Many consider The French Laundry to be America’s best restaurant. It will appear on some lists as the best restaurant in the world and Thomas Keller is always mentioned as one of the world’s best. After my first meal many years ago, my cynical side decried that anyone wanting to open a successful business should hire TFL’s PR agency. My Per Se meal (a sister NY restaurant) merely confirmed that. Suffice to say, the meals did not live up to their mythical status.
My European adventure showed me that some American restaurants are up to the task of competing w/ their European brethren. Jean Georges, the late Bastide, Manresa, and Bouley could absolutely hold their own in Europe. But what about TFL? My Per Se meal last year was mired in inconsistency and disappointment; could the mothership deliver a true 3*** experience?
I’ve since had 2 meals at TFL – one lunch and one dinner. I didn’t take notes for the first meal but the menus were similar enough. The overriding theme? Consistency. TFL takes less chances than my favorites, and while it’s harder to hit highs, their philosophy assures they do not miss. It’s a safe meal by today’s standards, but its consistency make it one of the better meals.
1. Oysters and Pearls
2. Moulard Duck “Foie Gras En Terrine”
Served w/ santa rosa plum “confiture”, shaved celery branch, toasted “brioche”, and 100 year old aged balsamic, served w/ 3 different sea salts: jurassic (montana), hana pepper (hawaiian), & brittany. The foie is some of the best i’ve ever had – airy light & deliciously rich. the brioche is switched out after 2 minutes and one feels obligated to eat it. The hana pepper salt complemented the foie best. The balsamic was applied tableside as 3 drops – for the $30 supplement, you’d think they would spare a touch more. Very Good.
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