Thursday, August 4, 2011

French Laundry

“No” is not a word I like to hear in a culinary context.  And hearing “no” over and over again is enough to discourage even the most intrepid foodie.  But the word merely makes me resolute when uttered by the reservationist at the illustrious, nearly mythical restaurant named The French Laundry.

The French Laundry is a perennial resident on Restaurant Magazine’s list of the top 50 restaurants in the world, and was designated by that publication in 2003 and 2004 as the very best.  The French Laundry is located in Yountville, right in the middle of the Napa Valley.  Over the years, my companion and I have tried many times for reservations.  Admittedly, we have not tried “dialing for dollars” three months in advance which is when reservations are opened.  That would require too much advance planning for us.  But we have tried various means without success when in the Napa Valley.  For instance, my companion once was doing a walkabout around Yountville at 4:00 a.m. and was drawn into the kitchen of The French Laundry by the smell of fresh bakery goods.  Although he was offered coffee and fresh croissants, and had a nice chat with Thomas Keller, he was not rewarded with a reservation for his insomnia. 

We have dined with great delight in Thomas Keller’s other three eating establishments in Yountville:  Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc.  Bouchon is a bistro style restaurant with wonderful shellfish and a menu with excellent variety and appeal.  Bouchon Bakery purveys a panoply of fresh baked pastries, cakes, breads and the like.  Its devotees line up before the opening just to ensure first dibs.  And Ad Hoc is incredibly unique in that the daily menu is prix fixe and contains one, and only one, selection for each course.  Unless you have checked out the website in advance, you don’t know what is being served until you sit down.  You always hope for fried chicken but are never disappointed with what is served. 

On my recent trip to the Napa Valley, I was able to stroll through the gardens of The French Laundry.  It is here that Thomas Keller grows much of the produce used in his restaurants.  It is the closest I have been to a coveted table and I thought those of you who tend home gardens will draw inspiration from seeing some of the photos I took.  For many of you—perhaps me included—it may be the closest you will ever get to a table at The French Laundry.

The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599

6534 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599

No comments:

Post a Comment