Best of 2011: The French Laundry (Yountville, CA)

Best of 2011: The French Laundry (Yountville, CA)

American cuisine inspired by food of the French countryside is offered, where no ingredient is repeated in a nine-course tasting menu.

Destination Bottles:

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1969 La Tâche
Screaming Eagle 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville)
Château Pétrus 1947 Pomerol

Head Sommelier Dennis Kelly’s wine program features nearly 300 offerings in half bottles uniquely suited to pair with French Laundry’s vaunted tasting menu, as well as significant depth of vintages for many selections.

For more information about this Yountville, CA, restaurant, click here.

For more Napa Valley restaurants, visit For more Napa Valley restaurants, visit étoile Restaurant, La Toque,  The Restaurant at Auberge de Soleil, The Restaurant at Meadowood and Redd.

Hot Chef: Thomas Keller

Wine Enthusiast: How has your cuisine evolved since you opened The French Laundry in 1994?

Thomas Keller: It’s more about refining and modernizing dishes rather than changing them. We’re not looking for new—we’re looking for constant improvement.

WE: Where do you get ideas for your dishes?

TK: We change the menu daily. Therein lies the spontaneity of our food—it’s a market-driven menu. We want to be inspired by our ingredients.

WE: What’s the influence of the restaurant’s garden?

TK: It not only increases the quality of the vegetables, it gets people inspired. When young chefs are engaged in the farm and garden, it brings a different level to the respect they have for their craft and for life in general.

WE: Your dishes present many flavor components. How do you identify the best wine pairing?

TK: Our flavor profiles need to pair easily with wines from around the world. In our lobster dish we have smokiness in bacon, sweetness in beets, richness in tarragon and crème fraîche, and the wonderful brininess of lobster. That works with a rich Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir.

WE: I understand you’re a fan of Zinfandel.

TK: I like the youngness and forward fruit of Zinfandel paired with roasted chicken—always one of my favorites.

WE: What might people not know about The French Laundry?

TK: Every great restaurant wants to give guests a full experience—when they leave, they have memories to take with them. It’s those memories that establish our level of success. I think that at the end of the day the more memories we have, the more successfully we’ve led our lives. We want to establish wonderful memories for individuals about a time and a place and the people they’ve dined with.