Category: Cuisine

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.
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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,

YKI

Super Bowl Sunday: The Calories Won

Super Bowl: The game that ended up with an inspirational New Orleans Saints victory yesterday over the Indianapolis Colts. . .or where the amalgamation of what I ate yesterday will end up?

My final ‘nutrition’ total from Super Bowl Sunday, as per the amazing MyPlate tool on LiveStrong:

Calories Sugars Carbs Fat Protein Cholesterol Sodium Fiber
5395.6 66 456 226 1446 5226 7,839 35
233% of RDA
143% 282% 298% 249% 151% 282% 141%
Fitness: No exercises Recorded.


What was on the menu, you ask? Everything from Argentina (empanadas) to Italy (Salametto) to Spain (Queso). Very enjoyable, very FATTENING. Fun stuff.

Item Name Calories Sugars Carbs Fats Protein Cholesterol Sodium Fiber
Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) 110 0 7 0 0.8 0 6 0
Simply Orange Orange Juice 110 22 26 0 2 0 0 0
Vodka 138 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Salametti Secchi 285 0 1.5 21 0 0 0 0
Green Bean Casserole 155 3 17 8 4 4 678 4
Guacamole 60 0 6.2 2.3 1.4 0 130.12 0
Hummus 100 2 10 6 2 0 0 0
Jicama 46 2 11 0 1 0 5 6
Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) 330 0 21 0 2.4 0 18 0
Moro (blood) Orange 70 14 15 1 1 0 0 3
Pita Bread 170 0.52 35.2 1.66 6.27 0 340 4.7
Pork Baby Back Ribs 351 0 0 27 27 120 495 0
Spinach Empanada 476 0 37 30 17 107 445 5
Tortilla Chips-lightly Salted 140 0 18 7 2 0 85 1
Average Cheese Pizza Slice 272 4.1 33 9.8 12.3 22 551 1.8
Cheese Enchilada 374 0.88 35.43 18.23 14.37 40.26 1001.24 0.21
Grilled Chicken Wings 260 0 3.48 20 20 20 408 3.2
Medium Hand Tossed Pizza With Pineapple And Jalapeno 177 3 26 5 7 10 450 1
Pepperoni Pizza Slice 309 0 14.9 13 0 0 0 0
Spinach Empanada 285.6 0 22.2 18 10.2 64.2 267 3
Cake, Carrot 411 0 73.02 11.95 4.49 51.04 518.68 0
Chicken Empanadas 261 4.3 22 16.6 7.1 84 2336 1.5
Chocolate Chip 160 10 21 8 2 0 105 1
Silver Tequila 138 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Vodka 207 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5396 66 456 225 144 523 7839

YallKiltIt in the Napa Valley: The French Laundry took us to the Cleaners

Thanks for the feedback about me not posting this weekend.  Here’s why YallKiltIt was in absentia:

My wife and I were in Calistoga (Napa Valley), Cottage Grove Inn to be precise, celebrating my fourth year of Wedded Bliss. Decided to check out
The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s Three-Michelin Star restaurant, and plan a weekend around the gastronimic/economic overkill.
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Review to come later, but let’s say we walked away much more impressed with the surrounding area – and the aesthetics of the restaurant – than the food itself.  Definitely did not live up to it’s two-time Restaurant of the Year (World) rating from Restaurant Magazine.

On our Tour-de-Michelin, this place comes in well below:
Providence, Melrose/Los Angeles
Gordon Ramsay at the London, Hollywood
The Dining Room at the Langham, Pasadena
Craft, Century City
Joe’s Restaurant, Venice
Chez Panisse, Berkeley
Lola, Seattle
The Hump, Santa Monica
Furthermore, “TFL” was not as impressive as up-and-comer Fig (Santa Monica).

It is, however, superior (in our opinion) to:
The Water Grill, Downtown
Osteria Mozza, Melrose/Los Angeles
-and-
Rivera, Downtown
These are each restaurants that provided same result, emanating from differing perspectives: Water Grill “on the way down and barely hanging on to its Michelin Star,” Rivera & Mozza “the new superstar of Los Angeles”.

It’s not to say the food at TFL wasn’t spectacular, it’s just when we pay twice as much for a Chef’s Tasting Menu than you’ve ever paid – even at the priciest of L.A. joints – you expect literal out-of-this-world food. There wasn’t one dish (out of nine courses, two amous bouches & three desserts) that had us saying “wow – I wish we had more of that.”

All in all, great weekend and special props to the massage team at Cottage Grove Inn for proving to me that massages really are pretty awesome.

Also, Old Faithful Geyser (of California) was pretty amazing, as was our face-to-face with llamas and big-horn sheep.

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For the remainder of the Napa Valley pics, CLICK HERE. Now back to the sports, hip hop, media & Los Angeles insight. . .

The Dining Room at Langham, Pasadena

Something a little different today; a kudos, if you will, for Chef Michael Voltaggio of the Michelin-Starred Langham Dining Room in Pasadena.

The Top Chef star executed a truly flawless meal. In the past two years, Irene & I have made a concerted effort to eat at the most-acclaimed restaurants in the Los Angeles area, including Providence, Water Grill, London, Joe’s in Venice, Craft, Katsu-Ya (Sherman Oaks) and Fig.

With Michael Cimarusti’s Providence being our first two-star (Michelin) restaurant and the most comprehensive meal we’ve enjoyed, Voltaggio did not disappoint – instead, serving seven luscious courses (not including the Amous Bouche, two breads and a post-dessert dessert). Below is the Chef’s tasting menu from the evening:

The Dining Room

Chef’s Tasting Menu

Japanese Shima Aji

Pickled Baby Peach, Sea Sponge, Bonito

2006 Hans Wirsching Riesling Spätlese Trocken, Iphöfer Kronsberg, Franken

Langoustine

Young Fennel, Lobster Mushroom Lasagna

2008 Terredora Dipaolo, Falanghina DOC, Campania

Foie Gras

Aerated Brioche, Concord Grape, Sunchoke

2003 von Hövel Oberemmeler Hütte Spätlese, Saar

Turbot

Butternut Squash, Madras Curry, Pumpkin Seed Granola

2008 Domaine Perrot-Minot, Chardonnay, Cuvée Martine, France

Pastrami Pigeon

Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, Rye

2008 Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County

Jameson Farm Lamb

Vadouvan, Pickled Tongue, Celery, Raisin, Peanut Butter

2007 Turley Juvenile, Zinfandel, California

Fools Gold

Chocolate, Salty Hazelnut Praline, Milk Sorbet

González Byass Solera 1847, Oloroso Dulce Sherry, Jerez, Spain

Very enjoyable experience from service to environ to food, and we will definitely be following Voltaggio to his new digs once the Langham closes for renovations in 2010.