Michelin 3-Star Pop-Ups! World Famous Noma! French Laundry! “Ad Lib” Pop-Up Success!

Feel like some “Sea Urchin Pie?”

sea urchin pie

OK then, are you in the mood for a nice poached oyster in custard with caviar?

Oysters and pearls

These are two of the most imaginative and delicious bites of the food in the world – and the creative Chefs behind those dishes have taken their show on the road!

The French Laundry

“The French Laundry” Ad-Libs!

Chef Thomas Keller turned Napa valley’s “French Laundry” into one of the world’s greatest restaurants. This 3-star Michelin restaurant even allows you to wander through their garden, which is open to the public and includes maps to show you what they are growing for dinner!

yountville wine country tourism

In the fall of 2011, Chef Keller took The French Laundry on the road, doing a “pop up” version of the restaurant at legendary Harrods department store in London!

harrods french laundry pop up

Recently, The French Laundry closed in order for a short period in order to expand the kitchen. This inspired Keller to launch a “pop up” restaurant nearby, called “Ad Lib.” And while The French Laundry is once again open, Ad Lib’s incredible success has also kept that “pop up” open as well!

Thomas Keller Ad Lib menu

I will share my meal at “Ad Lib” in a moment, but first, another acclaimed Chef also offered a “pop up” restaurant recently, but this one was for a limited time only – and caused a foodie sensation in Japan!

wild duck rye soy

“Noma” Hits The Road!

Noma restaurant in Copenhagen Denmark is one of the best in the world. 37-year-old chef and founder, René Redzepi, is what Newsweek calls “the high wizard of ‘New Nordic’ cuisine. Using traditional Scandinavian techniques like smoking, pickling, curing and fermenting, he and his small, dedicated team transform native ingredients into something entirely new and, more important, delicious. ‘The idea is to force creativity by setting limitations,’ Redzepi says.”

noma Restaurant in Copenhagen - Main Entrance

A 60,000 Person Waiting List!

Chef Redzepi decide to take his restaurant on the road, so Noma did an incredible “pop up” in early 2015 – it moved temporarily from Copenhagen to Tokyo’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Noma restaurant Michelin

According to Newsweek, there was a waiting list of 60,000 people for reservations!

From January 9 to February 14 2015 Noma served a fixed menu, including wine pairing, for 64,900 Yen ($550). And what did diners get for that price? Well, here are a few examples:

Langoustine and Ants

Try This: “Langoustines and Ants.”

As I said, Noma is considered the most inventive restaurant in the world right now. They forage in the wilds of Denmark for much of their menu items, and in Tokyo they utilized Asian ingredients like this:

wild duck rye soy

This is “Wild Duck in Rye and Soy.”

And how about some “Black Garlic Leather” on the side?

black garlic leather

Pie, Anyone?

Well, the kind of pie that Noma serves isn’t for dessert….like this “clam pie”:

world's best restaurant Tokyo clam pie

sea urchin pie

Or you can have a slice of “sea urchin pie” instead.

18 courses. Amazingly inventive. Some hard to believe.

Kudos to the incredible majesty of the food – and an important thanks for the pictures from the Instagram of Ivan Orkin (@ramenjunkie) and René Redzepi (@reneredzepinoma). These were all posted as part of a great article in “Gizmodo” – see all of the menu items here:


I would love to try Noma some day, but until then, I can share my incredible meal at Chef Thomas Keller’s “Ad Lib” restaurant in Napa Valley!

Thomas Keller Ad Lib

Chef Keller celebrated opening night by making Caesar salads table side. The menu celebrates a classic steak house environment, with unique twists.

Our night started with a platter of “tastes”: deviled eggs, a crab salad in an edible bowl, yellow beet with a rice cake, and a zucchini pan perdue – all delicious…

Thomas Keller appetizers

Classic steakhouse dinner rolls are served from Bouchon bakery, along with creamy butter and a side dish of salt:

Keller Bouchon Bakery bread

Bring On The Crudite!

My wife had a collection of fresh crudite, served with a classic Green Goddess dressing…

Ad Lib menu

I ordered the Caesar salad served table side…here is the progression as they make it for you from scratch…beginning when they roll a salad making station up next to you…

classic caesar salad recipe

caesar salad recipe

As you can see, everything is fresh: an egg yolk, garlic, olive oil, croutons, lettuce and a healthy shower of parmesan cheese…

best caesar salad recipes

After crushing the garlic clove in the bowl, next comes the egg yolk, which is stirred with a steady stream of olive oil, followed by anchovies and romaine lettuce…

Caesar salad directions

After a snowstorm of freshly grated parmesan, the croutons are added and the salad is plated for you…

Thomas Keller caesar salad

Bring On The “Ribeye!”

Since it’s a classic steakhouse, I order a “ribeye” steak, but this is a special cut that makes it tower on the plate, topped by a slice of grilled onion…

best steak recipes

My wife ordered classic lamb chops, which show up stacked high on the plate and ready to be devoured…

best lamb recipes

Classic side dishes included glazed carrots, creamed spinach and of course, whipped potatoes…smooth as silk..

best carrot recipes

creamed spinach recipes

best mashed potato recipes

The dining room evokes a classic east coast steakhouse, with white linen and well dressed servers…and the food was terrific. Kudos to Thomas Keller and his team for a great pop up, which will be open through October of 2015.

Ad Lib restaurant Napa

This is a classic Napa valley sunset view as you exit the restaurant, a great way to end the night.

Keller also has a terrific french bistro in Yountville called Bouchon, and another restaurant in town as well called Ad Hoc. Both are great, under the loving culinary care of Chef Ross Melling at Bouchon and Chef Katie Hagen-Whelchel at Ad Hoc. Chef Keller’s fine dining menu at “The French Laundry” is a culinary treat, and the iconic restaurant recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary!

French Laundry XX Party

My wife Alex and I were lucky enough to attend the celebration, and get to enjoy a 14-course menu from Chef Keller – featuring some of his favorite dishes from his culinary past and present, including of course his legendary “salmon cone”:

French Laundry salmon cone

Read about the entire celebration here:


Kudos to Chef Keller and his amazingly talented team for another culinary success – and take advantage of “Ad Lib” being open through 2015! Also, we can’t wait for our next trip to “The Laundry!”

I was inspired to write this story because of Eventbrite, and joined their “Trends in Food & Drink” project. To me, this “pop up restaurant” trend, when executed by the world’s greatest Chefs, takes fine dining to a whole new level!

I like that Eventbrite is a great platform for finding events in your areas, and also offer event management tools to get the word out about your own “pop up” events!

You can check it out here:


Time to stop reading and go pop up your own event!

Chef Keller JR and Alex

Categories: Awards, Books / Media, cookbooks, Exotic Travel, Food, Food Review, Japan, London, Memoirs, Recipes, Restaurants, Talent/Celebrities, Technology, Tokyo!, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized, Wacky Food

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2 replies


  1. Eleven Madison Park! World’s Best Restaurant? A Visual “Tasting Menu” Revealed! – johnrieber
  2. Dishwasher Becomes Owner Of NOMA, One Of The World’s Greatest Restaurants! An Amazing, Inspiring Story From Denmark! – johnrieber

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