Lately I have been planning a trip to Napa Valley which we are taking this weekend (olive oil tasting, here we come!), as well as reading The United States of Arugula (a history of how our country became gourmet-ified). Between both activities, I have become aware that Thomas Keller’s French Laundry restaurant, located in Yountville, CA, is one of the best establishments in our country.
Keller states his philosophy towards the French Laundry dining experience: "I serve five to ten courses, each meant to satisfy your appetite and pique your curiosity. I want you to say, ‘God, I wish I had just one more bite of that.'" His tasting menu changes daily, and the prix fixe for dinner is $250. Per person.
There are hundred of reviews of the French Laundry on yelp.com, some of which claim that eating there was a "once in a lifetime experience" and even "life changing", "humbling", one reviewer even claimed, "I wept" (upon tasting one exquisite dish). I understand feelings like this as I reflect on the first time I tasted an extremely expensive French truffle in Paris. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before, and until then, I did not know that chocolate could taste like that. However, said truffle was given to me by a generous friend and did not entail personal impoverishment to acquire.
I find the cost requested by Keller to be extraordinary - dinner for two, $500. My question is: Would you spend that kind of money on one meal? If so, under what circumstances?