Yountville, California newcomer La Calenda represents two big “firsts” for chef Thomas Keller: It’s his first Mexican restaurant, and his
first establishment with a kids’ menu [Update: seen note below].
Although he’s perhaps best known for the three-hour-long, bazillion-course tastings at The French Laundry and Per Se, Mr. Oysters and Pearls decided to scale things down a bit for the children’s menu at his new cafe — a collaboration between Keller and Oaxacan-born chef Kaelin Ulrich Trilling — while still adhering to the prix fixe format. Lil gourmands can choose one entree item and one dessert for the low, low price of just $10 — a bargain compared to the entrees for adults, which are priced between $22 and $28. Lunch or dinner for four children actually costs as much as one “French Laundry Youth Chef Coat” from his Finesse store, and each meal comes with complimentary beans and rice. This special menu from the Friar of Finesse and his crew is adorned with whimsical doodles of some of the food items, including churros, a taco, and a handful of beans.
Here’s the latest menu, straight from the desk of Napa Valley’s fine dining trailblazer:
Although this is the first, proper kids’ menu from the California Cuisine legend, his Manhattan restaurant Per Se has also sporadically served special “kids eat free” meals, where Keller classics like salmon cornets and gougères were served alongside specials like a “PB & J” dish made with foie gras, shaved peanut brittle, and jam. It seems that Keller is, perhaps, trying to get a new generation of restaurant-goers hooked on his auteurist cuisine from a young age, so that when they grow up and come into wealth of their own, they will spend their money on his tasting menus and branded $225 salt boxes.
UPDATE: Thomas Keller’s PR team sends word that, actually, the chef served a kids’ menu at the Beverly Hills location of Bouchon, which closed at the end of 2017. So while it’s not entirely new territory for Keller, La Calenda is the only restaurant in his empire with a Kkid’s menu.