California · Uncategorized · United States · Wine

Napa Valley Dining

During our 3 day weekend stay, we made reservations at three restaurants and I thoroughly enjoyed them all.  I’ll do them in chronological order in this post because they were all wonderful though if pressed, I think I enjoyed our long, multi-course lunch at Auberge du Soleil the most.

Solbar at Solage Resort

We stayed at the Solage Resort and Spa in Calistoga during our stay.  The Solage is also home to one of the top rated restaurants in Napa called Solbar.  Fortunately, I made late dinner reservations there for our first night as our arrival flight was delayed and we landed right during rush hour traffic. The restaurant building was very rustic and the interior resembled a large barn structure with a bar at one end and large fireplace at the other with lots of natural wood and large windows.  There was also a large outdoor terrace with seats under olive trees and long gas fireplace but it was too cool and rainy to sit outside.

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Interior of SolBar (courtesy of their website – our dinner was late so it was really dark inside and hard to get good quality photos w/o blinding diner with a flash)
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Glass of pinot noir from Burgundy at Solbar

I started with a fig salad and charred onion salad that also had prosciutto san daniele and a parmesan mousse that was divine.  They also brought a bread basket with small sweet corn muffins and the restaurant passed my butter test – butter must be brought out soft and with a tiny sprinkle of salt (rock hard butter is my nemesis).  I had a hard time deciding on my entree but finally went with a roasted pork tenderloin with tamarind glaze, a butternut squash puree flavored with coconut, spicy cashews and jasmine scented rice.  The pork was perfectly cooked but I found the coconut flavor to be overpowering and too sweet for the meat but it did kind of grow on me as I continued to eat it.  My friend had a basic field green salad with caraway croutons and blue cheese that she said was just okay and a little plain but she loved her roast chicken entree.  We each had one glass of pinot noir and skipped dessert as we were so tired from the long travel day and it was pretty late.  Service was impeccable and the atmosphere was lovely so I would definitely eat here again if staying in or near Calistoga. The bar area was large and lively as well.

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Fig Salad at Solbar
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Pork tenderloin with tamarind glaze

Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil

The next day we had a late lunch scheduled at the Restaurant at the Auberge du Soleil Hotel in Rutherford after our private tasting at Hall Winery.  The Auberge is a beautiful 5 star luxury boutique hotel that sits high on a hill overlooking the Valley.  It’s designed in a country French style and reminded me of a small chateau farmhouse in Provence.

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Pumpkin display in the lobby of the hotel
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View of the Valley from the restaurant parking lot – rain was moving in

Due to the inclement weather, we couldn’t enjoy their gorgeous outdoor terrace that overlooked the Valley but the interior of the Auberge restaurant is equally lovely with a large wood burning fireplace, massive rough hewn wooden beams and large picture windows so we could still enjoy the cloudy view.

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Interior of Auberge Restaurantr
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View from our banquette table
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It stopped raining for a few minutes so I ran outside to snap some pics of their patio and views

Their lunch and brunch menu is a 3 course option of appetizer, entree and dessert and includes a glass of house champagne or mimosa at $70 per person.  Service was perfect during the entire meal and it was very well paced for a relaxing, leisurely lunch.  I started with their pumpkin soup with cocoa nibs, fromage blanc and pepitas, which paired well with the glass of champagne. My entree was their roasted Sonoma chicken on a bed of fennel, chestnuts and quince. This was some of the juiciest and most tender chicken I have ever had. For dessert I had their poached pears with an olive oil sponge cake and ricotta ice cream that was light, fresh and well balanced.  I couldn’t have been happier with this meal.

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Auberge lunch/brunch menu
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Bread and scones served with soft butter and a house made lemon curd
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Pumpkin soup
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Roasted Sonoma Chicken
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Dessert of poached pears and olive oil sponge cake

After lunch we asked the front desk if we could see a room but unfortunately they were booked solid but they were nice enough to give us a property key card so we could walk around and check out the pool and grounds.  I have to say that as much as I enjoyed the modernity of the Solage, I preferred the rustic country French design of the Auberge and would love to stay there during another visit with my husband as it does seem more suited to couples.

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From the pool area, looking back up towards the main hotel reception and restaurant
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Sculpture on property

Farmstead Restaurant at Longmeadow Ranch

Our last reservation was for dinner at Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch located in St. Helena.  The restaurant is located in what appears to be an old home that has been converted into a restaurant.  As is common in Napa, the interior featured lots of natural woods, large windows and tall beamed ceilings reminiscent of a barn.  We were seated right away and began perusing the menu, which I would describe as a new American/wine country farm-to-table concept focused on fresh, local ingredients in season.

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Interior of Farmstead
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Very dark in the restaurant but super cozy

Our server was very friendly and helpful and brought me two samples of wine when I couldn’t decide between a pinot noir and a GSM blend.  I started with the steak tartare that was beautifully presented with the egg still in its shell which I poured onto the meat and mixed together to have on toast points.

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Steak tartare

My next course was a special of potato gnocchi with roasted turnips  and local sauteed greens that was the right mix of soft pillowy gnocchi and bitter greens with sweetness added from the squash.I almost licked my plate clean.

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Gnocchi with turnips and greens
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Beignets and caramel sauce

For our last course we decided to split an order of freshly made beignets with a spicy caramel dipping sauce.

There are so many wonderful restaurants in Napa.  On a return trip, I’d love to try and snag a lunch reservation at the French Laundry if possible but I know we will need a hotel concierge to assist with that reservation!  Other restaurants to try are Mustard’s Grill in Oakville, Gott’s Roadside burger stand in St. Helena for a casual meal and the Greystone Restaurant at the Culinary Institute.

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