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“Unimpressive. EXPENSIVE!”
Review of The French Laundry

The French Laundry
Ranked #3 of 29 Restaurants in Yountville
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $50 - $240
Cuisines: American, French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Creek Street
Hong Kong, China
Level 6 Contributor
50 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 165 helpful votes
“Unimpressive. EXPENSIVE!”
Reviewed March 20, 2013

Despite the fact that the restaurant is in small cute stone house, instead of being very cosy, the place is crowded and with no atmosphere! Avoid the upper floor.

There are 2 menus, 1 is vegetarian so we had the regular menu of 9 courses at US$270@. We asked for wine-pairing which they said they don’t offer, but instead will tailor-make according to each person’s preference and budget…. so we just ended up picking 5 wines (all by-the-glass US$20-40@). Keep in mind that the 9-course dinner is a TASTING menu so the portions are all bite sizes. We very much LIKE: the poach lobster, the beef sirloin, bread from Bouchon.

When it comes to serving a dish with aged balsamic, it was a very serious and formal “presentation” of the balsamic….. a waiter with white gloves presented the bottle of 100-year old balsamic vinegar to us and very carefully dotted ONE tiny drop (size of a small green pea) on our plate!!! We had no idea how this tiny drop can be mixed well with our plate of vegetables, and we had to scrape it off the plate to get a taste! Wish they had served the 50-year old and given us 2+ drops instead!

The service is professional but not particularly warm and attentive. We unfortunately were seated next to a couple who know the Restaurant Manager and so were treated especially well and were also offered at least 3 extra complimentary dishes which are not in the menu (which makes us feel even less special). They even get to visit the Chef, Thomas Keller, in the kitchen! Towards the end of dinner, when we and another table asked to meet the Chef, we were sadly told he is gone! Big disappointment once again especially since we just forked out almost US$800 for dinner for 2 (including wine for one).

Our dinner started at 9pm and lasted 3 hours which was shorter than what we have expected. I can see that other guests who came in much later than us are all finishing at about the same time – I guess the kitchen is rushing out food so they can close on time.

Overall….. A disappointment. It was a good meal, though not particularly amazing, and certainly not worth the price. Nice to have gone once, but unlikely will return.

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
5 Thank Trendspott
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Level 5 Contributor
56 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“unbelievable and reputation is spot-on”
Reviewed March 20, 2013

We did not know how tough it was to get reservations and i called in 10 days before and they said we could put you on the wait list, we got THE CALL while just sitting down at Bottega and they said if you don't go, we will.

Our experience started with the hostess meeting us outside and making us feel special. And at the end, the manager personally thanked us for dining on short notice. They were gracious and made us feel warmly welcomed.

The entire experience was outstanding across the board, the service was awesome, everyone was friendly and extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of each of the 9 courses. We asked a lot of questions on each course and they patiently answered each that we understood the artistry. We asked one of the servers about the different ingredients in one course and she gave us a detailed explanation of the three types of radishes and how each complimented the other ingredients - simply incredible.

The meal was worth every penny, the wine - not sure it was worth the price - especially after enjoying tastings in the area of wonderful wines at a third of the price. (there aren't enough dollar signs below)

Based on our lucky stars, we should have played the lottery that day. Don't be afraid to put yourself on the wait list - best surprise we had on our trip.

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank texowl2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
415 reviews
217 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 188 helpful votes
“A Diners Destiny”
Reviewed March 20, 2013

It took 3 years of calling 60 days before my arrivals in St Helena to visit family (several times a year) and being put on a "wait list", before I was finally called back last week with 72 hours notice. The experience is extraordinary once you get by the reservations roadblock.

Our waiter was highly professional, friendly and very helpful with wine suggestions. The champagne (Gaston Cliquet) and red (Cobb Pinot Noir) are new favorites, not so much for the (nameless) Italian white that was too oaky.

The 9-course chefs tasting menu was full of delights and a few disappointments - due more to personal preference vs. skills in the kitchen. I must call out the care in providing comfortable chairs which are so important when one is going to be seated for nearly 3 hours of palate pleasing entertainment.

Several writers have mentioned kitchen tours, and take home chocolates - we were offered neither, but we did not ask. Once outside we did peer through the kitchen windows watching the show go on, not wanting the evening to end.

Visited March 2013
1 Thank pucgal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Service, Impeccable. Food, 8.5. Value, Not so much. Experience, ABSOLUTELY.”
Reviewed March 19, 2013

The French Laundry is one of those places that you SHOULD try at least once if you ever find yourself in Napa. The food was VERY good...but...I have had better. The service however...was SIMPLY the BEST. The staff was like a team of ninjas when they cleared plates it was seriously a stealth operation - within 3 seconds ALL the empty plates would be removed by a team of stealth ninja waiters. Not nearly as pretentious as I thought. Usually there is a certain level of 'stuffiness' that comes along with these super fine dining 3 Michelin Star establishments...but not at this place. I felt very at ease. (could have been the private room and the effect of wine tasting all day who knows :-). Our bill was 8k for 10 of us. A bit outrageous but we did order the best of the best. I guess the real question is - Was it worth it? Sadly the answer is Yes. I say sadly because 8k goes a long way and there are much better things to be done with 8000 dollars...but...you only live once.

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank MagicAntonio44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level 6 Contributor
494 reviews
349 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 171 helpful votes
“Great Food, Outrageous Cost”
Reviewed March 17, 2013

We have tried to get into this restaurant for the past decade, finally succeeding this past weekend. The meal, at $270 per person without wine, is at the higher end of any restaurant we have been to, and we have eaten at the Fat Duck and Steiereck, among others. The food, nine courses, was good but not outstanding. The first course of oysters and caviar was excellent. The ahi tuna dish was a bit less successful, as it was slightly overcooked to my taste. Service was impeccable.

We brought our own wine, choosing to pay a $75 corkage in order to drink a mature red.

All-in-all, a place worth going to, but only once for us. Manresa in Los Gatos was better at half the price. It was relatively noisy, so being able to converse without leaning in was difficult.

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank Gailyn63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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