In April I tried my best to reserve The French Laundry in Yountville, CA using the basic bitch method but no luck in getting a reservation. In a world of Open Table and SELECT Card, I never had the need to use the AmEx concierge. With the success in getting Hamilton tickets. I thought this could be another miracle that can be done. Sure enough, I called 1-800-525-3355, gave my travel dates, and they got back to me in 2 days with a reservation and two tickets to The French Laundry (all $620 charged to the AmEx Platinum of course). Now this would of been more than adequate, but the best part came when we got there.
Strolling the grounds was nice, got to meet our dinner for the night both in two leg form and plant form. We checked in brought right to our seats. The two 9 course Chef Tasting menus were prepaid, but we had to decide on what supplements to add for the night. I added the Royal Kaluga caviar at $60 x 2 and the Foie Gras at $30 x 2 as well as a bottle of Gewürztraminer at $75. What seemed awesome was the Truffle Macaroni and Cheese with Australian Black Winter truffles at an astounding $125 supplement, but for that price I passed.
We enjoyed the 3 hour show of dinner when suddenly they brought out the truffles and the truffle plane. I had thought they messed up our order when the waitress came out and declared: “The chef felt that it it would be a shame of we didn’t have a tasting of the truffles”. Before I could even speak, they brought out the Mac’n Cheese, and shaved about 2 ounces of black imported truffles on top. It was like Disneyland for adults, the dish that I had so diligently denied myself of came out in front of us. The host came by and assured me it was compliments of the chef along with two glasses of paired Italian wine!
The complementary stuff didn’t stop there, 3 dishes later we got to dessert, we ordered coffee and it was all inclusive in the price. When the bill came the waitress informed us our bottle of wine had been comped as well! I ended up with a tab of $200 to cover the foie gras supplement as well as the caviar only. We had the $250 truffles, $75 wine and two glasses $40 of paired wine comped for our meal ($365 waived)! Also I paid the $620 months ago for the meal so it kind of disconnected the total cost which is what Dr. Elizabeth Dunn suggest to maximize happiness.
But wait… there’s more! Most people who sat at the same time as us retried into the courtyard, but the host insisted that we both come meet the chef. He brought us back to meet the kitchen staff as well as the chef (not Chef Keller)! I thought it was part of the normal experience, but I noticed that no one else had gotten the invitation. Conversations with the chef was nice, mostly about the Pebble Beach event coming up, as well as the use of sous vide in the dishes. They showed the live uplink to Per Se that synchronizes the two restaurants as well as the various stations. Overall pretty neat, like a flag officer strolling though spaces, just to see an impressive operation back there.
On our way out we were given shortbread tins as well as the menu and were sent on our way to hang out in the grounds. Now this is when things get weird, I was approached by the other diners that were asking how we got to go back to the kitchen like it was some big deal. They must of seen us go back there through the observation windows, and they were asking about what we talked about. I thought about trying to pass as a thin David Chang , but passed it off as no big deal.
People were genuinely thinking I had anything to do with the invite to the back, I’m sure if you asked politely anyone could go back there. However the host insisted and asked us to tour the back. Also it turned out the free wine and truffles seem to not be the universal experience with the other diners. I can only conclude that somehow making the reservation thought the AmEx concierge got us some sort of VIP experience, or it’s because I’m just a super nice guy.
I am glad to be the datapoint here, I am willing to do an experiment where I book on the website and the concierge for the same time and menu. I need to see if the experience is any different depending on booking source. Any of you readers out there willing to be the control?