USA- The Restaurant at Meadowood- ✪✪✪

Deep in the gorgeous Napa Valley is Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn's gorgeous Restaurant at Meadowood. With a country-library feel to its interior and a spotless 3-star experience, Meadowood is worth an evening's visit... or 10. 

 The Restaurant at Meadowood Exterior

The Restaurant at Meadowood Exterior

NAPA, CA, USA

SERVICE: 8.5/10

FOOD: 8.5/10

PRICE PAID: $290 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)

VALUE/MONEY: 8.5/10

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10

 Christopher Kostow

Christopher Kostow

Though a bit notorious for the price tag of its Chef's Counter menu, I found Meadowood to be a tasteful and disciplined execution of French-inspired American cuisine that didn't overwhelm with snoot.

Christopher Kostow has held the three-star rating at Meadowood since 2011, and won the James Beard award for best chef of the West in 2013. 

With a diverse career that has taken him to France as well as up and down California, Christopher has worked alongside such greats as Daniel Humm and Elizabeth Daniel. 

 Main Lobby

Main Lobby

Though low-lit (and hence not terribly photogenic), the lobby of the restaurant has roaring fireplaces, cozy chairs, and bookcases built into the walls with books piled high. A lovely space to kill thirty minutes before beginning the meal. 

 Place Setting- Stone + Flowers

Place Setting- Stone + Flowers

Our greeting once reaching tableside was this beautiful bouquet of dried flowers, hand picked from nearby fields. A lovely sandstone tablet, which appeared absurdly heavy, loomed on our table. 

 First Bites: "Chips + Dip," 8/10

First Bites: "Chips + Dip," 8/10

"Our version of chips and dip." Fried veggies from their own proprietary garden. Bright bell pepper flavors, and a very crunchy chip. Very tart. Cream cheese with strong sour cream flavors, and tastes of fermented red pepper. This is a strongly-flavored dish to start with! 8/10.

 1st Course: Fermented Kohlrabi + Shinjuku Oyster, 8/10

1st Course: Fermented Kohlrabi + Shinjuku Oyster, 8/10

The first course was an icy broth of fermented kohlrabi with strongly-flavored Shinjuku oysters. The cold temperature was a very pleasant surprise. 8/10.

 2nd Course: Cherry Tomato Dashi, 8/10

2nd Course: Cherry Tomato Dashi, 8/10

 Savory Plant Butter

Savory Plant Butter

A savory, briny Tobago dish: cherry tomato broth with geoduck (an enormous mollusk), clam, and nasturtium. Accompanied by a lovely yellow-green plant butter to the side. 8/10.

 3rd Course: Abalone + Matsutake Pine Mushrooms 9/10

3rd Course: Abalone + Matsutake Pine Mushrooms 9/10

My first experience with Matsutake Pine mushrooms, together with a smooth broth. The Matsutake have a nice even spice to them that really stands out. Fascinating ingredients and a well-constructed dish. 9/10 

 4th Course: Daylily + Prawn + Caviar, 9/10

4th Course: Daylily + Prawn + Caviar, 9/10

A gorgeous presentation of daylilies from garden, with caviar and prawn. Rich and salty, beautiful to look at and even better to taste. 9/10.

5th Course: Halibut + Squash, 7/10

 Fermented Squash in lemon getup

Fermented Squash in lemon getup

Next, some halibut caught on Ocean Beach near San Francisco with grilled, fermented squash meant to look like squeezable lemons. Beautifully presented but a bit dry, actually. 7/10. 

 6th Course: Duck Tea, 8/10

6th Course: Duck Tea, 8/10

A savory, refreshing duck tea to prep us for the protein main. 8/10.

 7th Course: Lamb + Marigold + Plum, 9/10

7th Course: Lamb + Marigold + Plum, 9/10

 Plum + Marigold Sauce Applied

Plum + Marigold Sauce Applied

The main show was this gorgeous and colorful morsel of dry-aged rack of lamb with a marigold and plum coating applied after service. Big, bold fruit and flower flavors punch through- a very good main. 9/10.

 8th Course: Goat's Cheese + Grape Plant Cutting, 9/10

8th Course: Goat's Cheese + Grape Plant Cutting, 9/10

A classic follow-up of cheese- in this case Goat's cheese and a beautiful grape plant cutting. 9/10.

 9th Course: Fig + Olive Oil, 10/10

9th Course: Fig + Olive Oil, 10/10

Most definitely my favorite course of the evening, both for the gorgeous colors and presentation as well as the unbelievable texture and taste- olive oil and fig. Cold yogurt beneath the figs; chocolate flavors throughout. I could eat fifty of these. 10/10

 10th Course: Grilled Date + Walnut Oil, 8/10

10th Course: Grilled Date + Walnut Oil, 8/10

Not that I had ever wondered what hommos ice cream tastes like, but after this dish I feel confident that I know. 8/10.

 11th Course: "The Garden, Candied," 9/10

11th Course: "The Garden, Candied," 9/10

A social-media-ready dish of candied vegetables and chocolate. They pick whatever is fresh, candy it, and coat it in sugar. Very fun, and who would have thought that candied carrot makes a good dessert? 9/10. 

 12th Course: Chocolate Babka, 9/10

12th Course: Chocolate Babka, 9/10

Finally: a large, rich selection of chocolate babka, an interestingly holiday-oriented choice to finish off a late-summer menu. 9/10.