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For my dearest Kyle: dinner at the French Laundry

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by itsstillmatt, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    So that Kyle stops pestering me, I will tell everybody about my dinner at the French Laundry last Friday. I am nearly positive that nobody really cares, and I neither take pictures at dinner nor do I like to use extra words, so:

    Amuses bouche: First was a mornay stuffed gougere. This was fine, and well executed, but these mini gougeres are simply not as good, both taste and texture wise, as a regular gougere. Second was a smoked salmon in a sesame cone thing. I loved this, though I generally do not love sesame.

    First course: Oysters and pearls. Not much to say. This was fantastic. By far the best dish of the night.

    Second course: Foie gras "en torchon." Extremely disappointing. The texture was awful. It had none of the complexity or silkiness of a good foie gras preparation. It was way overworked, I assume so that it would look perfect, but the result was really awful. It was also practically unseasoned. Bringing gimmicky salt to the table with foie gras is fine, but it is not a substitute for seasoning it first. I guess the warm brioche was nice, but I would prefer good foie gras. Also, a $30 supplement? Really?

    Third course: Some sort of mackerel in a sickly sweet sauce. I am sure they did not call the sauce sickly sweet, but that is what it was. It tasted of dying flowers. Also terrible.

    Fourth course: Lobster with bordelais sauce. This was nice. I liked it more than the other people at the table who found theirs to be less than warm when they arrived.

    Fifth course: Squab with dates and almonds. This was OK, though not spectacular. Also luke warm. Very pretty dish. Flavors were lacked much complexity.

    Sixth course: Lamb loin. I liked this a lot, though it was also coolish in the middle.

    Seventh course: Some sort of passionfruit sorbet. This was fantastic. Really unbelievably good. Along with the oysters and pearls, easily the highlight of the meal.

    Eighth course: Peaches and cream. Whatever. Not bad, but basically another plated fancy desert which is more beautiful than tasty.

    Service: Well, the food, as mediocre as it was, was better than the service. Between asking one guy if he knew what squab was, in a very haughty tone, and berating one woman for not wanting a glass of their special bottled at two atmospheres less than normal pressure, the service was, needless to say, disappointing.

    There you go, Kyle. Now everybody can get all upset about "you don't know what you are talking about" and "Keller is a God, how dare you question him." The thing is, I am pretty easy to please even if I don't always love everything (others can confirm this,) and I have eaten all my life in restaurants like this, and this was not a good meal. Fire away.
     
  2. gomestar

    gomestar Senior member

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    you don't know what you are talking about Keller is a god how dare you question him


    (and what was le wine for the night?)
     
  3. kwilkinson

    kwilkinson Senior member

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    About time!
    Seriously though, it is surprising and sad that the meal was so bad. A course or two not being great is to be expected with long tasting menus, but something that Keller seems to care about as much as foie being a complete flop is bad.
    And the thought of trying so hard to upsell wine at a dinner where it's already costing several hundred dollars a head is just completely unacceptable.
    Alinea will be better, I am sure.


    Then again, it has been a while since you tasted my food. Maybe your palate has just gone way downhill.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    How dare you, etc.




    (thank you Manton)
     
  5. A.K.A.

    A.K.A. Senior member

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    Thanks for the honest review. Well, I guess that is another "must do" I can cross off my list. Really, thanks for the vicarious experience and saving me $600 in the process!
     
  6. Saltricks

    Saltricks Senior member

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    I've been meaning to go here. It's sad to see that bad service/ food is still possible even at french laundry
     
  7. mordecai

    mordecai Senior member

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    Thanks for the honest review. Well, I guess that is another "must do" I can cross off my list. Really, thanks for the vicarious experience and saving me $600 in the process!
    +1
     
  8. edmorel

    edmorel Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    will wait to hear from vox before saying anything.
     
  9. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    So I count ten courses, of which you strongly disliked two, really loved two, and at least liked six. This is not such a negative review, it seems to me.
     
  10. Hombre Secreto

    Hombre Secreto Senior member

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    Maybe the place is losing too much money? BOH and FOH are probably more stressed out than usual. Wouldn't surprise me with the current economy.
     
  11. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    Matt, thanks for the brief and honest write up. For my mental balance sheet, that dinner vs. Cyrus with the pairings?
     
  12. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Matt, thanks for the brief and honest write up. For my mental balance sheet, that dinner vs. Cyrus with the pairings?
    I've been to Cyrus half a dozen times in my life. The dinner we had was similar to five of those times, with one meal being much worse than the others. This was considerably worse that the time we went, and probably as good as the worst meal I have had at Cyrus.
     
  13. Douglas

    Douglas Senior member

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    $600? Really?

    Jeepers, maybe I'm not going to make it to the FL.
     
  14. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It's $240 a head, which includes service but not wine (or any drinks at all for that matter).
     
  15. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It's $240 a head, which includes service but not wine (or any drinks at all for that matter).
    $270 if you want an extremely flawed foie gras preparation.
     
  16. Piobaire

    Piobaire Senior member

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    I've been to Cyrus half a dozen times in my life. The dinner we had was similar to five of those times, with one meal being much worse than the others. This was considerably worse that the time we went, and probably as good as the worst meal I have had at Cyrus.

    Wow. Think you caught them on a bad night at TFL?

    Edit: Scratch that. For that money and with that reputation, a place is not allowed a bad night.
     
  17. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Wow. Think you caught them on a bad night at TFL?

    Edit: Scratch that. For that money and with that reputation, a place is not allowed a bad night.

    I assume that I did.
     
  18. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    sounds like a bad night, which really sucks because they don't give you a discount for those, do they?
     
  19. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    sounds like a bad night, which really sucks because they don't give you a discount for those, do they?
    That is what I assume, though it is hard for me to imagine that I would have liked the foie preparation on any night. It was just overworked, and didn't retain the taste or texture of a good torchon. I think that was on purpose, and I think I understand why, though I disagree with it. I don't know about the mackerel, but I should say that the other fish dish, which one woman at the table got, was quite good, maybe excellent. As to the temperature of the food, that is pretty difficult since it seems as though they cook nearly all of the proteins sous vide. It is hard to hold temp if something is the same temperature all the way through. I wonder how they get around that on a good day. Still, that didn't bother me as much as it bothered some of the other people at the table. I don't like my food to be super hot anyway.
     
  20. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    i did notice the repeated mention of temperatures. personally, unless i expect a dish to be super-hot or super-cold, that's not something i notice very much, though i have a friend who basically uses it as a first-line criteria. funny. i'm the same way with the textures in wine. unless it's extreme, it just doesn't occur to me.
    i've eaten at tfl many times and have had some of the best meals of my life there. the one disappointing meal i had was when tk wanted me to taste all of his new exec's dishes. they were good, and perfectly executed, but not to the measure of oysters and pearls or cauliflower with caviar, etc. that was the one time i regretted our friendship as i stared longingly at the plates of the people at the next table who were free to order whatever they wished.
     

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