OK, a detailed report from the French Laundry.
First off, here is the menu
for the evening. I opted for the chef's tasting menu, with a small modification.
Amuse: We were served the usual gougeres, and a cone filled with a cream (the details of which escape me) and topped with minced raw salmon. Delightful!
First course: Oysters and pearls are a French Laundry staple. I love the richly-flavored savory sabayon, and the flavors of the caviar, tapioca, and oysters marry perfectly.
Second course: I asked for a substitute for this one, since I'm not a foie gras fan and beets aren't my favorite. Instead, I got s jardiniere de legumes de printemps from the tasting of vegetables menu. It tasted like a garden in spring.
Third course: Sturgeon en croute de pommes de terre. Everything about this dish was absolutely perfect, but I was most impressed with the texture of the fish. It was firm yet beautifully tender.
Fourth course: Sweet butter-poached maine lobster tail. To my surprise and delight, thin slices of grapes were a perfect complement for the rich lobster.
Fifth course: Devils' Gulch Ranch rabbit sirloin-- a medallion of bacon-wrapped rabbit in a heavenly sauce. My brain has forgotten what the ranch "croutons" were, but I think they were probably polenta.
Sixth course: Marcho Farm nature-fed veal. I'm generally not a big veal fan, but this was a delight. The sauce provided a perfect counter-balance.
Seventh course: Monte Enebro. A rich, complex goats milk cheese. I could eat this cheese all day and be happy.
Eighth course: Elderflower Sorbet. The grapefruit provided a sharp, bitter contrast to the sweetness of the elderflower. A moscato rounded it out quite nicely.
Ninth course: Marjolaine. This is one of those over-the-top complex, beautifully artistic desserts assembled from smears of sauces, delicate, swooping ribbons of chocolate, sculptures of rich creamy goodness, and a few sprinkles of pixie dust and magic. It defies my ability to write about it, but certainly satisfied my sweet tooth.
Other: the breads were all fabulous, of course, and the butters were soft and creamy. A couple of my companions ordered foie gras, and it was served with three different kinds of salt on the side. (I tried it, and can almost get past my general dislike of foie gras.)
Among the mignardises was a hazelnut chocolate that was indescribably good-- the filling was rich, but with an unexpectedly delicate crunch.
For wines, I had a couple of glasses of sparkling wine at the start of the meal, then skipped most of the rest. However, they had a Disznoko 6 puttonyos tokaji on the menu that I couldn't resist, and was entirely worthwhile. Botrytis wines aren't to everyone's liking, but I'm a big fan. This was an exceptionally fine expression.
All in all it was an exceptionally good meal. If I had any complaint it would be that the service was merely excellent, and not flawless-- this is the first time that I have ever seen a significant service misstep at the French Laundry, or any of Mr. Keller's other restaurants. It was corrected quickly and with grace, but I was still quite surprised. (One of my companions said at the start of the meal that she does not eat cilantro under any circumstances, and one of her dishes was served with a sprinkling of cilantro.)
I highly recommend the French Laundry to anyone who enjoys this particular type of food and eating.