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Date: July 21, 2005
Location: 2225 Hurley Way, Sacramento
Corkage: $25/bottle
Cost: $125/person ($160 including t&t)
Phone: 916.568.7171

We've been trying to get a group together to visit Kitchen for a while. Between everyone's schedule and the restaurant's availability, took a while to make it happen.

As mentioned in the TN thread, here are the folks in attendance. DJ Hombre, ttepper, Mr. & Mrs. winebrat, Dom'n'Vin'sDad, Tastebuddy, CHICO, Randy Cunningham, stealthman_1 and friends were in attendance. A nice table of 12.

Kitchen offers a five+ course Demonstration Dinner, one seating per night. Expect to spend about four hours on this culinary adventure once you step in the door.

I've now been to this restaurant four times, however, a first without any member of the gusbo family, so it did feel kind of strange for about two seconds. Wink

Wine service is great, as many decanters and Riedel stems as you wish. For some reason, decanters and stems usually piles up on our table, not sure why. Razz

This IS a culinary experience. If you live within driving distance, you have to make a point to go. If you are flying to visit the wine country, route your flight to Sacramento Airport (SMF). Just be sure to get the reservation in advance. Weekend reservations typically fills up at least two month out. On week nights, good idea to give it at least a month ahead.

Dinner starts with a live comedy introduction of the night's dinner menu, with guest appearance of Joe Lobster and Sara Halibut. First and second course are served followed by a raw bar break on the patio, half shells, sashimi, sushi...etc. Three more courses to be brought up to complete the evening.

Unlike any other prix-fixe menu, you can ask for a second or third seving of any item. Few of us had another serving of the Char Grilles Vietnamese Prawn, some others had another serving of the meat course. Matter of fact, the first time I visited the Kitchen, mjneal had five servings of Kobe Beef Taco.

Although there are no choices on the dinner menu, they will accommodate all request as long as they have the ingridients in the kitchen. For example, a plate of fresh cut fruits was brought up to Tastebuddy without being asked just due to a passing conversation during dinner.

Corkage at $25 here is worth the wine service, although I don't remember being charged that during any of my visits. Most if not all of the wait-staff are wine knowledgeable, which also add to the dining experience. When I visit, always make a habit of offering the staff a taste of anything we have on the table.

Now, here is the menu for the evening.

Vacationing Maine Lobster in Puff Pastry with Fresh Porcini and Chantrelle Mushrooms, a Brunoise of French Foie Gras, Baby Carrot, and Potato with a Slow Braised Natural Duck Jus

A Soup of Hiedi's First Season Organic Heirloom Tomatoes, Sweet Dungeness Crab 'Mojito Style', Virgin Olive Oil Infused Oven Dried Bread and 'Roof Top' Tomato Salsa

Raw Bar on the Patio Break

Local Halibut with Rock Shrimp Mousse stuffed Squash Blossoms and Yellowfin Tuna 'Misto', Small Capers, Parsley and a Preserved Lemon-Kumquat Butter with Baby Dill, Char Grilled Vietnamese Prawn

Morgan Ranch 'Kobe Style' Beef Tenderloin and Thyme Scented Baby Chicken with Shaved Potatoes Infused with Real Parmesan and French Summer Truffles

Organic Berry Pot Pie, Homemade Ice Cream and Sharffenberger Bittersweet Chocolate
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Instead of giving the 1-10 scoring range, I will rank the three restaurants top to bottom accordingly in categories below with explanation.

Food Quality
1. French Laundry
2. La Toque
3. the Kitchen
I've only been to French Laundry once, the one time I went, I had the best oyster, lobster, rabbit and red snapper I've ever had in my life. One thing to note here, I DO NOT care for all three restaurant's final meat course much, typically some cut of steak.

Food Presentation
1. French Laundry
T2. La Toque
T2. the Kitchen
At the top level, presentation differences are very little, French Laundry is just a very small notch better.

Decor & Atmosphere
1. the Kitchen
2. La Toque
3. French Laundry
Kitchen is just fun and lively, so that's why I put them on top. La Toque is a bit more formal, but still presents a lively atmosphere with music in the background. French Laundry is just stiff and cold.

General Service
1. the Kitchen
2. La Toque
3. French Laundry
The margin here between the Kitchen and La Toque is very close. Kitchen gets the edge because we know the staff and the staff knows us. Very little front the house staff turnover since my first visit, which was about 18 month ago. French Laundry is a distant third here, very mechanical.

Wine Service
T1. the Kitchen
T1. La Toque
3. French Laundry
French Laundry gets third again for the same reason above. La Toque has better stems vs. the Kitchen, Vinum Extreme vs. Vinum, but not enough to warrant a ranking difference.

Wine List - Depth
1. French Laundry
2. La Toque
3. the Kitchen
This is not a knock on the depth of Kitchen's list, just that they chose to focus solely on California wine with a few sprinkled selections from elsewhere.

Wine List - Pricing
1. the Kitchen
2. La Toque
3. French Laundry
Kitchen blows the other two out the water here. Most bottling are release price plus corkage except for the hightly thought after selections and cults, which are still priced belowed secondary market price or even retail shelf. 2002 SQN JFTLOI for $185, 2000 Marcassin Marcassin Pinot for $200, 2001 Harlan for $500, can't find those pricing at any other restaurants or even retail shelf.

Corkage Policy
1. La Toque
2. the Kitchen
3. French Laundry
Another category French Laundry is a distant third. La Toque and Kitchen does not have any sort of limitation, only difference is the fee charged, La Toque at $18 and the Kitchen at $25. French Laundry does not allow you to bring a wine in if it's on their list, plus the $50 corkage fee last I checked.

T1. La Toque
T1. the Kitchen
3. French Laundry
As previously mentioned, I've been to La Toque four times. Lost track of how many visits to La Toque, but no less than five.
French Laundry's food is wonderful and I do want to dine there again, but when everything else is considered, it's just not on the top of my list. Of course, pricing is a factor as well, since I am not independent wealthy.
Last edited by pyang
Wow what a fantastic dinning experience!

Dinner 5/5/06 with Mark Neal , Margaretha Neal , Jack Neal (he was not drinking this night), Gove and Elizabeth Celio and thier friends Mark and his girlfriend (I can't remember her name )

Demonstration Dinner

Presented by Chefs Nancy Zimmer, Randall Selland
and Chef de Cuisine Noah Zonca


Tortellini with Chili-Chive-Coriander Essence,
Texas Wild Boar, Mascarpone, Octopus 'Bacon',
Maine Lobster Hollandaise and
Boar Consommé

A Salad of Endigia, Indoor Grown Bibb Lettuce,
Arugula, Avocado, Walnuts,
Creamy Parmesan, Grained Mustard
and Teenage Herbs

Grilled Halibut Cheeks with
Winter Squash and Spring Onions,
a Giant Prawn Corndog, Wild Trout Roe
and Lemon-Asparagus Broth

'Center Cut' Beef Tenderloin with
a Potato-Mushroom Cannoli, Braised Lamb 'Sandwich'
and Argentine Malbec-Black Pepper Sauce

Creamed Chocolate and Strawberry Crepe with
Caramel, Homemade Ice Cream,
and Peppermint

This was an exceptional evening as chef Randall's first night back in over a year and wow is he entertaining as we sat at counter, front and center, to chef/entertainer. Very fun and interactive. You are free to roam around in kitchen and view the food in progress and discuss the meals components with the asst. chefs and staff. The wine list is awsome in Cal. wines and the service and stems are excellent.

Also you can get seconds or thirds (as your wish) as I enjoyed an extra plate of the freshly fried crabs!! That were crawling on the counter just 5 minutes earlier; they tasted like potato chips with vinegar and legs

Start 6:50pm --------- Left 12:00 midnight.

2001 Olivier Leflaive Beinvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 95-96CK
2002 Bouchard Corton-Charlemange 375ml 93-94CK
2002 Neal Cab 89-90CK
2002 Turley Zin 93CK
2002 (i think) Marcassin 3 sisters 92-93CK
2003 Neal Rutherford 93-94CK
2003 Foley Claret 94-95CK

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