Phenomenal experience on Christmas Eve. Eleven courses (more like 40 if you count every item) and it’s hard to pick a favorite. But it’s my job, so I’ll make the call: the smoked salmon covered in steelhead roe!
But seriously, everthing was superb, and the service was that perfect balance of professionalism and friendliness that you rarely find accompanying elevated cuisine.
Although not inexpensive, I have to say that the dinner is very fairly priced.
The wine list has impressive breadth, and some depth, with stunning selections of the top wines, and stunning prices to match, but for those who invest some effort (I suggest a thorough perusal online before your visit) there are some gems here. A specific recommendation for chardonnay fans: 2015 Journeyman Chardonnay (complex, malolactic, good acid, touch of oak, apple, citrus, spice, caramel, honey, true expression of chardonnay fruit).
This charming restaurant is located on a side street of St. Helena’s Main Street. The delightful space upstairs offers high beamed ceilings and an open kitchen, plus lots of duck hunting memorabilia. Downstairs is an atmospheric bar that also has table seating. And there is also lovely outdoor dining.
The menu offers elevated comfort food such as fish and chips, or cheesesteak sandwiches, both of which were good. The orange tart with kumquat marmalade was excellent.
The wine list is very extensive, with plenty of selections from around the world and a nice assortment of half bottles.
It’s a bit difficult to rate a restaurant based upon a special meal, and we dined on the final night of The Restaurant’s Twelve Days of Christmas 2019 event. On the other hand, the final night is when The Restaurant’s own chef, Christopher Kostow, is in charge, so one assumes the food is representative of the normal quality.
Unfortunately, that seemed to be all over the map. There were indeed some of the stunning courses you’d expect from a three-star Michelin, such as the trout roe, the oxheart carrot, and the sunchoke trifle. But there were also some notable misses, including the unappealing quail, tough pork collar, and many others.
The service made up for a lot of that. It included the kind of synchronized moves that Michelin raters seem to fawn over, but also was very gracious and welcoming, and apologetic for the long wait for our table (no doubt the result of it being the third seating of a completely new menu).
The setting is also sublime: a not-overdone graceful simplicity, and a remarkably good illusion of snowflakes falling outside, to complement the festive mood.
What to make of it? Hard to say without a repeat visit, but at $1000 for two (with wine) I’m not in a hurry to do so.
Nice modern space inside a venerable old house. Friendly and accommodating staff. We went for Saturday brunch. The smoked salmon was served with all the possible accompaniments, including a nice dill cream cheese. Chilaquiles were also very good. The highlight was the best margarita I’ve ever had, served chilled, with a salty foam.
This is a spectacularly set decorated multi-level space where The Adventurer’s Club used to be. Old machinery forms the decor, and old movies play on flat panels and projectors. At night there are even aerial acrobatics, but it’s much more relaxing during the day.
This is the sort of place that almost demands you have a cocktail–preferably a classic cocktail–to match the decor. And the drinks are good, although pricey.
Unfortunately the food doesn’t live up to the surroundings. The menu is pretty much basic sports bar, but not particularly well prepared. Chicken wings were particularly flaccid, with a soggy, loose skin that was quite unappealing. The buffalo chicken sandwich was better, although the accompanying fries were also limp.
This terrific restaurant in The Ballard Inn is very popular, so be sure to make reservations. The atmosphere is a cross between modern and colonial, and the food is 100% creative.
We loved every course. The standouts were the best tomato soup I’ve ever tasted, and some incredibly tender octopus. The hamachi was also melt in your mouth tender. Service was an efficient team effort.
The wine list offers a nice selection of local bottles and some French wines, but very little variety by the glass.