Napa and Sonoma Restaurants

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French Laundry

Fodorite Reviews

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French Laundry Review

An old stone building laced with ivy houses the most acclaimed restaurant in Napa Valley—and, indeed, one of the most highly regarded in the country. The restaurant's two nine-course prix-fixe menus (both $270), one of which highlights vegetables, vary, but "oysters and pearls," a silky dish of pearl tapioca with oysters and white sturgeon caviar, is a signature starter. Some courses rely on luxe ingredients like calotte (cap of the rib eye), while others take humble foods like fava beans and elevate them to art. Many courses also offer the option of "supplements," such as sea urchin or black truffles. Reservations at French Laundry are hard-won, and not accepted more than two months in advance. Call two months ahead to the day at 10 am, on the dot. Didn't get a reservation? Call on the day you'd like to dine here to be considered if there's a cancellation.

    Restaurant Details

  • Jacket required.
  • Reservations essential.
  • No lunch Mon.–Thurs.
Updated: 01-17-2013

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  
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    French Laundry Review

    Simply fabulous! Lovely spot to spend with good friends having good conversation and great food. We had a great time!

    by maureengg, 11/14/09
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    A Bit Too Stuffy And Self-Important For My Taste

    All right...there were some stellar moments as far as the cuisine goes, but there were also one or two iffy ones. Service was impeccably doled out by an uber-serious tight-sphinctered staff and the dining environment was extremely formal (We were constantly shrouded in that "Hush-Hush, Because You Are Very Close To Jesus Here" feeling). I like to laugh and talk to my companions at dinner, and didn't feel like I could here...at least not without getting the hairy eyeball from my whispering neighbors.
    At $650/per couple for this dinner (and we were economizing), this should've been the best meal we've ever had...but it wasn't. Wasn't even in the top 20. There were, however, some tiny icecream cones filled with capers, creme fraiche, and smoked salmon, which will be idelibly (and delectably) etched on my brain).
    If you have cash to burn, are capable of speaking in hushed tones for three hours or more, have the tenacity it takes to get a reservation, and don't mind shelling out a minimum of $100 for the low-end bottle of wine, this could be the place for you.
    I'm a die-hard foodophile, and am glad I got the chance to experience it...but I will never spend that much on a meal again. Especially in a place that takes itself so very seriously...I want my fine dining to be a s filled with great conversation, laughter, good food, and warmth; I don't want to feel like I'm dining in church.

    by sweet_polly, 3/6/07
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    Remarkable!

    As a budding "foodie" I have have tried before several trips to the Bay Area to get in. Finally our 10 a.m. call got through! That effort and the $700 for two was worth it, it really is a remarkable experience. Everything about the service was impeccable, from the staggered arrivals, the 11 tables, and the staff. The food is the star of the show, however, and diners are expected to show rapt attention). Keller is an extrordinary chef, and every morsel is stuffed with taste. Amazing.

    by mbasil, 2/28/07

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