The French Laundry is one of the hardest restaurants to get into and one of the best rated in the world (complete with three Michelin stars). Often times finding vegetarian and vegan items at “French” restaurants is next to impossible. Lucky for me The French Laundry has two tasting menus and one is a “tasting of vegetables.” Yes it’s a prix fixe for $270 (service included), so is it worth the price? Here’s what I had. All 12 courses:
Gruyère Cheese Gougères: I could have eaten a whole basket of these.They were light and fluffy, melting in my mouth.
Avocado Tartare Cornet (husband's salmon cornet in background). The cone was one of the best I've had and the avocado was fresh and full of flavor.
Fava Bean "Bavarois" with Garden Mint and Nantes Carrot Vinaigrette. Not usually a huge mint fan, but this starter tasted like it came straight from the garden to the table. That is entirely possible too, because The French Laundry has a garden right across the street from the restaurant where they get up to 30% of their produce.
Artichokes "En Barigoule" with Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Petite Onions, Parsley and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Powder.
Salad of French Laundry Garden Baby Beets with Ruby Red Grapefruit, Hass Avocado, Toasted Cashews and Oxalis (edible wild plants). This was from my husband's Chef's Tasting Menu. The hubby said the cashew cream was what separated this dish from other beet dishes. He declared "so unique"!
"Salade de Choux-Fleurs Rotis". This was fried cauliflower with charred orange reduction and tardivo radicchio.
Ash-Baked Holland White Asparagus with field rhubard, piedmont hazelbuts, petite lettuces and black winter truffle. This was my favorite dish of the night. I ate ever last morsel on the place. The ash on the asparagus was simply marvelous. A taste I can't recall having before, but it's definitely a flavor I'll never forget.
This was an extra the Chef sent out for us. Housemade Gnocchi. The most tender gnocchi I've ever had with a very simple sauce. Loved it! While I love sauce, I really like that The French Laundry lets the dishes shine so you can taste individual flavors.
Heirloom Beets "Cuites Sous Vide" with Marble Potatoes, Broccolini and Malt Vinegar "Sabayon". For those that don't know, sous vide is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath. This is typically a procedure used for various meat, so I was glad to see it used for a vegetarian dish.
Andante Dairy Sheep's Milk "Gnudi" with Arrowleaf Spinach, Red Pearl Onions, Walnuts and Parmesan "Nuage". Gnudi is a nude ravioli, similar to a gnocchi made with ricotta and a little flour. Andante is the name of the dairy farm where the cheese comes from. I looked the dairy up and the animals there do roam freely on grass.
Meyer Lemon Sorbet with Ricotta Pound Cake, Oxalis and Toasted Meringue. This was basically a deconstructed lemon meringue pie. I normally wouldn't order that particular dessert, but this was lovely! Not too tart, not too sweet. Just right.
Coeur de Guanaja Chocolate "Souffle" with Vanilla Ice Cream and "Sauce de Caramel Sale". I normally love souffle's but I have to say this was more like a brownie to me. A delicious brownie!
"Pecan Pie" with Verjus-Poached Honey Pears, Maple-Brown Butter "Gastrique" and Grains of Paradise Ice Cream. This was the hubby's dessert!
Just when we thought we were done, more food comes! Can you tell how tired I am here (my make-up has even worn off)? We flew in from NYC this same morning and were on East Coast time. By this point of the meal it was around 11p West Coast time, so that's 2am our time. No matter what time of the day, though, I can't resist doughnuts. This was beignet doughnut holes with semi-frozen coffee. Both were absolutely divine.
A fitting end to the night was a nice look inside the French Laundry kitchen where we met Sous Chef Jonathan Mizukami. He told me this was the job of a lifetime. He should be proud of his work because he did a good job indeed!