Napa Valley’s famous three-Michelin-starred restaurant, The French Laundry, mysteriously closed its doors just before Christmas to being a lengthy renovation process. The old kitchen has already been completely demolished, and the staff have been temporarily employed at a new pop-up called Ad Lib at the Silverado Resort & Spa.
Chef and Restauranteur, Thomas Keller, told Inside Scoop that The French Laundry will finally re-open on April 7, but with a temporary shipping container kitchen, which will keep the restaurant running until the massive renovations are complete. Ad Lib will continue to operate through October to accommodate Silverado’s Frys.com golf tournament. Keller has recruited Chef Michael Sandoval, formerly of Bouchon, to take over at Ad Lib once The French Laundry returns.
According to their website, The French Laundry’s historic building was constructed by a Scottish stonemason in 1900 and originally used as a saloon. Later it was converted into a residence, and then a French steam laundry in the 1920s (hence the restaurant’s name). In 1978, Mayor Don Schmitt renovated the building into a restaurant with the help of his wife, Sally. Keller discovered the space in the early 1990s and purchased it in 1994.
The much-celebrated French restaurant with tasting menus starting at $295 a head received the James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Restaurant Award” in 2006, and Keller was named “Outstanding Restauranteur” in 2007. The French Laundry has boasted three Michelin stars six years in a row, making Keller the only American-born chef to own two three-Michelin starred restaurants.
The menu is described as “classic French cuisine with the finest quality ingredients” on the restaurant’s website. Two tasting menus are offered per day: a nine-course chef’s menu followed by a vegetable menu. The website claims that “no single ingredient is ever repeated throughout the meal.” The final chef’s menu before the renovation listed courses such as “Carnaroli Risotto Biologico: parmigiana reggiano mousse, browned butter and shaved white truffles from Alba;” and “Sauteed Fillet of Pacific Yellowtail: glazed petite turnips, Asian pear puree, garden yuzu and matsutake mushroom bouillon.”
Reservations for The French Laundry’s opening can now be made on OpenTable, but very few are still available. Those wishing to reserve one of the most coveted tables in the San Francisco area must provide a credit card number. Keller has promised a new ticketing system similar to that of Lazy Bear for future reservations, but the system has yet to be put in place.