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Go Back   REVscene Automotive Forum > Vancouver LifeStyles (VLS) > Food & Fine Dining

Food & Fine Dining Hungry? Come on down to Wings - Fun, Food and Drinks.
Top Restaurants in town? Got a good recipe to share? Share culinary info or post up photos of your delicious dish. #revsceneVLS

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Old 08-01-2015, 12:16 AM   #1
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My Meal at the French Laundry

Recently I had the opportunity to go down to San Francisco for a little bit of a foodie trip.

The trip was planned after I successfully obtained a reservation at The French Laundry, I was lucky to secure at 6pm reservation on a Tuesday for a table of four. Now normally you are suppose to call exactly 2 month in advance to the day you want to dine and hope you get through in time, as there is only 1 girl on the other end answering the phone.

I unfortunately did not get my vacation dates confirmed until approx 7 weeks out from my vacation, so when I called my Amex Concierge team to book the reservation, they told me that they will be unlikely to secure a reservation for me.
3 days later, my concierge called me to inform me that he successfully got a 4-person reservation for TFL for July 14th at 6:00pm (I had given him a window of 4 days at any time to work with).

To avoid getting caught in traffic and being late for our reservation, we booked a hotel night at the Westin Verasa in Napa, our friends came from San Francisco, they left at 3pm and got into Yountville at around 5:40 (cutting it a bit close...traffic was horrible)



If it wasn't for GPS I would've driven right past this restaurant, managed to find a prime parking spot (my rental porsche) as I think we were the first dinner service for the evening.



Where fine dining in America began



The signature TFL Clothespin



First of the amuse bouche was 4 cheese balls filled with Gruyere cheese



Followed up by Thomas Keller's signature Salmon Cornets



Everyone at the table went for the famous "Oyster and Pearl" dish featuring "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar
All of us agreed that this was one of the most memorable dish.

The other option available was the "Royal Ossetra Caviar" for $75 Supplement which nobody at the table went for.



The next dish was the Summer Melon Salad
I cannot comment on this as I ordered the Duck Foie Gras instead


My "Slow Poached Elevages Perigord Moulard Duck Foie Gras"


My 6 choices of salt for my foie gras, it was served with fresh brioche, a very rich and tasty experience though I wasn't able to really distinguish the difference between all the salts.

Fresh bread was served next from the Bouchon bakery, I did take any photos of the bread but I did get a picture of one of the butter choices (salted and unsalted butter was the two options)


But just look at that presentation...for something a simple as butter



Next is the Sauteed Fillet of Gulf Coast Cobia, very sweet and succulent fish...and look at that food to plate ratio...you know you are at a fancy restaurant when..



Next was the "Sweet butter poached maine lobster", it was absolutely the best lobster I've ever had, perfectly cooked, so sweet and not even the slightest overcooked



One of my friend was not a fan of lobsters, so the chef was able to offer an alaskan king crab dish instead.



Next up was the "Wolfe Ranch White Quail" the quail was very well cooked, meat was tender and packed with flavor while the skin was nice and crispy with no fat.

One of my friends splurged for the "Chicken and Dumplings" Dish served with shave Australian Black Winter Truffles



Our server (1 of 4), Andrew, pouring the Double Chicken "Bouillon" into the bowl



Then came out the truffles, the moment the box was opened, the entire upstairs dining area was filled with the aroma of truffles, the smell in it self was worth the $100 supplement.

via Imgflip GIF Maker

As you can see, they are very generous with the truffles

After we had the main meat dish, we had a choice of a nature fed veal or a japanese wagyu ($100 supplement), 2 of my friends ordered the wagyu, while another ordered the veal



Now I however, really wanted to try their lamb (was I am a huge lamb lover), so the chef was able to make me a lamb dish, the lamb was perfectly cooked and was great...

until...my friend offered me a bite of the wagyu



wow...the best wagyu that I had ever tasted ( comparing to Black and Blue, Octopus Garden and a few other establishment) , really wished I had spent the extra $100....



Next was a Andant Dairy "Acapella" essentially a goat cheese mixture on top of a short bread with figs and fennel....this honestly wasnt my favorite as I am not a huge fan of goat cheese.



The first (of many desserts)



All I remember from this was the popcorn ice cream



This dessert had the texture of creme brule



Macarons,chocolate covered macadamia nuts, super fresh doughnut holes and a espresso semi freddo



we were offered our choice of chocolate truffles, we could take as many as we wanted, however we took 2-3 each only as to try to appear "classy" (the asian in me wanted to take the whole box for later)



after dinner we were offered a kitchen tour, now the French Laundry kitchen is currently under renovation and they are working out of a temporary kitchen made from 4 seacans....but the kitchen is spotless, no yelling/screaming (this definitely is not a gordon ramsey kitchen)



one of the original 3-michelin star restaurants in the USA



A live feed of per se

the highlight of the night was meeting thomas keller in person, Chef keller asked us where we were from and how we enjoyed our meal. He asked if we were going to try Meadowood, Benu or Saison (the other 3-michelin star resturants in the area) while we are in town. We shook hands and took a photo, he also signed our copy of the menu which we got to keep.

All of us had to drive, so none of us went for the wine pairing option, but 1 friend and I did split a half bottle of wine (which was $150 for a half bottle...it was the second cheapest on the wine list...usually how I order wines at fancy restaurants lol)

The total meal came just shy of $2000, the gratutity was included but we felt inclined to tip an extra 15%.

the service level was absolutely amazing, it was not pretentious or stuffy (unlike say Canoe in Toronto, or Black and Blue in Vancouver), in fact the whole idea was to making the meal feel like you are dining at someone's house. We dined at the upstairs dining area, which consisted of 2 4-tops, 1 6 top, and 1 2-top tables, and there was total of about 8 or 9 staff looking after the 4 tables upstairs.

Hard to say if the food alone was "worth it", but the overall experience definitely was, $500 per person (can be done for less if you dont got for the substitutions and any wine) is only a little more than good seats at the cirque show in vegas or a broadway show in NY. for a 3 hour culinary "experience", I think its well worth the price.

Eating at TFL and meeting Chef keller is one item off my bucket list. As a frequent visitor of Chicago, the next 3-michelin star restaurant that I want to try is Alinea by chef Grant Achatz, and also Eleven Madison Park by Chef Daniel Humm. However my next foodie trip will bring me to Japan, and I am already working with my concierge to book some michelin resturants to try, however so far I'm not having much success in getting reservations.
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Old 08-01-2015, 12:28 AM   #2
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And I'm just sitting here putting bacon in my Kraft dinner
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Old 08-01-2015, 12:28 AM   #3
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I dont know about your French meal, but dat Porsche
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Old 08-01-2015, 12:47 AM   #4
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French Laundry is on my bucket list. That looks amazing!
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Old 08-01-2015, 03:25 AM   #5
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i am so jealous.
one day!!
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:11 AM   #6
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eleven Madison park is my absolute favourite restaurant. I haven't tried tfl yet, but it looks pretty good.

emp is definitely accessible 3 star dining -- not stuffy at all. it's 3* for our generation. and yes, meeting chef Daniel hum and getting him to sign his book was also a highlight when I went!

after being to a 3 star restaurant, I haven't eaten 'fine dining' in Vancouver again. it's nowhere near the same category.
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:27 AM   #7
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eleven Madison park is my absolute favourite restaurant. I haven't tried tfl yet, but it looks pretty good.

emp is definitely accessible 3 star dining -- not stuffy at all. it's 3* for our generation. and yes, meeting chef Daniel hum and getting him to sign his book was also a highlight when I went!

after being to a 3 star restaurant, I haven't eaten 'fine dining' in Vancouver again. it's nowhere near the same category.
Yea EMP is ranked the best resturant in America on the world's top 50 list, so that's definitely something I want to try. A new York foodie trip is definitely being planned at some point next year, Masa and nakazawa are also on my list to try if I'm in NY. However my view on Japanese food might change after my upcoming trip to Japan in October.

I totally agree on vancouver resturants not stacking up, a year ago I spent $600 for 2 at Hawksworth.... At the time I felt it was very good, but after eating at French Laundry, it is just not even close to being in the same caliber.

I'm curious to see if Michelin was to come to vancouver would any of our restaurants hit a 1 or 2 star.
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Old 08-01-2015, 11:18 AM   #8
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omg I felt the same about hawksworth -- at the time I thought it was okay. there were some things that I didn't like but overall thought it was good.

now I can't go back because comparing It back to back, it's downright bad. when I was in NY I also went to Daniel (boulud) which is 2*, and I didn't care for it. too old school. Got to talk to DB as well there (didn't have anything for him to sign though) but the entire atmosphere didn't sit well with me. Food was great though.
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Old 08-01-2015, 12:16 PM   #9
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I am beyond jealous of you right now...
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Old 08-01-2015, 12:36 PM   #10
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omg I felt the same about hawksworth -- at the time I thought it was okay. there were some things that I didn't like but overall thought it was good.

now I can't go back because comparing It back to back, it's downright bad. when I was in NY I also went to Daniel (boulud) which is 2*, and I didn't care for it. too old school. Got to talk to DB as well there (didn't have anything for him to sign though) but the entire atmosphere didn't sit well with me. Food was great though.
Yea totally understand, higher end resturants in new York tend to have that stuffy atmosphere, more for business crowd rather than foodies. That being said, I would still love to dine at Daniel, and meet DB himself.

I'm going to be back in San Francisco soon for a layover, I'm trying to get a reservation for State Bird Provision right now but that seems to be the hardest reservation to get.... So my friends and I have decided to make a reservation at Saison as back up lol.

I think I'm going to only eat HK Cafe, Chinese food, and other cheap food in vancouver and save the ultra fine dining to when I'm traveling abroad.

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Old 08-01-2015, 01:32 PM   #11
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^^ agree completely. Vancouver does hk café, Chinese, and other Asian REALLY well in my opinion. When I compared the Asian in NY and san fran, it totally didn't compare -- we have it way better! I'm actually considering booking a vacation JUST around going to EMP again -- it was that good.

one day i'll write a blog post about my EMP meal -- what made it that much more special was that we got invited to the kitchen, watched them work, and had a cocktail made there on the spot (molecular gastronomy style!)
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Old 08-01-2015, 01:57 PM   #12
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And I'm just sitting here putting bacon in my Kraft dinner
Lol don't feel bad, I've been on a instant noodle and spam diet since I got back from the trip lol... The shitty exchange rate made the trip extra expensive.
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Old 08-01-2015, 03:03 PM   #13
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Come back from foodie trip and shitty exchange........ gong jai mein. lol
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Old 08-02-2015, 04:17 AM   #14
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Here you go skiipi, this weeks blog post is for you.

Eleven Madison Park [Restaurant] | Jax & cs
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Old 08-02-2015, 09:27 AM   #15
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Here you go skiipi, this weeks blog post is for you.

Eleven Madison Park [Restaurant] | Jax & cs
Wow great write up!

Definitely seems like an amazing experience.
For sure a restaurant that u want to try!
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Old 08-02-2015, 12:06 PM   #16
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these aren't Michelin star restaurants, but they are top-chef winners. may be interested in our experience at them:

ink. [Restaurant] | Jax & cs - Michael Voltaggio


Juniper & Ivy vs Searsucker | Jax & cs Richard Blais, Brian Malarkey
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Old 08-02-2015, 12:39 PM   #17
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is it me or are there no pix in this thread?

edit : i can see them on chrome, but can't on firefox... any reason why this is?
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Old 08-03-2015, 02:23 PM   #18
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Skiipi, i couldnt land a reso for state bird either, i just walked in and put my name down came back about two hours later lol. Tbh, i thought their new resto Progress was better.
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Old 08-03-2015, 03:15 PM   #19
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Skiipi, i couldnt land a reso for state bird either, i just walked in and put my name down came back about two hours later lol. Tbh, i thought their new resto Progress was better.
So state bird didn't live up to the hype?
Maybe I'll just stick so saison then.


So far none of the 3 michelin star restaurants in Japan accepts reservation from amex concierge... And I'm not staying in any fancy hotels that have a good concierge team.... So looks like I may not be successful in hitting many 3 star restaurants in Japan.
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Old 08-03-2015, 03:33 PM   #20
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Expresso is a liar. All he did was eat at In & Out Burger @ Fisherman's Wharf and told me it was better than any 3 Star Michelin experience.
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Old 08-03-2015, 04:11 PM   #21
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Thank you very much for sharing a real world experience of the restaurant. Keller is truly an inspiration with his food, and more importantly his attitude towards the kitchen environment. His food is some of my favourite as he treads the line between experimenting, and simply allowing ingredients to speak for themselves. Reading the french laundry cookbook and fucking around at home taught me more than my culinary textbooks ever could, because they go so far beyond the basic cooking principles. TFL teaches perfection.
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Old 08-03-2015, 04:29 PM   #22
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So state bird didn't live up to the hype?
Maybe I'll just stick so saison then.

So far none of the 3 michelin star restaurants in Japan accepts reservation from amex concierge... And I'm not staying in any fancy hotels that have a good concierge team.... So looks like I may not be successful in hitting many 3 star restaurants in Japan.
You don't need a fancy hotel. Try the metropolitan hotel in Ikebukoro. Very reasonable rates and the concierge is good. They got me Mitzutani, Sawada and Takazawa.

I'd be hesitant to go to a NY restaurant for sushi with all the other choices there.
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Old 08-03-2015, 04:47 PM   #23
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Thanks for this! I'm definitely going try and get reservations the next time my wife joins me on my trips to SF. Most likely going to be in the new year though
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Old 08-03-2015, 05:28 PM   #24
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You don't need a fancy hotel. Try the metropolitan hotel in Ikebukoro. Very reasonable rates and the concierge is good. They got me Mitzutani, Sawada and Takazawa.

I'd be hesitant to go to a NY restaurant for sushi with all the other choices there.
Yea I'm booking all my hotels in Japan on my Spg points, so I'm staying at the Sheraton Miyako Tokyo as well as the Sheraton Miyako Osaka... Already in contact with their concierge, except they don't sound too confident... They keep saying how it's really hard and they are often not successful.

I'm trying to get reso at Sushi Saito and yoshitake for sushi, as well as Esaki for traditional Japanese for Tokyo. And also trying to get reso at Fujiya 1935 in Osaka and Kichisen in Kyoto.

So far the only resturant that amex was able to get me a reservation at was lunch at Shunsaiten (2 Michelin star tempura) in Osaka.
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Old 08-03-2015, 05:28 PM   #25
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Expresso is a liar. All he did was eat at In & Out Burger @ Fisherman's Wharf and told me it was better than any 3 Star Michelin experience.
Lol in n out was my first stop in San Francisco as well.
Cant skip that when you are in Cali.
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