April 3, 2009

The French Laundry - a big check off of our foodie bucket list

The day was finally here...we fasted in anticipation of what many have said is the best meal of their lives.

 We had already been to Per Se (Thomas Keller's other high-end New York based restaurant) and constantly watched Ratatouille (This was the Disney movie in which Keller was the food consultant. Also the animators and creators watched the behind the scenes action at The French Laundry to get an idea as to how a high-end restaurant would operate). Suffice it to say, we are big fans of Keller and were grateful we had a chance to dine at one of the best restaurants in the world.
As we did at Per Se, we begin with the gruyere cheese gougeres (i.e. fancy cheese puffs), the famous salmon cornet (light and tasty salmon tartare in a fun cone), and of course, sparkling wine (Schramsberg 2005 Blanc de Blancs, California).
Oysters and Pearls: "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and California Sturgeon Caviar. This was also another dish we had at Per Se and we were more than happy to have it again!
After the sparkling, we had the 2007 Calera Viognier (Mt. Harlan, $45). Great body, elegant, with nice aromatics and the alcohol did not overpower the food.
We were served two types of butter with two types of salt. One of the salts dated back to prehistoric times!
Moulard Duck "Foie Gras au Torchon": Marcona Almonds, Poached Field Rhubarb, Cutting Celery, Toasted Brioche, and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
What sets French Laundry's (and Per Se's) foie gras course apart from other restaurants is how they let the foie gras stand on its own and the secondary ingredients and condiments do not detract from the quality of the dish

Buckwheat "Capellini": Marinated Cypress Seeds, Crispy Sea Beans, Perilla and Jidori Hen Egg

Sauteed Fillet of Atlantic Halibut: Squid, Fennel bulb, nicoise olives, sweet peppers and Spanish saffron sauce (buttery fish and the saffron was subtle not overwhelming)

Florida Everglades Frogs Legs: San Marzano Tomato Compote, Romaine Lettuce, Green Garlic, and "Ranch Dressing". The frogs legs were tasty and we could eat the tomato compote on its own it was so good.
"Beets and Leeks": Maine lobster tail "Pochee au Beurre Deux" with King Richard Leeks, "Pommes Maxim's" and Red Beet Essence. Perectly cooked lobster, silky not rubbery.

Wolfe Rance White Quail: Sunchokes, Arrowleaf Spinach, Pine Nuts, and Medjool Dates
The dates added a nice sweetness to match the game meat.

For our red, we had the 2005 Palazzo Cabernet Franc (Truchard Vineyard, Napa, $80), a special half bottling for Keller's restaurants. A fantastic food match, not the 'big' style but more towards the elegant, Bordeaux style.

"Confit de Coeur de Veau": "Asperge en Feuille de Bric," Glazed Pearl Onions, Parmesan Emulsion, Black Truffles and Garden Blossoms
Veal heart, one of the best dishes we have ever had. Picture the best pastrami you have heard about, but only about a million times better.

Snake River Farms "Calotte de Boeuf Grillee": Chanterelle Mushrooms, Purple-Top Turnips, Sugar Snap Peas, and "Sauce Bearnaise". Perfectly cooked beef (rare, is there any other way?) and very moist/tender.

"Beermat": Belgium Endive, Granny Smith Apple, Watercress and Dijon Mustard
Cheese with beer, enough said.

Andante Dairy Yogurt Sorbet: Cream Scone, Sour Cherry and Proprietor's Blend Tea Foam

"Mousse Au Chocolat Amedei": Toasted Cashews, Curry "Arlette" and Gros Michel Banana Ice Cream

"Parfait au Citron": Candied Buddha's Hand, Pistachio Biscotti, and Lemon Snow


A sneak peak into the kitchen...unfortunately the flat screen TV that connects the French Laundry to Per Se was being repaired that day.

Overall it was a wonderful meal. Was it better than Cyrus? Yes, definitely (and significantly more expensive). This was a nice, relaxing meal that subtly progressed through the courses. Was it better than Per Se? We have read that most people believe it is better than Keller's New York restaurant, but we are on the fence on this one. Both meals and service were exceptional. We felt that the service at Per Se was a tad more impeccable than that of The French Laundry (without prompting nor indicating who we were, we were greeted by name at Per Se and everyone who served us knew that we were celebrating a birthday. At the French Laundry, we had to reiterate that we were celebrating our honeymoon). The French Laundry had a warm, comforting, laid-back "California" feel to the restaurant while Per Se has a more grandiose, impressive, assertive "New York" feel. Either way, the food was unbelievable.

French Laundry on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment

We love reading your comments! Don't worry if you don't have a Google account or website - just select Name/URL.