The French Laundry

The French Laundry

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

Continue reading “The French Laundry”

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Tokyo Day 3 & 4 (Japan 2017)

Tokyo Day 3 & 4 (Japan 2017)

After a restful sleep, we awoke and ordered some room service and then decided to head over to the Imperial Palace area along with Tokyo Station and the many things around that area.  The weather was still fairly overcast and rainy, my wife was very smart and brought an umbrella.

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Tokyo Station

We walked around the outer perimeter of the Imperial Palace but didn’t try to go inside.  We started to get hungry and went looking for a snack.

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Imperial Palace

Near Tokyo Station is the KITTE building, which houses a lot of stores as well as restaurants.

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KITTE Building

I had read about it on a web site and since we were right there, we stopped in.  It was still fairly early in the day so they weren’t letting people go up onto higher floors.  So we headed to the basement and walked around where they had little shops of various food items and small trinket type things.  We got some Chicken Karaage from the convenience store.  This is essentially their version of chicken nuggets.  I also had an Onigiri (which became a theme of the trip).  Onigiri are triangles of rice wrapped in seaweed and filled with various items (I ended up trying some that had tuna salad, smoked salmon, fish roe, egg, etc). Continue reading “Tokyo Day 3 & 4 (Japan 2017)”

Tokyo Day 1 & 2 (Japan 2017)

Tokyo Day 1 & 2 (Japan 2017)

It has taken me quite awhile to finally get these first two days published from our trip back at the end of March-early April.  Will hopefully get the rest up in a timely manner.

Day 1 was a short day due to travel.  We landed at Narita airport in the late afternoon around 4:30 pm.  However, there was a crazy wait at customs/immigration.  The line for Japanese citizens was crazy short and those of foreign passports had a long wait.  They even had two separate customs areas and it still took somewhere around 1-1.5 hours of wait time to get through.  And then we needed to exchange our vouchers for the Japan Rail Pass, which came in handy throughout the trip but it was another 1 hour wait to get this pass.  As you can imagine, after an almost 11 hour flight, we were quite tired.  Thankfully once we received our rail pass, they also booked us on the train that would take us into Tokyo (about a 90 minute train ride).

Initially on approach to Japan I thought we’d have time to get to our hotel, put our stuff away and then head out for some dinner.  I realized after all the aforementioned wait times, we’d be lucky to find anywhere open for food.  Add onto that we were just bone tired and I wasn’t sure what we were going to do about foodstuffs.

After arriving at Shinjuku station (the one closest to our hotel for the night), I looked on the map and decided that it wasn’t too far of a walk from the train station to the hotel.  The wife had mentioned there was a courtesy hotel shuttle from Shinjuku station though we couldn’t be exactly sure where the pickup point was.  So after about a 15 minute walk, we arrived at our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Tokyo.  It has quite an impressive entrance with these very large low hanging chandeliers.  We  checked in and immediately headed upstairs to offload our stuff.  When we first arrived, I noticed that there appeared to be some restaurants and stores in the basement level (which becomes a theme in Japan).  We initially looked at some of the hotel restaurants (they have a handful of them situated in the hotel itself) but it looked like most places closed at 9 pm and we had arrived just after 9 pm.

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So it was off the convenience store in the basement for food. Luckily they actually stock some food that is edible and not extremely bad for you.  The wife and I both picked up a pre-made sandwich and I also got a hot dog and some snacks (chips).  After eating some food and cleaning up a little, it was off to bed for us. Continue reading “Tokyo Day 1 & 2 (Japan 2017)”