The French Laundry, acclaimed chef Thomas Keller’s premier restaurant in the Napa Valley featuring a 9-course, 3-hour culinary adventure., has changed the procedure for making reservations. They no longer take phone reservations.
To obtain a reservation, you must use their reservation page on their website. They open reservations on the 1st day of every odd month (Jan, Mar, May, July, Sep, Nov) at 10:00 am PST. For example, on July 1st, at 10 am PST, they will take reservations for September and October. Website
Jacket required. Current cost is $310.
Is it worth it?
Is food fuel or pleasure to you? That is the real question. If fuel is your answer, then NO, don’t go.
For those who evaluate, savor, and appreciate every bite of food, an absolute YES. It is the Disneyland of Food, every dish a new ride and new experience. The food is about purity of flavor and putting those flavors together in such a way that the palate finds intrigue, mystery, and ecstasy come together over the course of your meal.
Only a 10-minute walk from The Inn On First, a provider of romantic lodging in Napa, is a restaurant called Fish Story. They opened two years ago and chose to follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium lists for sustainable fish that are good for dining. It was good but I could make almost everything on the menu at home; and when I want to eat out I generally look for chefs that will teach me, or tantalize my palate, or offer me things I would never do at home.
When the new chef came one month ago we were intrigued by the new menu. Celebrating our 20th anniversary of our first date we decided to give the restaurant a try. I texted a friend immediately after dinner: “Just go!” Everything we had was delicious.
Jamie started with the tuna tartare with sourdough crisps and balsamic vinegar glee with a violet mustard. Every bite was incredibly wonderful with little bursts of the gelee that would shine through the tartare. I was tempted by the cold green garlic soup that was light, refreshing, and creamy goodness in a bowl. For a main course Jamie ordered the Lobster “pot au feu”, a fish stew with a large lobster tail in the center, mussels, clams, and a luscious sauce to be sopped up with the hot bread they bring to table. I ordered the sturgeon and it was perfectly cooked, a bit meaty and every bite tender, with this bed of leeks underneath that was a great complement to the fish as well as wild escargot bites that were incredibly tender. I didn’t want my meal to end.
For dessert we enjoyed the soft vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and it was a perfect ending to a delightful meal. The wine list for March was 1/2 off (their version of March Madness) so we splurged on a Storybook Zinfandel that was perfect with our meal. First courses run $9 to $15, and entrees $17 to $38. If you’re looking for some incredible flavors to go with fish, this is a great place to dine.
One last note: on the menu they state that “many items can be prepared in a vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free fashion.” That really impressed me as so many of our guests are looking for alternative cuisines due to dietary restrictions.
Only a ten minute walk from Napa’s luxury Bed and Breakfast Inn, The Inn On First, is Carpe Diem Wine Bar and Restaurant; what we call a “small plates restaurant”, meaning you order to share. Where else can you be tempted by the daily taco of the day (filet mignon with pomegranate glaze, or shrimp pad thai, or pulled pork with a chipotle sauce, or lamb with pickled slaw- every bite delicious!) that changes all the time according to the chef’s inventiveness and seasonal ingredients.
I’m a fan of their pork steam buns, the short ribs, and their filet mignon with red rice cake. Yet by the time you get there these may be gone and replaced with some other yummy dish for you to choose. The fried olives are still a favorite of mine, and the truffled popcorn is downright addictive. You swear you will stop eating it, and yet your hands keep reaching. Jamie loved the brussell sprouts flatbread (you know I’m a hater so I don’t touch the stuff!), and the soft housemade burrata with olive oil drizzle and toast points is always fun.
This restaurant is fun, exciting, and always busy, so reservations are a must. With so many wines by the glass, too, it makes it really interesting to try new wines with these dishes. We’ve even had guests return two nights in a row just so they could try out other dishes and different wines. Stephanie and Scott, Owners, Hostess and Chef, make this must-eat stop in Napa. Oh, and seriously, if they ever take the Twix Bar off the dessert menu I might consider picketing the establishment.
Only a fifteen minute drive from The Inn On First, a romantic Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, is Brix Restaurant. As my friend Donna Kaz was in town from NYC I wanted her to experience the beauty that the Brix Gardens enjoys while dining on incredible food.
As it was a bit later in the afternoon when we arrived (2 pm) we were practically alone on the patio for lunch. With spring blossoms everywhere in sight, as well as bud break beginning to show on the vines all around, the place could not have been more welcoming. We ordered the cold beet soup with a vegan base and a beautiful floral design of creme fraiche on top. It was a perfect accompaniment to a warm spring day. I ordered the asparagus salad, with a variety of white and green asparagus, and a light lemony dressing with petite brioche croutons. So far the meal was perfect.
Donna enjoyed the house salad with butter lettuce, english peas, and a garlic-yogurt dressing, although we were both sorely tempted by the tempura fried green beans and the steak tartare. The dungeness crab salad was tempting, but we tried to keep it light. We decided to split the lamb sandwich on housemade focaccia bread with the most lovely crisp french fries (okay, so maybe we tried to keep it partially light!). The bacon pizza looked delicious as we saw it delivered near us, as did the lamb bolognese.
Prices range from $8 to $18, for soups, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and main entrees. If you are here during the busier summer months I would suggest making a reservation and tell them you want to sit on the garden patio. If you ate my breakfast that morning you probably won’t be hungry again until 2 pm, which is a great time to sit and enjoy an afternoon break from wine tasting.