10 Things I Like About The French Laundry Pop Up…
I like… the fact that after 400+ calls and no reservation secured I was invited by this very kind gentleman to join him at his table!
I like... the fact that not only fresh produce but also an exclusive gift shop (ahem!) were flown directly from California for this 10 day pop up.
I like… it even more that the loveliest @watermelonchang was there to make me feel less nervous in a room full of wealthy diners cuff-linked and pearled.
I like… the ‘finesse’ that went into my dishes and the fact that Thomas Keller’s innovations would suit both small and large portions. Inventive, yet comforting!
I like... well.. many dishes. The “Chowder” was particularly scrumptious, the sweetcorn powder magical, and I got to mutilate the most dainty piece of sturgeon. I loved the fact that Keller mastered the waterbath. His “Calotte de Boeuf” oozed the most robust fragrance but was so tender I barely needed my teeth to chew. I also had a mouthful of orgasm while finishing up the “S’Mores”. It felt naughty and got me ooouuuuuhhhhhh and aaaahhhhhhh. Or, maybe it was just the alcohol effect?
I like… the fact that our table was specially treated to some “off-menu” dishes. The “Egg Custard, Chive Crisp” was this delectably curd-y Shawanmushi ventilating pungent white and black truffle aroma.
I like…the fact that at the end of the meal I got to meet THE CHEF. And after many glasses of wine, I could afford behaving like a tourist and asked for a photo.
I like… very much the fact that this meal count towards my Harrods Reward Card, meaning at the end of this year I would get a monumental sum of £5 back from the £250 I paid. Fingers crossed I didn’t miscalculate.
I like… (last but not least) the goodie bag where lay a gargantuan “Cake and Jam”. Pixie (and The Other Bib) instinctively jumped right at it!!!!!
what did I not like at The French Laundry Pop Up?
Despite the meal I deemed best I’ve ever had in the UK, I felt the £250 sans wine and service charge was not justifiable. I did not love my “Beets and Leeks” as the dish was so domineeringly sweet it took a while for the taste of the lobster to shine through. Also, the limitation of a pop up – a rather fake setting and an overcrowded room – destroyed the synergy between food and the story behind it. And as only about half the space of the Georgian Restaurant was used for the dining room, they surely could make the dining room bigger and the tables more spaced out. Also the Front of House seemed to be trained to politely whisper rather than recite dishes with pride, resulting in half of our table could not hear what was being served. (Apart from this, they were a team of great efficiency bringing us fresh napkins every time we popped into the loo!!).
All this aside, my meal at The French Laundry was f**king marvellous. It was not Mugaritz or Noma, but there was showmanship, quality and finesse moulding into every single dish. Rarely did I see any ingredient repeated on a plate. Techniques were varied and exciting. Flavours were comforting but retained innovative sparks. And, the whole tasting menu was just utterly seamless. This was the meal for everyone (who could spare £250 or more), the meal that (if you didn’t take the price value into account) you cannot be disappointed by.
And for those not having made it to Harrods, I think a trip to California will make it all worthwhile…
You may find the detail here: www.frenchlaundry.com
(The H/H rating for Harrods is 9/10).