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Jan 17, 2002 04:17 PM

Lunch at French Laundry?

  • r

I'm thinking of spending the weekend of my birthday in late March in the wine country, and was wondering if anyone here can tell me about lunch at The French Laundry?

What are the menu and prices like (I found the dinner menu online, but not lunch)?

Is it worth it? Is it as hard to get reservations? Will I feel comfortable lunching alone (will they even let me lunch alone, or are their tables too valuable to be wasted on single diners)?

Also, I was thinking of staying at one of the "spa" places in and around Calistoga. Are there some to be recommended? Avoided? Good values (so I can afford to eat at French Laundry [g])?

Thanks hounds!

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  1. Good luck! Re: Calistoga, there are nice cottages available at Indian Springs, a hot springs/spa right in town--very clean, pretty place, with a huge heated outdoor pool, plus the usual mud baths, etc.


    1. The one time I ate at French Laundry was lunch, several days before Christmas in 1998. I got a reservation as soon as I could - 3 months ahead as I recall - and they were almost full up for lunch immediately. That it was near the holidays and that people were flusher finacially might have been factors.

      Lunch came to $75 per person, as I recall. We drank lightly, a bottle and a half for for 4 people. It was one of the most extraordinary meals I have had; I think of it often and long to return. When I do, I will definitely return for lunch - the restaurant is gorgeous in the daylight, the gardens surrounding are delightful, and I feel less rushed for lunch. We drove back to the city afterward but I wished we'd had a nice b and b to which to repair. Lunch is a long leisurely affair - plan on 3 hours.

      I can't give a useful food report as I didn't take notes and my memories have hazed over, but it was truly exquisite. Go and enjoy!

      1. never been, but my cousins went a few months ago and their impression was that lunch and dinner were the same menu - equally long and equally expensive.

        1. Lunch is basically the same size and menu as dinner. Well worth it. In fact, with such a meal of size and length (if you do the tasting menu), I like having the rest of the day at leisure. We are going there for lunch in the next few weeks again, and I'm looking forward to it with baited breath.

          1. As has been mentioned, lunch is now the same as dinner in terms of the menu. In fact, lunch can be better because they may run out of certain items by dinner time, necessitating a reprint of the day's menu. Used to be that lunch did not include the full Chef's tasting menu.

            In March, you might be able to get the Offal Tasting Menu. They had it available last March when I went there for lunch.

            Lunch is generally easier (ha!) to get into than dinner. The reason I went for lunch is that invariably if you have not gotten through on the reservation line in the first 15 minutes, they're down to taking lunch reservations. This turned out all right since I went on a Friday and just enjoyed the rest of the day in the wine country.