During our stay in the Napa Valley we had the good fortune of dining at the stunning Restaurant at Meadowood. As it was dark and cold when we arrived, we didn’t get a chance to explore any of the vast expanse of the grounds, but we were reminded of the country-like feel of the Lake House in Daylesford when we were seated in the restaurant itself so I can imagine it would be lovely & tranquil.
We went to dinner with no intention of ordering any form of tasting menu as our stomachs (and wallet!) had undergone a fair workout over the last couple of days with visits to The French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Bottega, and countless wineries, but quickly found ourselves being persuaded otherwise as we relaxed into the evening with a pre-dinner cocktail and rather morish appetiser, ‘pillow on a pillow’ – a miniature puff of cheese, topped with a delicate flower, presented on a pillow. I’m sure this comes out before you’ve made a decision regarding the menu as the whimsy in this dish had our interest piqued, making the justification for the $195pp tasting menu (consisting of canapés, first bites, 8 courses and last bites) quite simple!
Chefs tasting menu ordered, it wasn’t long before the ‘first bites’ of the night arrived – crunchy baby vegetables (left) and pork fritters with powdered sour cream (right). The vegetable dish reminded us of the starter we enjoyed at Loam in the way the kitchen allows the beauty of impeccably fresh produce to speak for itself.
We were also treated with a second ‘first bite’ but unfortunately time has eroded my memory of this dish & I cannot for the life of me remember what it was – but here’s the picture anyway… perhaps somebody who has also dined here might be able to identify it?
Dinner proper began with probably the most interesting interpretation of Foie Gras we’ve experienced. It was soy cured and served with winter pea, ‘ocean flavours’ and steamed brioche.
We then moved on to course 2 – Meadowood Garden “Potage” with toasted grains, matsutake & whipped bacon fat. This was quite a delicate dish and I suppose not a typical ‘potage’ but delicious in its own right – and seriously… what doesn’t taste better with the addition of whipped bacon fat?!
The third course allowed us to enjoy some of our favourite crustacean – langoustine! This dish was served in rice paper, winter vegetables & a fish sauce… YUM!
Course number four progressed onto the heavier protein of the night – I do believe it was a perfectly cooked plate of goat with tasty little vegetables!
The meal then took a somewhat disappointing turn with me not particularly enjoying course 5, and Donny disliking course 6.
The fifth course was sweetbreads with black truffle, parsnip and black trumpet mushroom. Perhaps if you’re a fan of sweetbreads you’d appreciate how they were made to be the star of the dish, but if you’re like me, and could really take them or leave them, you might find that there isn’t enough of the other elements on the plate to make it wholly enjoyable. Thankfully, Donny didn’t mind eating what I couldn’t
The sixth course, ‘Curds and Whey’ was Donny’s least favourite. He thought it tasted like ‘day spa’, which I suspect was thanks to the addition of Bergamot (it also had buckwheat & sel gris). I didn’t mind it so was able to repay Donny the favour and finish his dish. Like it or hate it, this was certainly different to the run-of-the-mill cheese course you’re often presented with in any case!
Course 7 was a palate cleanser of Howell Mountain Ash Berry Compote, Meadowood garden borage & bitter chards. I suppose a lot of effort went into this, but personally I wouldn’t usually call a palate cleanser like this a course. Then again… you do get a number of small tastes at the start of the night which more than make up for this
The final official course of the evening steered things back on track with the scrumptious ‘impressions of coffee’. Being coffee fiends, we both enjoyed the different textures of coffee flavour on our plates.
Feeling rather full, ‘last bites’ for the evening were a struggle to get through, but we took our time savouring each of the different textures and flavours to leave the moss looking rather bare!
Aside from the two dishes that we felt didn’t hit the mark, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood. I’m not sure how current renovations to the restaurant will affect the experience but I’d love to go back and find out!