Yountville, California, is in the heart of Napa County. The town’s name is derived from the name of early pioneer George Calvert Yount. Yount was considered responsible for establishing the first vineyard in the Napa Valley.
Located in the middle of the Napa Valley wine growing region, Yountville is also the home of the French Laundry, a gourmet restaurant owned by chef Thomas Keller, with a three star rating from the Michelin Guide. Keller also owns another restaurant in Yountville, Ad Hoc. We stopped by and visited The French Laundry — enjoy our photo tour! (Note, we also took a quick snap of Keller’s skyblue BMW.)
The French Laundry is a perennial awardee in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World (having been named “Best Restaurant in the World” in 2003 and 2004), and since 2006, it has been awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide to San Francisco. It has also been favorably reviewed by The New York Times and called “the best restaurant in the world, period” by Anthony Bourdain (Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episode “Las Vegas,” 2005).
The building was built as a saloon in the 1900s by a Scottish stonesman for Pierre Guillaume. When a law was passed in 1906 prohibiting sale of alcohol within a mile of a veteran’s home, Guillaume sold the building.
In the 1920s, the building was owned by John Lande who used it as a French steam laundry, which is the origin of the restaurant’s name.
In 1978, the mayor of Yountville renovated the building into a restaurant. Don and Sally Schmitt owned the French Laundry for much of the 1980s, and the early 1990s. In 1994, Keller bought the restaurant.
There are two nine course prix fixe menus daily as well as several tasting menus. During the holiday season, the restaurant may offer special dishes.
The food is mainly French with contemporary American influences, giving rise to such unique specialties as Cuisse de grenouilles sur un bâton (frog’s legs on a stick).
Every day, the French Laundry serves two different nine course tasting-menus, none of which uses the same ingredient more than once.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599