The French Laundry is a French restaurant located in Yountville, California, in the Napa Valley. The chef and owner of the French Laundry is Thomas Keller. The restaurant building dates from 1900, and is in the National Register of Historic Places.
The French Laundry is a perennial awardee in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World (having been named “Best Restaurant in the World” in 2003 and 2004), and since 2006, it has been awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide to San Francisco. It has also been favorably reviewed by The New York Times and called “the best restaurant in the world, period” by Anthony Bourdain.
History of the building
The building was built as a saloon in the 1900s by a Scottish stonesman for Pierre Guillaume. When a law was passed in 1906 prohibiting sale of alcohol within a mile of a veteran’s home, Guillaume sold the building.
In the 1920s, the building was owned by John Lande who used it as a French steam laundry, which is the origin of the restaurant’s name.
In 1978, the mayor of Yountville renovated the building into a restaurant. Don and Sally Schmitt owned the French Laundry for much of the 1980s, and the early 1990s. In 1994, Keller bought the restaurant.
In 2004 the restaurant installed a geothermal heating and air conditioning system.
This vegetable tasting menu was one of three menus available for Sunday December 4, 2005
There are two nine course prix fixe menus daily as well as several tasting menus. During the holiday season, the restaurant may offer special dishes. The most current menu prices their meals at $270 per person including gratuity for the base meal, not including additional supplements such as foie gras and duck.
The food is mainly French with contemporary American influences, giving rise to such unique specialties as Cuisse de grenouilles sur un bâton (frog’s legs on a stick).
Every day, the French Laundry serves two different nine-course tasting menus, none of which uses the same ingredient more than once.
Notable alumni of the French Laundry’s kitchen staff include Grant Achatz of Alinea, Eric Ziebold of CityZen, René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, Clay Miller of Trummer’s on Main, Ron Siegel of The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, California, Corey Lee of Benu and Duff Goldman of Food Network fame. Current Chef de Cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth won the Bocuse d’Or USA semi-finals in 2008, and represented the U.S. in the international finals in January 2009, placing sixth.
In February 2004, Thomas Keller opened the East Coast version of his Yountville restaurant, which he named Per Se. The kitchens of both restaurants are connected via a real-time video feed on a television screen.
Awards and accolades
- 2006–2011 Michelin Guide, Three Stars
- 2004–2006, 2008 Top 40 Restaurants in the US Andre Gayot Guide
- 2005–2008, “Best Restaurant in the Americas,” Restaurant magazine Top 50
- 1999–2009 Five-Star Award, Mobil Travel Guide
- 2003–2004 “Best Restaurant in the World,” Restaurant magazine Top 50
- 2003, “Outstanding Service Award,” James Beard Foundation
- 2002, Awarded the honor of World Master of Culinary Arts 2001, a 1st annual award given by Wedgwood
- 2001, Outstanding Wine Service Award, James Beard Foundation
- 2000, “Favorite Restaurant in the U.S.,” Food & Wine Restaurant Experts’ Poll
- 2000, Inducted into “Who’s Who in Food & Beverage,” James Beard Foundation
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