Remember when I wrote about scheming to eat as many oysters as possible during our trip to the Bay Area?
Well, the oysters were definitely a priority. But making it to The French Laundry, Bouchon or ad hoc - any one of the three restaurants owned by one of the best chefs alive today - was actually the very first thing we began talking about. (Aside from, of course, attending the wedding and meeting Mike's amazing, fun group of grad school friends.)
I became an instant fan of Thomas Keller after reading The Soul of a Chef (thanks to Jodi and our Austin food lover's book club). I have dreamt of dining at The French Laundry and, in fact, for my birthday in 2009, I treated myself to a copy of the book inspired by the renowned Yountville restaurant.
This summer, we honored the man with a dinner inspired by three of his books.
So when we bought our tickets and planned our Napa weekend, we knew a Keller restaurant would be on the menu. What we didn't know was that he'd show up to his own restaurant, sit right behind us and effectively ruin my meal.
I could not possibly eat with Thomas Keller eight feet away from me. Instead, I spent the first half of our lunch freaking out because he was so close, another two minutes actually speaking to the man, and then the rest of our lunch hour freaking out because I spoke to him.
It was impossible to enjoy my food, though I'm quite sure it was tasty. My favorite dish was our appetizer, a caramelized onion tart on the most fabulous flat bread. (It is no coincidence that the dish I enjoyed most arrived before Keller came in to the restaurant.)
We admittedly have some regrets about 'ordering wrong' -- we chose safe dishes, when we should have had offal for lunch. I chose mussels and the lobster bisque, Mike had an open-faced tuna sandwich with fries. There were more adventurous, Keller-branded options, in retrospect.
Still, I wouldn't have noticed if they'd put a BK broiler on my plate. Thomas Keller probably would have ruined that, too.