THE RESTAURANT AT MEADOWOOD, Napa Valley – Not a Fan of the Healthy Three Michelin Star Tasting Menu

Dining Date: May 27, 2013

Dining Occasion: Dinner, full tasting menu $225 per person

See the Eater’s Highlights: Having tried the only two restaurants in Napa Valley with three Michelin stars, I recommend The French Laundry over The Restaurant at Meadowood (read about The French Laundry here). I have to say The Restaurant has one of the healthiest tasting menus I have eaten. The service is undoubtedly top notch, but I was expecting more exotic or high end ingredients for the price of the tasting menu. On the other hand, The Restaurant does have very innovative dishes and great food photography opportunities. Also, the ingredients are very fresh and of top quality. Most of the ingredients are grown locally at Meadowood’s farm. As a bonus, I was also invited to tour their beautiful kitchen and meet head chef, Christopher Kostow.

The Details:

I had high expectations for The Restaurant because a friend recommended it to me. I was staying at the Meadowood Resort, which is where The Restaurant is located, so I planned to dine at The Restaurant on my last night in the valley, right before my flight. The Restaurant was very accommodating and allowed me to finish the meal in just three hours for me to catch my flight. Furthermore, I found a tiny creature (not a cockroach or fly) crawling in one of the raw vegetables. Being a farm to table restaurant, I was not freaked out, but felt rather reassured about the freshness of the organic ingredients coming right from their little garden. My waiter was polite, apologized, and replaced my dish promptly.

The Meadowood Resort is very relaxing and I love the low key and classic entrance of The Restaurant. The interior is very homey and classy. (click the following images to enlarge)

Entrance to The Restaurant

Entrance to The Restaurant

Entrance to The Restaurant

Entrance to The Restaurant

Greeted at the warming entrance of The Restaurant

Greeted at the warming entrance of The Restaurant

Interior entrance area

Interior entrance area

Table setting

Table setting

Table setting

Table setting

Dining area

Dining area

Flowers on dining table

Flowers on dining table

Amuse bouche: Pillows on a Pillow Crispy, filled with formage blanc

Amuse bouche: Pillows on a Pillow
Crispy, filled with formage blanc

The Pillows on a Pillow were the first thing brought out and I was all over how cute they were. It tasted good, but was not amazing to my senses.

Amuse bouche: Champagne Marinated Vegetables

Amuse bouche: Champagne Marinated Vegetables

The Champagne Marinated Vegetables are directly from the Meadowood farm. Despite the cuteness of the little vegetables, I felt like a little bunny nibbling in a garden.

Amuse bouche: Carrot Cakes and Kale Chips on a Book

Amuse bouche: Carrot Cakes and Kale Chips on a Book

I loved the presentation of the Carrot Cakes and Kale Chips, but the tastes were on the bland side. We were also allowed to flip through the book and look at the pictures.

Amuse bouche: Pumpernickel Macarons

Amuse bouche: Pumpernickel Macarons

By the fourth amuse bouche, I was attracted to the presentation of the dishes, but the tastes were not that exciting to me. It was not bad, but not great. These are savory macarons, which tasted unique but not the kind of macarons I love.

Whipped Yogurt, Black Sesame, Pickled Plum, Shiso

Whipped Yogurt, Black Sesame, Pickled Plum, Shiso

This was an interesting dish with Japanese elements mixed into yogurt.

White Asparagus, Smoked Sturgeon, Nasturtium, Egg

White Asparagus, Smoked Sturgeon, Nasturtium, Egg

Potatoes Cooked in Beeswax, Assorted Sorrels

Potatoes Cooked in Beeswax, Assorted Sorrels

I enjoyed this dish with the soft potatoes and crispy sorrels.

Roasted Cucumber Dill, Braised Borage

Roasted Cucumber Dill, Braised Borage

Crackers

Crackers

Abalone, Liver Succulents, Chicken Bonito

Abalone, Liver Succulents, Chicken Bonito

Salmon, Bean Nopale, Papalo

Salmon, Bean Nopale, Papalo

The third Michelin restaurant salmon dish I had within a week’s time. Unfortunately this was not as exciting as the salmon served at The French Laundry or at Guy Savoy.

Bouillon of Roasted Meats

Bouillon of Roasted Meats

This course did not impress me at all, in fact I took a sip and did not finish it. The soup was way too salty.

Cote de Boeuf Morels in Kasu Dried Oyster Nettles

Cote de Boeuf Morels in Kasu Dried Oyster Nettles

Guinea Hen, Summer Truffle, Samp Grits Procini

Guinea Hen, Summer Truffle, Samp Grits Procini

Pork Collar, Sorghum, Peaches, Wild Fennel

Pork Collar, Sorghum, Peaches, Wild Fennel

A sweet tasting pork course, which was one of my favorite course of the whole tasting menu. It actually tastes similar to the sweet Chinese roasted pork (for my Chinese readers, it reminded me of 蜜汁火腿).

Delta Blueberry Robiola Cheesecake, Wild Pecan

Delta Blueberry Robiola Cheesecake, Wild Pecan

Though not bad, the Blueberry Cheesecake at The French Laundry was definitely more appealing to my taste buds.

Koji Sorbet, Apricot

Koji Sorbet, Apricot

Chocolate Cherry Tart

Chocolate Cherry Tart

These tasted like cherry flavored Dippin’ Dots ice cream on a soft chocolate tart. It was unique, yet not amazing.

A Candy Dish EVERYTHING, including the wrappers are made to be edible

A Candy Dish
EVERYTHING, including the wrappers are made to be edible

The candies were a nice ending and they all tasted pretty good. Our waiter was kind enough to pack these up for me to go since I was stuffed and was also in a hurry to catch my flight.

A menu of what I ate for me to take home with my name written on it.

A menu of what I ate for me to take home with my name written on it.

We were presented with a menu of our food, with our names on it as a personal touch. Despite being on a schedule to catch my flight, we were invited to visit their kitchen and meet the chef.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen (a two guest seat chef’s table on the right side of the photo)

Kitchen (a two guest seat chef’s table on the right side of the photo)

Kitchen

Kitchen

Chef Christopher Kostow

Chef Christopher Kostow

The kitchen was very clean and all staff were very busy. I was surprised to see a two seat chef’s table in the kitchen. It would be a completely different ambiance dining inside the kitchen and watching all the chefs work their busy hands.

Overall, I had a relaxing experience and enjoyed both the quality service and the innovative presentations of the courses. The innovative approach, however, was not presented well in the flavors of the food. If you are choosing between the two restaurants with three Michelin stars in Napa Valley, I would recommend the French Laundry over The Restaurant. Read my review on the French Laundry here.

The Restaurant at Meadowood http://www.therestaurantatmeadowood.com

Address: 900 Meadowood Ln, St Helena, CA 94574 Phone: (707) 967-1205