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Going to French Laundry for the first time, need some suggestions

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Saltricks, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. Saltricks

    Saltricks Senior member

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    I'll be dining at French Laundry next week for my birthday. Not the type of place I can go ever day, so I've been saving my pennies for a few weeks just to be able to fly up and have a good time.

    My question is in regards to wine:
    I don't think I'll be able to afford their wine pairings (I've heard their wine list is pretty overpriced for what you get), and not having a particular taste for wine yet, I don't think it would be worth it anyway. It is a special occasion however, and I'm willing to pay the corkage fee to bring in something special to have with dinner. I was thinking of a nice champagne (Dom perhaps), but when would you enjoy this? During the first few courses...with the main...dessert? Or maybe there is a nice bottle that you men can suggest for a young wine noob such as myself, that would help a lot too.

    Oh, and if you have any other suggestions for a better experience at French Laundry, I'm all ears.
     
  2. CouttsClient

    CouttsClient Senior member

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    Don't take that friend you're always writing about here
     
  3. Saltricks

    Saltricks Senior member

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    Lol, that's a given. He'd probably jump kick thomas keller when he saw the bill.
     
  4. mgm9128

    mgm9128 Senior member

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    Keller can make you a special "Club" "Soda" with "Lemon".
     
  5. Saltricks

    Saltricks Senior member

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    Is this a joke regarding his overuse of quotation marks in his menu? I know it seems a little pretentious to do that, but I didn't really notice it until people pointed it out.
     
  6. gomestar

    gomestar Senior member

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    don't bring Dom. Paying corkage for a wine on the list is a major faux pas.

    Also, don't buy Dom from the list either, it's overpriced to the point of hilarity. As Manton would say, it's a giant middle finger pointed at the diner (although he was referring to Keller's Per Se wine list).

    And Keller wont be making you shit let alone a "club" "soda" with "lemon".
     
  7. gomestar

    gomestar Senior member

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    also, this is IMO, but Champagne can be enjoyed with most anything.
     
  8. mgm9128

    mgm9128 Senior member

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    I only really noticed it when gome pointed it out mocking a quail dish I made. I thought it was pretty funny.
     
  9. Saltricks

    Saltricks Senior member

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    Wow, good to know. Haha. MAJOR faux pas? :( a minor faux pas i may have done it, but not if its a major one. Any champagne recs?
     
  10. mgm9128

    mgm9128 Senior member

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    And seriously, If I were in your position, I would just look for a reasonably priced Chardonnay on their menu. Something buttery that would go with both fish and meat. Ramey Russian River Valley is pretty good.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  11. gomestar

    gomestar Senior member

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    I wasn't actually intending to "make fun of you". But "quotes" really "annoy me". And the menu at Per Se is "full of them".

    Yes major. I suppose others may disagree, but bringing in a wine that is also on a wine list is kind of a no-no. I'm happy to browse through TFL list and give some recs (for value and quality).

    FWIW, corking at Per Se is $90 a bottle. I'd have to be spending $300+ in a store for that to seem worth it to me.
     
  12. gomestar

    gomestar Senior member

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    Chablis.
     
  13. mgm9128

    mgm9128 Senior member

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    In all honesty, If you're going to do a tasting menu at The French Laundry, I think the wine pairing is somewhat essential to the overall experience. It will be hard to buy a bottle that can pair well and compliment each and every one of Keller's "dishes".
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  14. Young Pro

    Young Pro Senior member

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    For the record, there is no "official" wine pairing option at TFL. However, the sommelier will be happy to help you select wine within a budget and based on your tastes. In doing so, they will pick from glasses and bottles on their list, so there are no smaller 1-2oz pours that are typical of other restaurants that offer pairings.

    I was there in April, and had the sommelier pick 2 glasses (from their per-glass list) and a dessert wine (my wife was not feeling well so opted not to drink). For 2 or more, you have a lot more to work with since you can have a couple of half bottles.

    While it's true that the wine list at TFL is terrifically overpriced in general, there are some reasonable values to be found. The list is posted online, so do your research beforehand.
     
  15. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    i'm with young pro. tfl wine list is punishingly expensive unless you have enough experience to navigate it. but the staff works really hard to make sure that everyone has the best possible experience. if it were me, i would e-mail whoever sent you the confirmation. be completely honest and even begging (always works). tell them that you're a poor student who has always dreamed of eating there and now you will be, but your budget won't stretch to include the wine pairings. ask if they have some advice. i'd be willing to be that they will be able to find some way to make the evening great.
     
  16. gomestar

    gomestar Senior member

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    I actually looked at the Per Se list again today, and I think I found some decent values. Not good, in fact the pricing is pretty terrible, but I still think they're of ok value compared to the other stuff on the Per Se list. A 1er Chablis from a great producer and a 1er from Vosne-Romanee from a producer I've enjoyed in the past (and the 1er is available in both 1996 and 2002, both vintages I like). I never thought I'd be able to find two wines like this on the Per Se list for a combined $575, but I have!!
     
  17. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    my guess is that if you really scoured the list, you'd find a couple of surprises. granted, not big-name wines, but delicious wines that you've probably never heard of that would pair well with the food. there's an art to building a big-deal list. you've got to have all the first growths and culties for the high-rollers to feel like they're getting their experience; but you've also got to leaven it with some decent values, or at least, decent enough while still fitting the profit margin requirements.
     
  18. Saltricks

    Saltricks Senior member

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    Fair enough, Some wines on there fit my budget...but should I just ask the sommellier to choose and give him our price range? I really have no idea what would be a good deal or what would taste good at all with my food.
     
  19. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    that's exactly what i would do. be completely honest (and even better, do it in advance so they have some time to do some homework). "this meal is a very big moment for me, but i'm afraid i can only afford to spend $150 to $200 on wines. What do you recommend?"
    this won't work at every restaurant, but at most every great restaurant, the staff is really invested in making sure you have a memorable evening. they'll bend over backwards to make sure it works.
    quick story: i was in the restaurant one night when a guy was going to propose. he'd e-mailed them a couple of months in advance, had them build a chocolate model of his house with a removable roof where he was going to put the ring. they did it, took a couple of tries to get it to his satisfaction. at the end, he was e-mailing like every day and a half (think conne). finally, the big night came ... and he left the ring in his car. so the manager (TKs fiancee) had to walk a couple of blocks ... in the rain ... to the car to fetch the ring.
    I don't even want to know what that bill was. couldn't have been enough.
     
  20. gomestar

    gomestar Senior member

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    I found the '86 Mouton Rothschild for $1650, which isn't bad at all considering wine-searcher is showing me it's available for $900-1000 in stores.

    But eff me, I was looking in Per Se's half-bottle section :fu: The full bottle is on their list for $5,100


    I'm sure there are hidden values, but I have never had to look so hard.
     

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