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Eating Solo at The French Laundry?

Will be in San Francisco in February prior to some fellowship interviews and managed to secure reservations at The French Laundry for February 17th. While I'll be traveling with family (mother and aunt) who've always wanted to see the Bay Area, neither are 'foodies' and aren't willing to spend the cash to experience TFL. According to the fantastic reservationist I'll be seated at a 2-top and dining solo is 'not a problem at all, but if I'd like to bring someone they can certainly set the table for two.'

While I've certainly dined at other high end restaurants as a solo (Le Cirque and Eleven Madison Park) it just seems that TFL is on a whole different plane. Have any other Hounds dined solo at the Laundry and if so, was it awkward at all? Would it be worth looking for another dining companion? Thanks.

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  1. The atmosphere at TFL isn't extremely formal, so if you're comfortable dining alone you shouldn't feel too weird. But dinner can last up to four hours -- plus there's the drive from SF -- so you might want some company!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Agreed -- if the OP is comfortable dining solo at Le Cirque and EMP, he will certainly not feel out of place doing so at French Laundry.

    2. I've read that solo diners get treated extremely well there, so I think you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy your meal, with or without company.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JasmineG

        I've heard the same thing. That they really appreciate someone willing to go by themselves, they try to make it really worth while.

      2. Be sure to give us a report, we'd love to hear how it went.

        14 Replies
        1. re: walker

          I certainly will - if you look at my blog (http://uhockey.blogspot.com/) you'll realize I'm anything but short with words and reviews. :-) The San Fran agenda has set up quite nicely with the help of all the great people on this board.

          1. re: uhockey

            The very first time I ate at FL was by myself. It was an extraordinary experience - just go and enjoy.

            1. re: lizziee

              Done. Thank you all for your replies. I'll report back. :-)

            2. re: uhockey

              I'll be in town at the same time, care to share your San Francisco food "agenda"?

              1. re: miaedu

                Given the travel and such (days in Napa, Monterey, a hockey game in SJ):

                Day #1: Ferry Market Brunch / Gary Danko Dinner
                Day #2: Bread from Tartine / Lunch at Bouchon / Dinner at Redd
                Day #3: Quick stop at Citizen Cake / Lunch at Aqua / Dinner at TFL
                Day #4: Mama's Breakfast / Chez Panisse Cafe Lunch / La Folie Dinner
                Day #5: Dottie's True Blue / Lunch at Monterey Pier / Dinner at Arcadia

                1. re: uhockey

                  Are you talking about Mama's on Broadway in Oakland? Yikes!!! Skip it. Cooking does not live up to its weird popularity. Super bland, bad service, long waits, just boring food. For ten years, I have lived less than six blocks away and I never bother. Oakland has such better food that Mamas if you want to be in Oakland.

                  I just looked at the home page of your blog. Ah Ohio. I have eaten at Moto(did they show you the laser in the kitchen?) & am a fan of both greasy spoon and molecularG. So, unless you have a sentimental childhood or date/lover attachment to mamas, which people fiercely do, don't bother wasting you $$ or time. You will be sad.

                  We have great Dim Sum, Mexican, etc. for breakfast.

                  1. re: mmerino

                    As for Moto......they didn't show me much.....just a large bill for average service, decent food, and some neat 'tricks.' I'd eat at Trotter's 10 more times before heading back to Moto.

                    1. re: uhockey

                      heh. I felt the same as you after a five hour meal at moto. I did delight in the kitchen tour. We werent the only ones who went during the marathon. Maybe they aren't doing it anymore? We had to wear goggles-yay! or ouch!-laser in the eye...

                      As for dim sum it can be lovely, its not sloppy, drippy, salty, yuck, like Chinese American food is sometimes. Its delicate and an art form, to me, much like sushi. Have you done dim sum for breakfast? Its fun, I swear.

                      1. re: mmerino

                        I've never had dim-sum, no......but I can get it (perhaps not as good in Ohio) here. If I'm to experience a first, I'd rather do it here and not on a trip with literally hundreds of places I'd prefer.

                        additionally, my breakfasts while on vacation always fancy sweet over savory.

                  2. re: uhockey

                    This schedule is too busy. Eat and drive, drive and eat. Dinner Yountville, breakfast SF, Lunch SF, 4 hour dinner Yountville, breakfast Mama's SF, lunch Berkeley, dinner SF, breakfast SF, lunch Monterey, dinner San Jose.

                    1. re: wolfe

                      I thought the same thing when I read the itinerary; waayyy too busy, with too much driving. Would probably have replied to try and talk OP out of it, had I not read the unfair (and factually completely untrue) dissing of beloved taco trucks and Mexican food. If Mom and Aunt are joining the driving, they will be seeing the bay area from a car window.

                      Instead, I will just say to OP: good luck. Given your schedule and the rest, you are going to need it. In a lot of ways.

                    2. re: uhockey

                      Don't go to lunch at Aqua at all, and especially not before dinner at TFL. You won't get bread at Tartine in the morning, unless you mean a pastry. Don't go to lunch at Bouchon, it's gotten a lot of negatives on this board as of late, either go somewhere in SF, or somewhere better up in Napa. Do broaden your mind about ethnic food, and try not to make offensive remarks about it -- that won't get you far in the Bay Area, and you'll also get a much broader sense of what the food is like here; what you have now is a lot of the same, and will get boring by the end of the week.

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Aqua no longer serves lunch, so that's easy. I think lunch at Bouchon would be great. It is described as elegent bistro food, which given the Bouchon cookbook, I can believe. Certainly better that lunch at Bistro Jeanty considering Bauer's recent review.

                        1. re: Paul H

                          Aqua only no longer serves lunch in January, they said that they'll be going back to lunch after the month is over, so if they do, the OP is fine since he's coming next month.

                          Bouchon has been getting very negative reports on this board as of late, which is why I recommend away from it.

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