A taste of the Laundry and a perfect Match

Two weeks ago, I dined at The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s restaurant in Napa Valley, Calif., and am pleased to report the dinner exceeded my expectations. Housed in a stone building more than a century old, a meal here is a feast for the five senses.

Keller, as you probably know, operates Bouchon at the Venetian, as well as Bouchon Bakery on the casino level there. But he is at the top of his game in Napa Valley, having won three Michelin stars and also having twice been voted Top Restaurant in the World in a poll conducted by an international team of journalists for San Pellegrino.

The meal, at $250 per person (service included), is an indulgence, a multi-course affair that lasts more than three hours. You get a market menu that changes daily as well as signature Keller dishes such as his Oysters and Pearls, oysters in a tapioca butter sauce with caviar, hen’s egg custard with truffles, and Coffee and Doughnuts, a sweet custard that looks like a cappuccino accompanied by hot beignets.

The one caveat is the jackets required for gentleman at dinner, a dress code that even Robuchon at the MGM has done away with.

You’ll need to make reservations well in advance, at 707-944-2380. Reservations are accepted up to two months from the calendar date. Lunch is from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; dinner from 5:15-9:15 p.m.

I also dined recently at one of our most unusual restaurants, Match, which opened in March to almost no fanfare. The restaurant features chefs from Spain, Korea and Japan, and the Asian fare is as authentic as anywhere in Vegas.

Picture a modern restaurant with Korean barbecue tables in the front room, and private rooms behind, decorated Western style. The menu is a hybrid of Korean barbecue, Japanese pub dishes and Spanish tapas. Paellas (Spanish rice casseroles) are available by calling in advance.

Prices here are astonishingly low. Seared tuna with spicy garlic sauce is $6, while Singaporean dragon balls (spicy battered tuna, chopped onion and peppers with eel sauce) are $3.50.

The Korean barbecue includes pork, sliced rib-eye, beef tongue, or beef short rib, plus choice of two Korean sides ($18). Private karaoke rooms are available at $70 for two hours, but if you spend that amount on the food or beverages, the rooms are free. The restaurant is at 1263 Silverado Ranch Blvd. Call 629-4444 for more info.

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