys it looks awesome! I will say that Japanese Wagyu looks really appetizing at this very moment!

    1. Thanks Jess. :) Yeah, I was talking about this earlier today.. but I’d rather have one great meal over 20 okay meals. I’m a really picky eater as well, so that’s why I can’t say I loved everything I ate.. but I definitely got a taste for how things should be cooked if they were cooked perfectly. :D

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