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Jan 28, 2008 10:32 AM

First time at The French Laundry

I'll be visiting the French Laundry for the first time. I would appreciate any tips to make the experience more memorable.

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  1. Take lots of money, leave yourself in the hands of the chef, and enjoy.

    4 Replies
    1. re: dinwiddie

      Just for fun, how much is dinner for 2 with wine?

        1. re: Zander

          I was there a few days ago. The check for $900 for 2 people. We had the $240 9-course tasting menu and a glass of champagne each before dinner, then two half bottles of wine (one red, one white), and we split a glass or port with our cheese course. It was a solid "A" meal, and the service was nearly flawless, but it was not life-changing.

          And when we asked whether service was included, the answer was clumsy and unprofessional. We had no problems having 20% service added to the bill (indeed we would have likely left more), but the bill isn't clear and leaves a blank anyway for "additional gratuity." We asked about that and received a truly unacceptable answer -- it was a very awkward and unpolished ending to an otherwise fantastic evening.

          BTW, we had to ask for doughnuts. They are no longer doing them automatically. If you ask your server at the beginning of the meal, they will make them for you (and serve them after your first desert course).

          Be sure to ask to see the kitchen! They love that, and they're happy to take you back there. You won't believe that so many people can work productively in such a tiny space -- with such outstanding results!

          1. re: foodiesf

            Hmmmm... how sad about the donuts. Makes you wonder if they made that decision based on a number of un-eaten donuts because of the other additional desserts and mignardise...

      1. Start training your stomach to handle all the rich food. My first visit was a year ago and was only marred by the fact that I don't usually eat so much at one sitting, even if the sitting is 4 hours. I felt sick for a day afterwards, though I loved the meal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: celeste

          On that note, try to arrange your meal so that you can take a walk afterward to keep things moving. A walk before wouldn't hurt, either. And actually, a short walk during can be nice, depending on the time of day and the weather.

        2. Streak naked thru the dining areas and kitchen.

          Short of that, you might glean a few tips from the many trip reports that have been posted here. Click on the "Search this board" link above, and read away......

          1. Budget at least $125 pp for wine (probably more), and don't be shy about letting the sommelier know your preferences re: wine (I'll always regret not saying that I don't like highly alcoholic, overextracted wines... I sort of assumed that it was a given that they wouldn't pair those wines with food... )

            Don't go wine tasting beforehand. Have dry toast and tea for breakfast.

            Book a hotel within walking/cabbing distance, if you're going for dinner.

            1. Know that you can get half glasses of wine, ask your waiter if there are any dishes that should be paired with a certain wine. Also ask if you can get a tour of the kitchen at the end of your meal, pretty inpressive, we finished about 10pm and the kitchen was so clean after a busy night that I wouldn't have minded if they performed open heart surgery on me on the plating table. Sit back and enjoy the ride, it's and "E" ticket.