The French Laundry

The French Laundry

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


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).

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.

Laundry symbols on the lamps
Art in the restroom

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Napa/Yountville lunch

This past Veterans Day, the wife and I were both off work so I suggested we head over to the Napa Valley for some lunch.  It seemed like we had been getting over to Napa a bunch of times in the last year but haven’t been in a while.  I figured it was time to have a nice meal at one of the many awesome dining establishments.  Initially I was going to make reservations for Bouchon, a Thomas Keller restaurant, but it seemed a bit heavy for lunch.  I had heard good things about Mustards Grill in Yountville.  This is one of Cindy Pawlcyn’s places and she has another restaurant in St. Helena (also in the Napa Valley) and then one more in Monterey.

Their only reservations for Veterans Day for lunch were for either 11:45 am or 2 pm.  So we elected for the 11:45 am one.  I anticipated that there would be some traffic on the 80 since Friday typically has some traffic and allotted about an hour and forty-five minutes to get there.  We left a few minutes late and in fact hit some traffic, though some of it was related to actual minor fender benders.  I could see that we’d be late for our reservation and luckily the restaurant was happy to push our reservation back to noon.  Upon arrival we were seated quickly in the corner of the quant restaurant.  This is located directly off the main highway that leads from Napa to Yountville all the way up to Calistoga.  Outside the restaurant they have some small gardens that provide some of the produce they use in their cooking.

I enjoyed that the entire front facade of the restaurant was comprised of windows, allowing for a lot of natural light, especially with our corner table.  The waiter promptly came over and went over the specials and took our drink order.  I tried a cocktail that was comprised of vodka with apple cider and something else and was quite refreshing.

The wife elected to have the daily soup (Coconut curry butternut squash soup with chili oil) to start and I went with their house made potato chips and dipping sauce.  I enjoyed the chips as they were sliced thinly and fried to a nice crunch.  For our mains we both went with specials they had for that day.  My wife had the Mahi Mahi Tostada with cabbage, beans and cheese and I went with their lamb burger and fries.  The lamb was freshly ground that morning.  I ordered it medium rare and my only complaint is that it came out medium to medium-well.  Otherwise the taste of the burger was delicious and not too gamey.  We finished off the meal with the chocolate hazelnut tarte and espresso ice cream (not pictured), which even the table next to us was like “that looks SOOO good,” and it was.

Mahi mahi tostada
Lamb burger & fries

After stuffing ourselves silly, we realized we needed to get some activity in to burn off some of the many calories we just had.  So we went over to downtown Yountville (Mustards Grill is a few miles north of the downtown area) and walked around for awhile.  There was this cool little statue of a fireman and I thought the back of the statue had cooler details than the front.

They have an Artwalk – with various art installations along the sidewalks (apparently they are also available for acquisition if you have that kind of dough).



We also walked over to the French Laundry, which is on my bucket list.

The French Laundry

A bunch of my relatives have already been but I have yet to partake…one day.  Across from the restaurant is their garden where they grow a lot of the produce they use.  They even have a small chicken coop.

After we walked through the small quaint neighborhood back to where I parked the car we made our way back to Sacramento.  It was the afternoon on a Friday by this time and the drive back was slow going.  Upon arrival back in town, we stopped at Sears to pick up my new glasses (they had a BOGO deal the day we happened to go look at glasses).  Now I’ve got 3 pairs – one of which will be my running glasses I’m sure.  Overall was a fun holiday day.