The French Laundry Yountville Restaurant Review
San Francisco 2010: Part 1
The drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Our timing was perfect, and we had had very little traffic by the time we were over the Golden Gate Bridge, so we stopped for a bite at the In and Out burger. I did my research and insisted we have “Animal Style” cheeseburgers, “Tea-Aid” and an order of fries to split. This means our burgers come with mustard, additional crunchy pickles, secret sauce and grilled onions. Since we had been up since 5 am our time (11 hours) with only some airplane apples to eat, I would say we enjoyed it thoroughly Better than McDonalds, and well worth the $10 we spent on the both of us.
The girl can eat...
And we drove through the country...
And we took a stroll through someone's vineyard and olive grove...
We hung out in the courtyard...
We explored the caves in a winery...
And we arrived at our destination, The French Laundry. The room was charming. An old world little nook with very minimal seating. Regardless of size (and a full seating, of course), the room felt intimate and I never felt "too close" or crowded by other tables. Service was lovely, very professional and friendly, but nothing as impressive as what my we call "the dance" at Eleven Madison Park in NYC. ELM service was perhaps the best we have ever encountered, where servers seemed to float across the floor in some type of dream like dance that I couldn't really figure out. But it was beautifiul.
This was flawless, but not noteworthy. The food followed suit. Every dish was perfection. Preparation, ingredients, seasoning, presentation. It was all so perfect, neither of us could think of anything we would change. One of the stand outs for me was the Pork "en feulle de bric" with spring onions, cornichon relish, haricots verts, mustard greens and hen egg emulsion. The super tender pork belly contrasted nicely with the crispy filo pastry and its richness cut by the savory relish.
We also both raved about our fish courses, which for him was a citrus-cured Spanish mackerel with chorizo, sweet peppers, young fennel, calencia orange, nicoise olive and piment d’espelette and for me, a Sauteed filet of Cobia, littleneck clams, Tokyo turnips, pine nuts, lemon condiment, mizuna and white sesame. Fish is NEVER my favourite part of any tasting menu, so I was clearly very impressed. Both the orange flavours of the Mackerel and the bright lemon of the Cobia just exploded in our mouths. Truly magnificant.
However, there wasn't much to the meal we hadn't seen before. Now, I didn't expect ground breaking Molecular gastronomy from Keller, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the overall menu. Things we had seen before at numerous meals, just done better, MUCH better than ever before.
As a note, we were taken into the kitchen for a peak, which I always appreciate.
Goat cheese puffs
Salmon mouse with creme fraise in a little tuile
Oysters and Pearles with sabayon of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar
Bread with two housemade butters
Moulard Duck "foie gras au torchon" with bing cherries, australian truffle, belgian endive, watercress and piedmont hazelnuts
Sauteed fillet of cobia with littleneck clams, tokyo turnips, pine nuts, lemon condiment, mizuna and white sesame
Citrus Cured Spanish Mackerel with chorizo, sweet peppers, young fennel, valenica orange, nicoise olive and piment d'espelette
Sweet Butter poached maine lobster tail with potato "mille feuille", moral mushrooms, red radish, compressed spinach and sauce bernaise
Thomas Farm Squab with cauliflower "fleurettes", medjool date, marcona almond, cilantro shoots and yogurt
Salmon creek farms pork "en feulle de bric" with spring onions, cornichon relish, haricots verts, mustard greens and hen egg emulsion
Lamb rib eye with Rillettes, toasted farrow, summer squash, fairytail eggplant, spanish capers and parsley
Comte with Pain perdu, toybox tomatoes, romaine lettuce and ranch dressing
Manila mango sorbet with compressed summer melon, chili, persian lime and garden mint
Cremeux aux fruits de la passion with French Laundry garden strawberries, pistachio pain de gene, and white chocolate sorbet
Peaches and cream with Santa rosa plums, honey-mascarpone and tahitian vanilla-bean basil ice cream
A selection of home made chocolates including peanut butter, banana, caramel, coffee, hazelnut