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.
Just a 15-minute walk from The Inn On First, a bed and breakfast in Napa, is the restaurant Angele. With friends in town we decided to return to the restaurant as it had been awhile since we enjoyed the cuisine. With a new chef in the kitchen I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can now report we weren’t disappointed.
The marinated beet salad called to me and I was enthusiastic with every bite, especially with the addition of fromage blanc (I have to admit I have a weakness for cheese in all its forms). I split that with Jamie as our friends split the heirloom tomato sald with figs and prosciutto (gladly they shared and we loved it). The quail was my main course, as it sounded just too yummy to pass up with figs and pancetta-leek au jus. Just delicious. Jamie obviously enjoyed the braised rabbit with tomato confit which he reluctantly gave up a bite to me.
Thankfully our friend ordered the Duo de Bouef with a small filet and braised shortrib and the pork shoulder with quinoa. To my disappointment no one ordered the sea bass, and when it was delivered to the table across the way I was sorry we couldn’t squeeze in one more dish. Check out the full late summer menu on their website.
We still think Angele is one of the great romantic restaurants in Napa, right along the river, with great food, perfect ambience, and wonderful service. A great value for your money.