Throughout the year, Restaurant Editor Bill Addison will travel the country to chronicle what's happening in America's dining scene and to formulate his list of the essential 38 restaurants in America. Follow his progress in this travelogue/review series, The Road to the 38, and check back at the end of the year to find out which restaurants made the cut.
Our server at The French Laundry delivers the icon-of-an-icon with a grin. "Cornet of salmon tartare with sweet red onion crème fraîche," he says. Fifteen years ago, when I first relished this savory replica of the all-American ice cream cone, the staff brought the dish with a demeanor that announced, "We're turning fine dining on its head." Now it arrives almost as a nostalgic gesture, an opener that says, "This is where the revolution began—and isn't it still delicious?"