French Laundry: Follow-Up Letter to Chef Keller

In regard to my somewhat incomplete post on The French Laundry – where I merely mentioned the disappontment – I’ve been receiving comments along the lines of:
you stupid moron, you dont know food
go home and cook some soup, idiot
chef keller is a genius. . .you sir, are not

Accordingly, I am publishing the letter detailing my disappointment.
This letter was physically  mailed by my Wife on February 1st, and as of yet I have NOT received a response from The Chef or his staff.
Keep Smiling, Chef

Chef Thomas Keller

c/o The French Laundry

6640 Washington St,

Yountville, CA 94599

February 1, 2010

Chef Keller –

I want to commend you on your accomplishments, as having a restaurant that is amongst the most well-reviewed in the entire world is very significant. It is precisely because of these accolades that my Wife and I decided to plan our fourth wedding anniversary vacation around the reservations to The French Laundry.

I realize that as a young, relatively inexperienced food novice my opinion is probably not very credible to you or your staff, but I do have some comments from the meal that my wife and I shared on January 30th, 2010.

First and foremost, your Maître d’, Nicola, was extremely attentive and knowledgeable, welcoming us to the restaurant warmly, and offering to take our respective jackets. However, after waiting for the greater part of 30 minutes, even Nicola must have felt a tad bit embarrassed – these reservations are set precisely because of the appropriated timing of the Chef’s Tasting Menu – and offered us a drink, which did offset a bit of my apprehension.

After seating, we were forced to wait another 10 minutes before even receiving a drink, an amuse bouche, or a server’s attention. Again, at an inferior restaurant this is notable but at a three-Michelin Star recipient. . .we were beginning to feel as if perhaps we were not welcome in the establishment.

Now about the food – the most important, I realize – I have no criticisms of the preparation, the ingredients or the execution. Your dishes are paramount to maintaining your reputation, and we have minimal critiques of anything we were served. Once service commenced, the multitude of staff was well-versed on the dishes and ingredients, and treated us kindly.

That said, however, we felt a bit short-changed at the conclusion of our meal as well. Knowing that your esteemed Coffee & Doughnuts is in limited-release, we called ahead of time, where one of your employees assured us that this would be noted on our reservation – this was definitely an element of the Keller Experience. It goes without saying, then, that while we watched couplets of dish come out of the kitchen, we surely expected we would be on the receiving end of a duo. Unfortunately, we were not. One of your servers did apologize profusely, advising us to “call ahead next time” – which again, we did, knowing that this exact situation would occur. We were then offered another piece of brioche bread, which while delicious is certainly NOT your Coffee & Doughnuts.

Lastly, we were envious of the patrons that were leaving with copies of their tasting menus, shortbread cookies and other ‘goodies’ in a customized The French Laundry bag. Once we paid our bill, we were notified that the restaurant had indeed run out of the bags as well.

Mr. Keller, I realize that there are certain circumstances beyond your control, but at a restaurant that inspired us to call two months to the day (to the minute, 10am sharp!) to get reservations that ended up costing us close to $1,000 (a steep price for a couple of twentysomethings), we did expect a bit more. In fact, we were very excited to attend Bouchon in our native Los Angeles, but waited to try The Original first. Now, we’re not so sure that we want to visit your Los Angeles location.

Your food is spectacular, Chef, but we were underwhelmed otherwise. I do not expect you to answer this letter as I know you are busy with your other projects now, but I do hope this is brought to your attention because there are other restaurants out there that are executing to a high-degree, and not disappointing their clientele.

Thank you for your time and if you shall feel so inspired, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely Yours,




  1. GourmetSin

    I see your points, and first of all you were MUCH too nice in this letter. For that kind of money (I’m assuming it’s around $1,000 for the two of you?), you DO have the right to expect elite service…and for the staff to have the gall to tell you to “ask next time” for the Chef’s signature dish is just appalling. It’s too bad you didn’t enjoy because it really is a spectacular restaurant. I have heard recently, though, that the quality of TFL has declined as the Chef’s attention has been diverted with all of his new projects.

  2. daleraspen

    Chef Keller is a genius. His restaurants are often not representative of this, especially since he opened additional locations.

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