The French Laundry // Yountville, Napa Valley, CA
I’ve always likened myself to being a foodie, as in I enjoy eating and trying new food from across all cultures, but I’ve never identified myself as a fine dining aficionado.
I did know of Thomas Keller and his world renowned chef status, even if it meant knowing him through Bravo’s Top Chef or Chopped. But, save for a special occasion, I did not regularly visit these types of restaurants. The last one I went to on this level was in Japan, for my honeymoon dinner, two years ago (Sushi Sawada)!
This time, we decided to go all out. It was our two year anniversary and we wanted to do something memorable and special. Just a few weeks before, I had visited Thomas Keller’s NYC restaurant, Per Sé. I was blown away by the food and service. Knowing that I was going to come out to California, I didn’t want to miss the chance at trying out The French Laundry.
The first thing I noticed when we drove into town, in our bright, obnoxiously yellow, mustang, was the beautiful foliage & tree-lined streets kept in immaculate condition in Yountville, CA. This was not a town for the plebeians like me. But, today, in my bright yellow car, in my bright yellow dress, I felt like I was on top of the world, so why shouldn’t Yountville, CA belong to me, just for today?
We rolled up to the restaurant and parked boldly across the street. The front of the restaurant opened up to a beautiful courtyard filled with yellow roses, trees, and petite chaises where you could relax after your meal. I couldn’t help but take in this beautiful garden that was decidedly rich, gatsby, French, and understated all at the same time.
I walked into the restaurant and was amazed that it was so comfortable. It wasn’t grand and sterile like, Per Sé. It wasn’t putting on any airs or shows of luxury like, Per Sé. Instead, it looked like someone’s home with tables throughout and people casually chatting and sipping their wine. However, upon closer inspection, the men wore jackets and the women were dressed in expertly chosen day dresses.
They led us to our seat and I decided then and there that this was the best seat in the house. Who really knows, but this really played out in my mind at the time. I looked up and there was a sun roof directly over our table. Fate was giving me great lighting for the onslaught of upcoming food photos.
We paired our meal with a Sancerre from Loire Valley, France. I’m no wine expert, but when I saw this on the wine list, I chose it. Why? Because I went to Loire Valley last year and I recognized it among the list of wines (the plus sides of traveling, you can always “expertly” name a few wines you’ve encountered). I also had this at Per Sé and thought it only fitting I would have it at The French Laundry. Also, my friend Janice Li, ordered this for us when we went to the Hamptons a few weeks ago at the Social Hampton Club in Sag Harbor, NY and I know she knows everything. Other than that, I really didn’t know anything about wine.
Our sommelier brought the bottle over and asked me to taste it, I got too nervous and said, “No, just pour it.” He was taken aback, but laughed and said, “Okay, well let’s just start.”
After the meal and the finishing touch, I thought if I would go back to The French Laundry. I am not one to limit myself and say, “No” but I would say that if fate brings me back to Yountville, CA – I would very much like to visit again.