The French Laundry - overrated? | FerrariChat

The French Laundry - overrated?

Discussion in 'Drink, Smoke, and Fine Dining' started by F430Bill, Oct 19, 2021.

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  1. F430Bill

    F430Bill Karting

    Apr 21, 2021
    55
    South Florida
    Full Name:
    Bill
    I have dined at The French Laundry twice, one time pre-covid and another time a few weeks ago.

    Don't get me wrong, I do love this restaurant, but my last visit for a party of 4 with 2 bottles of $150 wine was $2,800 so that is $700 per person and at this point, I simply think it is too expensive, overrated, and no longer worth it.

    Just the A5 Wygu beef upgrade from the standard lamb cost an extra $100pp, and even that was good, but a steep upgrade in price. I am not whining or complaining, I just think there are much better experiences out there that are in the Michelin 1 and 2 star that offer a better experience than the 3 star French Laundry.

    Now that said, this is still a bucket list restaurant and I am not trying to talk anyone out of going.
     
  2. I've gone several times (both pre and post Covid).

    Each time the experience loses some of its luster.

    FL is a fine restaurant, but it fails to innovate and change.

    Oyster and Pearls is a great inventive dish. The first time. The second or third time? Not so much. By the fourth time, it's just fish eggs in butter. Meh.
     
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  3. Edward 96GTS

    Edward 96GTS F1 Veteran
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    Nov 1, 2003
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    #3 Edward 96GTS, Oct 20, 2021
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
    seems a lot of nice restaurants have increased pricing and down sized the portions with less than ideal service.
    all though we did enjoy our one and only french laundry experience 25 yrs ago.
    btw. some yrs ago we spent $600+ in paris for lunch at a top rated restaurant. 3 people. no alcohol.
    left hungry and less than impressed. got outside and wife said “im done with this type of food”.
    best $600 i ever spent.
     
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  4. fatbillybob

    fatbillybob Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Aug 10, 2002
    26,750
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    But Franklin’s fatty brisket is always nirvana…
     
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  5. tgee's458

    tgee's458 Karting

    Jan 20, 2012
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    Teg
    Have you tried Single Thread in Healdsburg? Also, there is a new restaurant opening soon in Calistoga, part of the Four Seasons Resort...Do the corkage ,next time for the French Laundry...
     
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  6. Innovativethinker

    Innovativethinker F1 Veteran
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    Aug 8, 2009
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    Have the prices gone up 50%, 100% or more?

    I think up to 50% cost increase is probably reasonable, above that probably not.

    Service is dependent on training, supervision and available talent (staff). The last two are rare commodities these days.

    That translates to the food providers as well, so the product that is purchased to prepare the meals have probably dropped off in quality.

    Service, just about everywhere, is in a decline. It will take years, if it does happen, to return to the days of the exceptional service mindset.

    I dine at my club 2-4 times a week, they add something like 18.5% gratuity to the bill, I then add another 20% on top of that. I started that during Covid. I get pretty good service, often to the chagrin of other members. Of course, one would have to go to the same place frequently for the extra tipping to become known among the staff.

    I am always open to learn of exceptional dining experiences, so if anyone has a suggestion, maybe we can start a thread by area?
     
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  7. arizonaitalian

    arizonaitalian Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Oct 29, 2010
    20,142
    Wyoming
    And harder to get than a table at FL ;)
     
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  8. F430Bill

    F430Bill Karting

    Apr 21, 2021
    55
    South Florida
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    Bill
    I am not sure what the price trend at TFL has been, but it seems the number servings have decreased since my precovid visit, but dont hold me on that one.

    I went to Addison Restaurant in San Diego the week before and it is a Michelin 1 star and I think had a far better experience (for the money). In other words, I would gladly return to Addison where it would take a really special reason to go back to TFL.
     
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  9. Alpintourer

    Alpintourer F1 Rookie
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    Jul 20, 2013
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    Is any experience as good as the first time?
    Sex, Food, Geography?
     
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  10. F12finally

    F12finally Karting
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    Jan 21, 2020
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    Lonnie Robinson
    $150 per bottle


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  11. F12finally

    F12finally Karting
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    Jan 21, 2020
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    Single Thread is better. I also liked the chef’s table in the kitchen at Meadowood better before it burnt down.


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  12. Innovativethinker

    Innovativethinker F1 Veteran
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    Indeed, Meadowood was an outstanding experience.
     
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  13. David_S

    David_S F1 World Champ
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    Nov 1, 2003
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    Would say, at this "vaunted level," no server should be anywhere near the "floor," if they aren't 100% spot on & "ready for prime time." PERIOD.
     
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  14. Single Thread is very good. 3 Star Michelin? Not so sure, but it is quite the dining experience.

    We sat the Chef's Table and it was both show and dinner all rolled in one.

    If you go, definitely consider staying overnight at the Inn.
     
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  15. Borrow’d Mine

    Borrow’d Mine Formula Junior
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    Nov 28, 2019
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    Alinea in Chicago. Bucket list as restaurants go.


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  16. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Seven Time F1 World Champ
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    I liked the first time so much, I went back for seconds.


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  17. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Seven Time F1 World Champ
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    Now that I’m old, I’m really, really trying to avoid being a grumpy old. No, seriously. But, for me, spending that much money on dinner would ruin it for me. Been there. Done that. Ain’t doing that no mo.


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  18. F12finally

    F12finally Karting
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    Sitting in my backyard in Yountville right now after diner at Bistro Jeanty. Smoking a cigar drinking a fantastic Napa cab. Doesn’t get much better. Rain coming in hard tonight and the weekend. Dry right now. All of the high end dining is nice but the old stand by can’t be beat. Sat at the bar and talked to local friends and new ones. Community. Best ever.


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  19. F12finally

    F12finally Karting
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    Jan 21, 2020
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    I have dined at the Laundry over 20 times. Some good some OK. Jeanty for the win.


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  20. thought EMP was better before it went all vegan.
     
  21. tgee's458

    tgee's458 Karting

    Jan 20, 2012
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    Cigar and a cognac!
     
  22. arizonaitalian

    arizonaitalian Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Oct 29, 2010
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    In my experience, for many folks they need to somehow forget about the cost to enjoy 3-star dining (and it’s not about their ability to afford, I know plenty of very wealthy people that struggle with the value and “rightness” of a $1000 dinner whilst having tens of millions in the bank). Everyone that I’ve invited to FL that talks about the cost ends up saying something ain’t the lines of “disappointed” “not as good as I expected” etc etc. So, it’s sorta a mind set to say I’m going to enjoy the meal and evaluate it on its merits without considering the cost.

    for me, and in my observations of others, letting your brain attempt to correlate value at this level, is a recipe for disappointment or unmet expectations.

    And, it’s a simple truism that cost and enjoyment of a meal are not perfectly linearly correlated. That’s hardly news.
     
  23. LVP488

    LVP488 F1 Rookie

    Jan 21, 2017
    4,967
    France
    There is the famous law of diminished return - so that, when considered in terms of value-for-money, the most expensive restaurants (or whatever) will not fare favourably.
    It's more interesting to compare (and enjoy) the experiences without considering the prices...
    Fortunately for me, I tend to go to relatively expensive restaurants only as part of some packages / events, so I do not really mind or know about the specific prices - I think that makes judgements more relaxed.
    The Pur' in Paris (Hyatt Vendôme restaurant, only one-star Michelin) was an exception to that, since I booked a table for a special occasion - and I was not disappointed. I think it was on par with many two-star restaurants (three-star tend to be on another level in most cases).
     
  24. spirot

    spirot F1 World Champ

    Dec 12, 2005
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    I've not been to TFL since Covid, but was at Per Se not too long ago, and the food was great, as was the service, so it met my expectations. I think Thomas Keller is starting to pull back his personal time in each kitchen, and that will inevitably reduce some of the quality. being in the business, its just hard to keep up that level all the time. there are only a couple of Chefs across the world who have been able to build a 3 star Michelin empire... Roubochon, Ducasse, Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay, Daniel Boulud. those are the ones I know, and if you go to any of them, they are sometimes up and down, but the theme is they are consistently better than the competition.

    as for value -that is not what 3 star Michelin dining is about. You are paying for the performance - not getting full. its like buying a La Ferrari - and complaining about gas mileage. ... that is not what it's there for.

    if you don't enjoy food - in terms of execution, exactness, and flavors... then yes, it's a complete waste. If food is entertainment for you, and you like truffles from Perigord, and alba on Uni and foie gras, etc.... then Michelin Star restaurants are the F1 of the food world.

    our last dinner at TFL -was great as expected, Thomas was nice to come out, and we did the tour, talked with Larry etc... and the staff... once we were there for lunch and it was actually Valentines weekend, ( were there on Friday - Valentines was on Saturday ) and I just asked Thomas, where would you go in SF for dinner? he says Bennu. Then asked his manager to call the restaurant and make us a reservation... ( when we went - they comped us! ) compliments of TFL... !!! and we met Cory Lee.

    as for pricing... yes, its all gone way up. Staffing at TFL is tough. lots of people want in but few make it and less stay. the training is hard, and rigorous, and its not for everyone. the cost to maintain that level of service is very high. that is what you are paying for.
     
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  25. Dai Baracca

    Dai Baracca Formula Junior

    Mar 4, 2007
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    #25 Dai Baracca, Nov 10, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
    That is a recipe for disaster for a restaurant. People will not balk at price increases, especially now, if the quality of food & service is the same.
    as far as high end dining goes....I view it as entertainment, an experience. That experience being the food, service & ambiance. Everything is important and is judged on those elements.
    It is a subjective experience, not everyone is into Chef's tasting menus.
    I am 3rd generation in the hospitality industry. I have seen many things/trends. Some innovative, some just change for the shock factor.
    My most enjoyable meals have always been about the company I dined with, family and/or close friends.
    I have dined at FL, Per Se & the now defunct Tak Room. Per Se was the only one that made me say: Yup I want to dine here again.
     
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