We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat dinner at the French Laundry in Napa. Check out our photos to see why this Napa Valley restaurant is so famous.
We’ve eaten everywhere from food trucks to destination dining at Michelin rated restaurants and so many places in between. We pride ourselves on our sophisticated yet down-to-earth palettes, and it makes us happy when friends ask for our opinions and recommendations.
When planning our a 2013 California adventure, we managed to score a reservation to The French Laundry in Napa Valley, and of course we had to go. How could we not jump at the opportunity to dine at one of the most famous restaurants in the country, if not the world?
Photos from our Dinner at The French Laundry in Napa Valley
This brings us back to our French Laundry dinner. We documented the march of multiple courses with our handy camera. Without further ado, here comes the parade!
Thoughts about our Dinner at The French Laundry in Napa Valley
The restaurant’s attentive focus toward every last detail of the dining experience separates it from all other American restaurants. It’s not even a close competition. Compared to other high-end dining establishments, The French Laundry’s service is like Secretariat at the Belmont or Michael Jordan on the basketball court.
Seriously, the service is impeccable to the extreme. In fact, we quietly commented on not liking one server as much as the others, and we never saw her up close again. It’s as if our table was under surveillance. We’re still wondering about that.
Great food deserves great wine. Not surprisingly, the wine list was extensive, sophisticated and accessible. The sommelier gave us the perfect recommendations, especially the Retro Cellars 2009 Petite Sirah from Napa Valley. We liked the red wine so much that we hunted it down the next day and bought some bottles to bring home to enjoy later.
The food, you ask? Of course, it’s excellent. Though it’s a shame that California passed the arcane foie gras ban. Every other great luxury meal that we’ve eaten has featured the rich, buttery delicacy, and its the one thing that would have propelled the food experience into the highest stratosphere. (The restaurant does offer a $100 upcharge for truffles, but that was a little too steep for our wallets.) Even still, the food was memorable, albeit in a somewhat predictable way.
You see, for Daryl especially, the eating experience felt like a movie where we already knew the major plot points. Daryl idolized Thomas Keller long before he met Mindi. Like many people, we own the cookbooks, we’ve enjoyed Chef Keller’s appearances on TV and in person, and we’ve perused more than our share of critically fawning articles.
Daryl knew that Oysters and Pearls would be on the menu along with Salmon Cornets, Butter Poached Lobster, and, of course, the restaurant’s play on ‘Coffee and Doughnuts’. These are all great, classic dishes. However, the lack of surprise muted some of the electricity that we experienced last year at Maison Lameloise in Burgundy, France.
In addition to asking how the meal was, people keep asking if we’ll go back. Though one should never say never, it’s fairly unlikely. There are so many great restaurants to try in Napa and Sonoma, and most don’t cost as much as The French Laundry.
But we shouldn’t complain about the meal too much. It’s not every day you have the opportunity to eat filet of luxurious, flaky sturgeon served with a classic sauce reduced to the nth degree or a wonderful chicken roulade that is silky smooth in texture with flavors that evoke the comforting essence of a grandmother’s kitchen. It’s also not every day that a favorite cookbook is brought to life in a way that pleases all five senses.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to the food. And the pictures of the food.
The French Laundry is located at 6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599, USA.
Hungry for More Top Restaurants?
Check out our dining experiences at Belcanto, Brennan’s, Commander’s Palace, Florilege, Frenchie, L’Arpege, Maison Bras, Maison Lameloise, Noma, Pepe in Grani, Septime and Willie Mae’s Scotch House.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Wednesday 5th of May 2021
It's Palate. Palettes are used by painters.
Daryl and Mindi Hirsch
Sunday 11th of July 2021
Noted and fixed. Thanks for catching the typo!
Tuesday 19th of May 2015
Sounds like such an amazing experience. It was great to see all the photos and hear your thoughts. I only live an hour away but haven't had the chance to try it. I do agree though that there are so many amazing culinary experiences at lower prices in the area that it can be hard for us average folks to want to splurge. Thanks for sharing.
Thursday 21st of August 2014
You had a very different menu from the one we had at lunch. Some good-looking dishes! I loved the experience but because I'd also been to Per Se earlier in our trip there wasn't too much of a surprise factor. Still it's a very special treat.
Saturday 7th of September 2013
I worked at The French Laundry in the late 90's, during its real heyday. Glad to see this post about how things are going there now. No surprise about the "classic" dishes that you refer to (Oysters and Pearls, Coffee and Doughnuts, Sturgeon, etc). That's a bit disappointing. However, it sounds like you had a good experience. When you spoke about your wondering about the server that you didn't like, they probably didn't hear you. The service style there (providing it hasn't changed since Laura Cunningham left) is a team service. Meaning, you never see the same person twice at your table. Hope that clarifies some things. Cheers!
Friday 9th of August 2013
I am hoping that I will try the restaurant one day, it reminds me a little bit of Melisse in LA, which I did not find as good as expected.