foodie bits: how to get a reservation at french laundry

This is the first of my entries where I will give some valuable tips and tidbits in the world we know as foodieplanet!

How to get a reservation at French Laundry

Used to be that the only way you can get into French Laundry was if you know a friend of a friend who knows someone within its hallowed halls. However, this changed with the advent of the online reservation site, opentable.com. Now, us mere mortals can actually have an equal shot at getting a reservation as those with connections. This, however, requires careful planning and an understanding of how the French Laundry reservation system actually works.

French Laundry releases their tables exactly 60 days in advance. So, for example, if you need a reservation for dinner on April 15, you need to contact French Laundry on February 15, either by phone or through Open Table. Chances are, however, that by the time you call or visit the site all the tables have been fully committed.

If you go the Open Table route, there are several things to think about and consider:

  • Only two tables are opened up for Open Table per night.
  • The reservation can only be made for a table of 4.
  • You should like eating at 5:30pm or 9:30pm as those are the only times available through Open Table.

Once you’ve agreed to all these and decided on the date, you then go to the Open Table site exactly 61 days before that date at approximately 11:45pm PT. eHow actually has given the best instructions on what steps to use within Open Table.

While the Open Table route seems easy, there is even an easier way, and it’s fairly painless. Of course, I saved the best and easiest way for last! All this tip requires is an American Express Gold or Platinum card (or a very close friend who owns one!). At any time more than 60 days (it can even be 90 days in advance) from your desired date, call Concierge at American Express and ask them to make a reservation at French Laundry for you. Through this service, you are not limited to the size of your party or to a specific time.

Concierge at American Express actually has a person dedicated to just procuring reservations at French Laundry. They will note the desired date of your reservation into their system and will make the reservation for you exactly 60 days in advance. They will then call you once they have confirmed the reservation. While nothing is guaranteed, I have yet to not get a reservation using this system. So there you have it! Good luck and happy eating!

Upcoming foodie bits:

  • How to get into Momofuku Ko
  • How to increase your chances in the El Bulli lottery
  • Best way to order the roasted chicken at Zuni
  • Cheapest way to have the lobster pot pie at Michael Mina
  • Best way to eat at Sebo
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~ by foodieplanet on March 11, 2010.

5 Responses to “foodie bits: how to get a reservation at french laundry”

  1. Hi there. Thanks for the write up on this. One question I had was, is it pretty much guaranteed that if you use the AMEX Platinum conceirge that you can get a reservation? I’m on the fence in getting the credit card to begin with, but thought that if I can get guaranteed results then I would just get the card anyway.

    Thanks again.

    • Hi, DC!
      While nothing is guaranteed, I have never been turned down for a reservation using the Amex Concierge route. In fact, I’ve been able to get French Laundry and Per Se reservations through Amex Concierge a total of 8 times, all went without a hitch. Well, all but one, but they were able to remedy the situation immediately. In the one hiccup, somebody at Concierge noted the wrong date, so my desired date was not made. After a call to Concierge, they quickly made amends and was able to get me the reservation. I have made reservation for friends as well using this route, so if you really want to try it out, I would suggest you find a friend with a Gold or Platinum card and ask him/her to make you a reservation at French Laundry. It just has to be more than 60 days from the date of the reservation.

      Good luck!

      – Darwin

  2. Darwin,

    I have a question. My friend made a reservation for me using his Amex Gold card concierge, but put the reservation under his name and my name (instead of my husband’s name and my name) because he wasn’t sure if they would book the reservation for him using if he wasn’t booking it for himself. Do you know if there are any issues with this? Do you think my friend can call Amex back and have them switch the name of the reservation to my husband’s name and my name without a problem?

    • The reservation is reserved under your friend’s Amex Gold card and is guaranteed as such. I’ve made reservations for close friends (guaranteeing it with my Amex), but they just pay with their own credit card when presented with the bill. I have never done this, but you may call French Laundry to change the name of the reservation, but getting through to their line is not very easy.

  3. […] there. There are dozens of websites just dedicated to how to get a reservation there (here are some examples). The process is very specific – reservations open up 2 months prior, to the date, at 10AM […]

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