6640 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
Executive Chef / Owner: Thomas Keller
Chef de Cuisine: Corey Lee
Sommelier: Greg Castells
Pastry Chef: Claire Clark
Thomas Keller is one of my favorite chefs and French Laundry is one of my favorite restaurants. We have been eating at the French Laundry almost since they opened. I would guess that I have had over a hundred meals at French Laundry. I never take pictures there as we do get a lot of courses and feel it would disrupt the flow of the meal. We always have 2 meals at FL on our trip up north.
I never see a menu at FL so all descriptions are verbally given and I have to write very fast, trying to be accurate. Corey Lee, chef de cuisine, was off for our first meal at FL so Devon, the sous chef, was “handling” our meal. Gregory Castells, who is one of the finest sommeliers anywhere, took care of the wine pairing.
As always, my husband and I share every course.
>> Salmon Cornets
1. In the bottom of the bowl were small dice of applewood smoked bacon and Yukon gold potatoes and tarragon. Chanterelle mushroom soup was poured on top.
2. In the bottom of the bowl were small dice of Hosai pears and rosemary. Butternut squash soup was poured on top.
Both soups were delicious.
1. Pork belly, ravigote cream with American White Sturgeon Caviar
2. Oysters and Pearls
Nicolas Fanucci (GM) came to the table and spooned the caviar on each dish – a new type of service. What can anyone say about oysters and pearls – delicious! The ravigote was based on the classic French sauce of a veloute sauce with chives and tarragon. The pork belly was crispy and resembled “bacon.”
1. Cold-smoked hamachi, curry wood, pickled garlic
2. Hamachi tartare with young coconut cream and lime
To be honest, I don’t have a clue what I meant by curry wood, but both preparations were excellent with the nod going to the tartare.
1. Uni Soufflé with cauliflower florettes, uni tongues, garden mache, winter truffle and truffle vinaigrette
2. Shrimp with almond coating, tarragon, leeks and roasted fennel
3. Caramelized Salmon Roe on an avocado mousse tart (both)
It is well known to the FL that I love uni and the soufflé was perfect. That is not to say that the shrimp was a miss. With dish #3, the roe had a crunch and a sweetness that hinted that it could have been a brulee, but this is a guess on my part. The wine Gregory served was wondrous as it mimicked the oily and fat of the avocado.
1. White Truffle Custard with a ragout of Perigord Truffles with Veal Stock served in an eggshell.
2. Small dice of tofu, truffle broth and poached quail egg.
The truffle custard is one of my all-time favourite dishes at FL. Sublime as always.
1. Confit of wagyu with crispy broccolini
2. Wagyu seared tableside, arugula and a sauce of yuzu, horseradish and honey
The seared Wagyu was perfect and definitely the star of the two dishes.
1. Compressed sweet Asian pears, hazelnut puree, watercress, red beets
2. White asparagus, Serrano ham, garden mache, black truffle coulis
1. House made Tagliatelle with black truffles shaved tableside
2. Ricotta “Agnolotti” with Butter Beurre Blanc sauce, black truffles shaved tableside
Both dishes are old favorites. We had a new server and he was surprised to learn that it was me who named the serving dish for the pasta “The Flying Nun Bowl” about 10 years ago. Now everyone refers to the bowl this way.
1. Sautéed red snapper, crispy skin, herbed spatzle, brussel sprouts, pickled red pearl onions, goulash sauce
2. Sautéed John Dory, artichoke, green garlic, nicoise, fines herbes
What is not to like – excellent!
1. “Caesar Salad” – Maine Lobster Tail, Braised Romaine, Bottarga Emulsion, Grated Bottarga.
2. Lobster Mitts, carrot puree, new crop fava bean puree, cilantro shoots, pain perdue infused with Madras curry
I am just not a fan of the Caesar Salad lobster, but this is just a matter of personal preference. I loved the lobster with carrot and fava bean purees.
We definitely needed a break. We were getting very, very full and we knew we had a foie gras course coming. So as is our custom, we sat in the garden and smelled the fresh night time air of Yountville.
1. Sake with confit of cara cara orange
2. Apple, Parisian apples, mint oil
1. Foie Gras terrine with roasted banana, banyul gastric, watercress
2. Foie Gras Torchon with cherry pepper, Oregon Huckleberry sauce
We had requested two cold foie dishes instead of one hot and one cold. As usual, it was served with a decadent, thick slice of toasted brioche.
Lamb chop with Bluefoot mushrooms and sunchoke coulis, saddle of lamb with bordelaise sauce and pierogi filled with braised lamb with radicchio.
In retrospect, we should have skipped the foie gras course as we were definitely stuffed. As a result we begged off cheese and dessert.
Conclusion: Given that this had been a marathon week of dining, we spoke to Larry and requested that our next meal at FL focus on fish courses and we would skip lobster and foie gras. Once again, FL knocked my socks off. The consistency at the restaurant is unfathomable. It’s a pleasure each and every time.
For our second meal, the gang was all there (except for Thomas) – Larry, Gregory, Nicolas, Kevin and Corey Lee in the kitchen. Corey had devised a very unique, not at all typical FL meal. Many of the dishes the staff had never seen before. In terms of a culinary experience, it was like a journey to many different parts of the world.
1. Spring Green garlic soup with bone marrow, panna cotta, escargot, piquillo
2. Savoy cabbage, glazed pork belly, cabbage and clam veloute
Absolutely sensational soups.
This was an utterly over-the-top course. We each got our own jar of Persicus (Iranian Oscetra Caviar), our own plate of blinis and a dish of crème fraiche and chives. The blini plate was refreshed for hot blinis. We did pay a supplement for this – (Larry asked us ahead of time if this was OK).
1. Shiro-Ebi (shrimp) with pixie orange, roasted nori, salmon roe and crispy rice
2. Pibales (baby eels) with chorizo, Amando extra virgin olive oil and piquillo
FISH CANAPE 2
1. Santa Barbara Uni with sweet turnip cream and Japanese salted plum jelly
2. Grilled Cuddlefish, cuddlefish jelly and red radish
1. St. James River Shad Roe, Applewood Smoked Bacon, roasted romaine, pain perdue, bliss maple syrup
2. Mackerel, julienne of pickled carrots and scallion in a bouillon of ginger, bonito, mirin, tamari and kombu
1. Kahala, cauliflower, marcona almonds, black truffles, bitter orange and black truffle coulis.
2. Sautéed Abalone with creamy barley, preserved Meyer lemon, broccolini, morels and tomato marmalade
On the skin of the Kahala, Corey had finely diced the black truffles and almonds so that it resembled black and white sesame seeds – a stunning visual trompe d’oeil. The abalone was perfection.
1. Japanese Wagyu, air-dried Bresaola, hearts of palm, Asian pear and baby mizuna (both)
Delicious, although the seared Wagyu at the table was more fun. However the combination of the bresaola and the rich beef was a match made in heaven.
1. Crispy veal brains, grilled white asparagus from Holland, gribache sauce
2. Glazed veal sweetbreads, green asparagus, 1000 Island Hollandaise sauce
Both dishes were brilliant and the hollandaise to die for.
1. Brillant Savarin cheesecake with walnuts
2. Windemere from Vermont and a crepe filled with figs, balsamic vinegar
1. Cara cara orange, vanilla panna cotta, honey tuile
2. Mango sorbet, angel food cake, sweet Chilean lime mango sauce
1. Baked Alaska – Swiss Meringue, Coconut Ice Cream, Persian Lime
2. Pound Cake and Compressed Golden Pineapple
Conclusion: This was an amazing meal. Although it wasn’t as extensive as our first meal, it was beautifully orchestrated. I actually have a better taste memory of this meal than the first one. There wasn’t one miss-step, a meal as close to perfection as I have had at the FL.
Although I don’t take pictures at FL, I do take pictures at Thomas Keller’s other restaurants – Bouchon, Ad Hoc and Per Se.