Premise: The Most Expensive Meal I’ve Ever Had
This is a very special edition of Restaurant Reviews – normally, I specialize in hotels (hence the moniker) but this was such a wonderful and pleasant experience I felt compelled to write about it. The French Laundry is a three-star Michelin restaurant located in Yountville, California, about 15 minutes north of Napa. It was also about 11 minutes / 7 miles north of our Napa hotel, the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa.
Initiatlly,, I am not the type of person to enjoy fancy food, especially not at a meal that costs $$$$! I think the portions typically are too small for me to enjoy properly. But this place was fantastic and a great experience. Service was impeccable, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was sublime. Highlights are of course the food, as well as their very kind offer to show us their newly renovated kitchen. Previously they were working out of a temporary one and the staff was very pleased to have a new fully functioning kitchen. Our friends treated us to this meal as a wedding gift, specifically cultivating a wine selection to pair with our meal with bottles from our birth and critical relationship years. Very thoughtful! Example menu is below.
I was dropped off blindfolded by my Lyft, so while I did have a sneaking suspicion of where we were going (why else would I be blindfolded) I was not 100% sure. As it was evening time, it was quite dark, but their trademark blue door and the welcoming sign was great. Also, we did have some difficulty finding the entrance (apparently the address isn’t very good on Lyft) so we asked a waitstaff to direct us to the entrance around the corner area.
Their seating lobby looked like a living room, with books, comfortable chairs and couches, etc. They offered to hold our coats, as it was winter as well, then let us upstairs to our table.
My favorite part of the meal actually was here – with their breads. Warm, delicious, flavorful, especially with their butter. The delicious, flaky breadstick cookie was amazing.
My $100 upgrade of entree to Wagyu beef was well worth it. It was soft, tender, juicy, and delicious. The remaining entrees were great as well. Everything had such great taste and flavor that I really enjoyed it.
We had several glasses of wine as a pairing, and I’m proud to say I finished a good number of them. Plenty of variety of whites and reds, as well as wine types. They were specifically cultivated by my now-wife’s friend, a wine aficionado who used our birth years and relationship dates to date the bottles. How thoughtful.
So, before finishing all the entrees and appetizers, they did inform us that we would want to save some room for dessert. And they were right! Several different types of dessert available for each person. My highlights include the fried doughnuts – always a fan – as well as the gelato in a cup. Very delicious. They brought over a special box, sort of like a rectangular cigar box, but instead of cigars, they had an assortment of about 8 different types of decadent chocolates, of which I tried a couple. Beautiful stuff!
So, as French Laundry was a generous gift from our friends for our wedding, I wasn’t 100% sure on the cost, especially of the specifically curated wine pairing. Retail rate of a meal at the French Laundry starts at $325 per person, with a 7.75% tax, which comes out to about $350. Menu upgrades are available on the website as well, and also at your table – we saw supplemental options and I chose one with the Wagyu beef for an extra $100. Wine pairings are an additional $75 to $1,000 depending on the type of wines you get. There are no set pairings. I expected our meal to easily be well over $1,000 just the two of us (!), for one amazing evening.
Would I go back? I sure would. Of course, I’d save French Laundry for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary or something. Lastly, i would highly recommend you experience it at least once, especially if you’re in the area! Note that the menu changes so you may not get the same food for your meal!
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