Friday, July 31, 2009

The French Laundry: Reservation Secured, Sir.

Yesterday, I made almost 400 phone calls to The French Laundry. That nearly impossible to get into restaurant in Northern California. I started at 10am West Coast time and called until 2:30pm West Coast time, off and on, with no luck. My thumbs are actually sore today. I've never had sore thumbs from using my phone, this is a first. I gave up because I had a meeting and the monotony was driving me crazy. I just couldn't handle that insane busy signal anymore. Luckily, I remembered that I had asked the Amex Platinum Concierge to call for me a few weeks back. So, I decided to let them take over the mind numbingly, tedious job of pressing redial. At 5:45pm I decided to call them to check on their progress. I had no hopes that they would have any more success than I had. In fact, I was sure they would just call the same number I was and keep redialing until the end of the day. When I would no doubt, get an email telling me of their failure. But that was not the case.

The Concierge told me that Holly (the Concierge that deals with The French Laundry) had managed to book me a reservation for three people on September 29th at 5:45pm. SUCCESS! It was really that simple. I gave them the times I could go and they did all the dirty work for me. The Concierge also told me that they dial different phone numbers than the one's listed on The French Laundry's website. So after an entire day wasted on the phone and researching blogs and articles about how to book a reservation, all it came down to was dialing the Amex Platinum Concierge. For this service, the high fees are more than justified.

My interest however, was now piqued and I wanted to try the other methods I had learned about throughout the day. I set my alarm to wake me up this morning at 2:50am East Coast time and before that I spent some time setting up Open Table on three different windows in Firefox. They were all set for October 1st (exactly 2 months from now) at 7:30pm for a party of four. Even though I didn't have four, I had three. I read that Open Table only has tables of four reserved for The French Laundry, so that's what I used.

At 2:50am sharp, my iPhone started playing Marimba and a slumped over my bed, picked up my laptop and waited until 2:56am to start rotating between the three browser windows, clicking the "Find a Table" button and then watching the little red and white circles rotate back and forth, while it searched for an Open Table. I did this several times before 3am and each time I was told that my dates were too far in advance. I knew this would happen and I expected to see this a few times until the clock hit 3am exactly. However, I was not prepared for that inexcusable sentence, which came up as 3am flashed brightly on my Mac, "There are no reservations currently available for the day you have requested." How is this possible? Were there hundreds of people doing the exact same thing as me? It appears so.

In any event, I have my reservation and I am a happy guy. Now it's time to stare at the menu online with longing and watch the inevitable drool as it slowly dribbles down my lips and slaps onto my keyboard. Oh, the life of a foodie. It's a silly existence, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

My professional photography website: Taylor Young Photography


  1. Louie wold me that you landed a reservation at French Laundry and I am so jealous!!! I would like to go there and Chez Panisse when I am back in NorCal. Good to hear your advice on how to try to secure a reservation!

    Have a great time during your upcoming travels. The next time you are in DC you should give me a buzz.


  2. Veronica,

    Yes, very exciting. I'll post all the glorious details on my blog in October.

    I will definitely come and see you in DC. The wife and I are making a list of restaurants to go to now.


  3. Oh, the existence, trials and tribulations of a dedicated foodie. How sweet it is!

  4. i'm going through the exact same thing this week -- trying to get a reservation for mid-october. so far i've only tried open table (FAIL, of course), and my fiance is in charge of calling them today. your blog has given me hope, though, as i have my visa signature concierge on the task as well. fingers crossed! enjoy your meal next month!

  5. Kim,

    I have no doubt that your Visa Signature Concierge will come through. They will have alternative numbers to call I would think.

    Thank you! Please check back in Oct for a review... with photos and possibly even a video. If I can get away with it. :)

    Best of luck.


  6. French laundry -Reservation seats available in my table of 4 - 11.30AM lunch 10/31/2009 Sat.??