As I mentioned before, I've never even considered eating at a three-star (Michelin) restaurant before. Mostly due to cost, but also because I'm too lazy to work that hard for reservations and there's that fact that I'm such a slob, I'd be sure to spill and embarrass myself. Luckily for me, my friend had AmEx on her side for the reservations and I wore solid black to keep the spills from showing too considerably.
The other reason could also be that there are only 5 restaurants in the US that have a three-star designation and it's been oh about a million years since I've been out of the country further than Canada or Mexico.
If you're interested, here are the five current (2008) as stolen from 3 star restaurants:
- Le Bernardin, New York
- Joel Robuchon, Las Vegas
- Jean Georges, New York
- Per Se, New York
- French Laundry, Yountville
Hmm. Maybe I can talk my sister into going to Robuchon before they depart Vegas!
ANYWAY. Food, yes. We flew down to San Francisco on Friday on one of the brand spanking new Virgin flights. First class, woo hoo! Which, by the way, I'm totally ruined now. No, cramped shitty seats for me anymore! No more flights without radio, seat-to-seat IM, actual meals and unlimited beverages. Ooops. Drifting again.
Anyway, anyway! So we flew down Friday at noon, picked up our dinner companions (Artur and Simon), and drove up to Napa. Arrived about 15 minutes prior to our 6 p.m. reservations. I was by far the MOST excited person in the car, but I think I held it together pretty well. We had the option to choose between a vegetarian and the chef's tasting menus. Of course, I went omnivore.
I think I still need some time to digest (har-har) my thoughts about the experience, so this is not a review at all, but merely a retelling of what we had. My meal consisted of:
Two amuse bouche = a puff pastry bite filled with Gruyere cheese, and a smoked salmon and creme fraiche "cone."
The nine official courses:
- Oysters and Pearls
oysters and caviar served on warm savory pearl tapioca custard
- A artichoke and frisse salad
If I remember correctly, the vegetables are from the restaurants garden. I chose this over the fois gras because I wanted to be able to eat all nine courses. Of course, I did try to fois gras, since Simon was nice and shared.
- Blue tuna sashimi
From Hawaii. The other option was a seared fish, whose type I can't remember. Again, I chose the lighter option. The sashimi was so light and delicate, I was glad I went that direction.
- Lobster tail poached in butter with leeks and beets
- Veal tongue
I ordered this instead of the rabbit because I have never had occasion to eat veal tongue before and thought this was probably the best place to start.
- Cheese course
was a Wisconsin cheddar
- A chocolate trio
Three kinds of chocolate with a sorbet as opposed to the granny smith apple creme with mustard sorbet
In addition, during the meal we had three bread "servings" sourced from the nearby companion bakery, Bouchon. We also had additional mignettes: creme brulee, roasted macadamia nuts, and truffles. And went home with shortbread and two huge chocolate Easter eggs.
We also shared a half-bottle of Riesling, Simon and I had a glass of a different white wine that I can't remember the name of and the table shared a half-bottle of this amazing red wine that again I don't remember the name of. The sommelier totally reminded me of a younger version of the Merovingian and I wanted to stuff him (and all his wonderful bottles of wine) in the trunk and take him home with me.
The price? It wasn't cheap, but the meal absolutely did not suck. The service was mostly amazing - even though we had some quibbles with one of the servers who kept reaching over Simon. I mean, totally a quibble, but the whole point of three-star restaurants is not to have any quibbles, right?
As a side note, I did NOT spill on myself and was inordinately proud.