For my birthday this year, I said f*ck it and decided to indulge a little.

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To get a reservation, you need to be on your game.  They only take online reservations nowadays and release tables for a 2 month period at a time.  So, a few months ago I put on my calendar when they were opening reservations for May and June and hopped on the site when it opened.  I was amazed how quickly times and days booked up…within minutes of opening.  I managed to snag a Friday lunch time close to my actual birthday.

I’ve never actually dined at multi-starred Michelin fine dining restaurant before, so wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.  I specifically didn’t want to read too much about other’s experiences because I didn’t want to go into the meal with bias.  I read maybe 1 review but mostly for logistics about parking, etc.  Prior to this, the only experience at  Michelin starred restaurant was at one-starred Solbar in the Solage resort in Calistoga.

We have many numerous trips to Napa so getting there I was on autopilot and didn’t have to worry about directions and which way to go.  There was the expected traffic on a Friday morning so we had planned accordingly.  We arrived early to Yountville and sat on a bench in front of the French Laundry’s garden (across the street from the restaurant).  It was a beautiful day though a bit warm (still I am amazed at just how much cooler it is in Napa than it is in Sac).

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The French Laundry garden

Even though it was still a little bit before our reservation, we were anxious to get in and start the experience so we walked through the famous blue doors early.

Just inside the door was a small lobby that felt almost like a boutique hotel/B&B.  We were led upstairs to our table immediately.  The decor and feel of the place was much like you were eating in someone’s home.

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Laundry symbols on the lamps
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Art in the restroom

We then proceeded to enjoy a lovely lunch with some amazing food.  I’m just going to let the beautiful plates tell the picture of a wonderful experience I was able to share with my wife.

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The birthday wish at the top was a nice touch. These menus were given to me after our meal

 

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Tasting of Vegetables – we both elected for the Chef’s Tasting Menu

 

 

 

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“Oysters and Pearls”
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Elevages Perigord Moulard Duck Foie Gras Torchon
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Various types of salt for the Foie
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The wife’s Garden Radish Salad
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Wild Scottish sea trout “terrine”
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“Beets and Leeks”
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“Bread and Butter”
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Soft Boiled Rhode Island Red Hen Egg (with a ridiculous amount of Australian Black Winter Truffles.
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Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu
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Hearth Roasted Elysian Fields Farm Lamb
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“Gougere”
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“Happy birthday!”
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Assorted desserts galore!
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Passionfruit and PB&J bonbons

I elected to do the wine pairing option and the staff would bring wines at certain times to pair with the various dishes.  It was a LOT of wine.

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I elected to do the wine pairing option where they choose wines that pair well with the dishes. It was a LOT of wine!
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The cab

We were able to take a brief look of the kitchen.  They were in the middle of transitioning from lunch crew to dinner crew so it was a bit chaotic so we didn’t stay long.

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The newly renovated kitchen – about 2 years old
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The kitchen
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Live feed from Per Se in NYC

Overall it was a fantastic experience.  I really enjoyed the various plates and presentations of each dish.  The stemware for the different types of wine were also fun.  I expected them to be very detailed focus and was impressed by it.

A small gift bag with a tin of some shortbread cookies was a nice parting token.

My only gripe with fine dining is that you are required to wear a jacket at the meal.  This maybe more just the fact that I don’t wear suits or jackets much, but I would much rather be comfortable at a meal than have to look a certain way.  Again that is just personal preference and I respect the traditions and rules.  This was probably a once in a lifetime experience and I’m glad and humble to be able to enjoy it.

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– StewsCat

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