The French Laundry
• Read a profile of chef Thomas Keller and check out GAYOT's review of his The French Laundry Cookbook.
The French Laundry Restaurant Review: There are few restaurants where dining inspires a pilgrimage. The French Laundry’s vortex compels zealots from around the world. Many document their odyssey here be it by snapshot or blog, relaying every detail from the hard-to-score reservation to the journey beyond the blue door. Each bite is recalled in detail to those who live to hear about it and sigh, anticipating their own someday passage into culinary adulthood. The wizardry unfolds inside chef-proprietor Thomas Keller’s understated French country sanctum where nine-course prix-fixe meals are executed in Harry Potter-like fashion --- one wonders if the perfect execution isn’t magic? Behold the California white sturgeon caviar, cauliflower “panna cotta,” and pistachios, tarragon, Meyer lemon and lobster consommé “en gelée.” New Bedford sea scallop “poêlée” pairs with Hobbs’ bacon, candy cap mushrooms, garnet yam and crosnes, while Four Story Hill Farm guinea hen “truffée” is accompanied by grilled bread purée, savoy cabbage, Tokyo turnip and “sauce périgourdine.” Desserts have included a Valrhona chocolate “crémeux” with sour Michigan cherry sorbet. The cheese cart makes a detour; instead, the cheese course is composed and presented in the same labor-intensive fashion as the rest of the meal. The wine list is appropriately extensive. Servers have telepathic powers; they are intuitive, scrupulously precise and deliberately paced, allowing you to soak in the three or four hour experience that, alas, seems to vanish all too soon.