Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mission: Secure a Reservation at The French Laundry

The French Laundry
Today I spent 2 hours on the phone, pressing redial some 300+ times, trying to secure a reservation at The French Laundry in Yountville, California. The French Laundry is on my list of restaurants to dine at on my Cross-Country, Amtrak journey taking place in September. Along the way I want to eat the best Pizza in Chicago, dine at the best restaurant in San Fransisco (whatever that is) see some wineries in Napa and go to TFL. That's it. So what's the problem? The problem is simple, The French Laundry is one of the most sought after restaurant reservations on Earth. It makes getting a reservation at Per Se and The Fat Duck look like a lovely stroll in the park. Google; how to get a reservation at The French Laundry and you will see article upon article, blog upon blog of secrets, tips, tricks and insider information. I'm not 10 years old, I don't want to cheat at Zelda (best video game ever), I just want to make a restaurant reservation. I don't understand why it takes an army of insiders to tell me how to do this.

While doing my research I found several options: 1. Call, call, call and then call again. I started almost exactly at 10am, West Coast time and had no luck, with over 300 calls made. Each time I tried I just got the annoying sound of a phone line which is eternally busy. 2. Go to Open Table at 11:59:56pm and have 3 Internet browsers open at the same time, which are all looking for a reservation date 2 months in the future and for a party of four. Hit the find a table button on each browser, a second before midnight and you're supposed to be guaranteed a reservation seeing as Open Table holds 2 tables for The French Laundry and no one could have gotten there before you. 3. Have an Amex Platinum Card? Call the Concierge and have them do the dirty work for you. They will assign someone to sit and press redial until they get a hold of an actual person. And apparently they have some clout with The French Laundry, but who knows. 4. Befriend Puff Daddy, or whatever the hell he's calling himself these days and appeal to his softer side and have his PR gal get you in.

I have tried option number one vigorously without success. I will continue until I either get a hold of them, or my hands give up. I'm guessing my hands will give up before I reach a live person. However, I also have an Amex Platinum Concierge working for me as well and I hope to hear back from them soon. If those methods don't work, I am going to set my alarm for 2:45am Eastern Time and try the Open Table method. I'm really hoping one of the above methods work, because I think P-Diddy might be even harder than The French Laundry to get a hold of. If that's possible.

My professional photography website: Taylor Young Photography


  1. I can't believe you know the George and Dragon in Speldhurst, England! I practically grew up in that place, and have been eating there regularly for about 25 years! (Sadly not so often these days, as I live in Chicago now). It was always a place my parents would take us to for special occasions meals, and in fact we had a big wedding party there last year! I applaud your most excellent taste!!

  2. Alastair,

    Thank you very much!

    Yes, the George and Dragon is a fantastic place.

    My wife and I also had a wedding party there last year. It was our pre-wedding dinner. Couldn't have been better.

    I'm coming to Chicago actually very soon. I'm in desperate need of pizza. Where should I go?


  3. Taylor
    Nice! I'm glad the G&D served you well! It's the 2nd oldest pub in Britain apparently, dating from 1212 if memory serves me correctly, though I'm sure plenty of pubs lay claim to that.
    If you want good pizza in Chicago then I highly recommend a place on the north side called Spacca Napoli (1769 W Sunnyside), it does the most authentic neapolitan pizzas in the city, and they do fantastic appetizers also, it's by far my favourite place.. I can't really recommend any places for the deep dish style because I don't really like it, but at SN you can't go wrong.
    I just got a French Laundry reservation for October, but I guess I just got lucky, it only took around 20 minutes to get through on the phone, I guess it's just the luck of the draw suppose.
    Also, if you ever find yourself in northern Spain, then try out Arzak in San Sebastian, it was probably one of the most imaginative and interesting meals I have had, and the mark up on the wines is much lower than in the US, always a help!
    Happy eating!

  4. Alastair,

    I'm incredibly jealous at how easy you got a reservation, my friend. Very well done. I am still trying to catch up on work time lost during my entire day of calling. :)

    Thanks for the recommendation in Chicago. I only have a few hours there but I'll try to make it to Spacca Napoli.