If you are lucky enough to secure a reservation and dine at The French Laundry your friends will inevitably ask you “How much did you spend?” and “was it worth it?” The best restaurant in the US and 4 Michelin Stars for the past decade The French Laundry is known to be expensive.
A Chef’s tasting menu is $270 per person and is the same for lunch or dinner; service is included but wine is not. Seasonal and exotic specialties like winter black truffle and Kobe beef will cost additional $75 to $100. So basically you are looking at around $1000 for a meal for two people.
Sticker Shock? We watched the other 5 tables in our dining room receive their bill, and every group made an audible gasp, nervous laugh, or a table of 6 cheered as they had taken bets on who could guess the price closest to the final bill. The French Laundry is not about value; it’s about farm-to-table, tasty-organic-french-food.
The intangible part of The French Laundry is the service. Included in the total price and rightly so as it was as important to your experience as the food itself. They pay attention to detail and make sure your dining experience is timed just right.
Foodies have told me I can’t compare meals from three Michelin Star restaurants and those that don’t make the cut, they say it’s ‘like apples and orange’. At some point (usually after several bottles of wine) even a devout foodie thinks apples and oranges are both food.
So have I eaten better FOOD than The French Laundry? Yes, several times.
Have I had better service? No, but other Michelin Star establishments come close. Notably at Akelare in San Sebastian located high on a cliff with a spectacular view and featuring Nuevo Spanish cuisine; Chef Owner Pedro Subijana greets each table personally and signs menus, lunch for 2 with wine was 450 Euros.
Expensive is an opinion, NOT a number. I can’t say whether you have $1000 to spend on a four hour lunch experience, maybe you do and if so, go nuts.
If you are a working class foodie like myself, and are seeking a meal at The French Laundry because it is #1 and you simply must check it off your bucket list, you may want to think twice.
Was putting $1000 on my credit card for a lunch for 2 worth it? No.
Was it the best dining experience I have ever had? Nope, but it was up there.
Would I do it again? Only if you are paying.