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May 23, 2007



So, it's finally happened -- another food blogger less than blown away by TFL. I was starting to think that I would be the lone voice in the wilderness forever!


It is not exciting food but it is very well done - for what it is. After eating in my fair share of French restaurants over the past year, I'd say it is 3-star Michelin quality.

W/r/t the "i could've cooked it myself" comments - that about sums up most of the Bay Area dining scene. However, TFL is far more technical than most restaurants. If you really could cook it, I'll pay reduced prices :-)

Is TFL the best in the bay? No way... A certain 2-star (the only legitimate one in Michelin's wacky list) has clearly taken the lead.


NS -- I remember you said that you think it is not as good as it once was. I haven't been enough to judge if that's the case or not, I just know how the meal struck me this time. The bloom is off the rose, I guess.

ChuckEats -- I definitely didn't mean that I could cook at that level -- I hope I made that clear! I was simply pointing out that the innovation of the dishes was not, for the most part, in their component parts. As you say, they are brilliant technicians. No question there.

I am curious to know which 2-star you mean...?

Jennifer Jeffrey

I know how hard this was to write - I felt the same way after my visit there in March. I just kept thinking: what am I missing? Why isn't this meal exciting me?

I don't think we have to apologize for having high expectations. TFL has positioned itself as the game to beat... and certainly its prices follow suit.

But, like you, I feel lucky to have had the chance to form that opinion!


After reading your post, I went back and read my last review of TFL (from 2005) and found it to be remarkably similar. Some of the dishes we were served that evening were outstanding, but more than a few were just fine without being inspiring. And yes, I definitely feel that the TFL has dropped precipitously from where it stood during my early meals at the restaurant in 2000-2001.

As for Chuck's comment, I can only assume from his writings elsewhere that he's referring to Manresa. I, too, have thought that Kinch has been giving Keller a run for his money for the past few years, especially when you factor in the cost of a meal at the two restaurants. That said, I was rather underwhelmed by the Passard dinner at Manresa back in March. The ingredients were certainly pristine, so the menu was enjoyable in that sense in a Chez Panisse kind of way. But the preparations and flavor combinations, with a few notable exceptions, failed to blow me away -- which was surprising given how much I've enjoyed Kinch's regular tasting menu in the past. Similarly, when I ate at L'Arpege for the first time a few weeks ago, it became shockingly clear that the full extent of Passard's genius did not even come close to translating properly in Los Gatos. I guess this was one of those rare instances in which the total may have been less than the sum of its parts!


Jennifer -- I think this is why I didn't come home and sit down at the computer right away. I needed some time to think about how I wanted to say what I needed to say.

NS -- I assumed he meant Manresa too, but I was afraid of putting words in his mouth since I am an unabashed Manresa lover! It's interesting to read your comments about L'Arpege...I can't wait to read the entire Paris epic...but mostly I am reassured that Passard can cook. I also didn't find his dishes at the Manresa dinner overly inspirational.


NS - i completely agree w/ your Manresa & L'Arpege comments. I talked to Kinch briefly about this and, being just an eater, I didn't realize everything that must come together for such an effort to work. Nevertheless, if Passard comes back next year, I'll return. L'Arpege is definitely a must-go for anyone traveling to Paris (assuming one has the budget b/c its expense can dwarf TFL.)

I should be eating at TFL sometime this summer but I've now learned how to play the expectations game - lower them and let them exceed :-)


I forgot to mention. This is a relatively new blog, but the main writer has more eating experience than all of us put together.

She also happens to be TFL's best (or 2nd best) customer - over 100 meals. This is what happens when the TFL gloves come off and they let loose a little:



The presentation of the dishes look really supberb. Thanks for the review. Don't know if I'll ever get to TFL is this life time.


I really enjoyed reading this. I always think it's amazing how much life events and a new perspective can change the same experience so much. I really loved all the pictures, and especially the heartfelt review. I followed the link and read about Mr. FM's accident and I am bowled over. What a tragedy, and what amazing people you both are! It doesn't surprise me at all that a fancy meal is a different experience now.


Chuck -- I too know someone who's eaten at TFL nearly that many times. It's NUTS! But I am eager to read that blog you posted and see how different it can be if you're a good customer.

Cynthia -- glad you enjoyed it! Truthfully, I'm even more excited to try Ad Hoc, Keller's family-style American eatery just down the street. They don't take reservations at all, which seems so democratic!

Tiffany -- It's been a rough year. I don't feel very amazing; I find that you just get up every morning and keep on keeping on. There really is no other choice. Luckly, Mr. FM is much better now, and I look forward to the day when he is all the way better. That would be better than ANY meal, no matter how fine!


I love your comment about how you meant lucky for the experience, not just lucky to get in. I try to keep my feet on the ground and remember how fortunate I am to be able to be picky about my olive oil and gourmet salt (and I am). It's a rarified world up here, so many have so much less.

That said, it sounds like the entire trip was a wonderful experience (and I'm still laughing over the Target in Eden line).

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