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.
NAPA, CA, USA
PRICE PAID: $290 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)
FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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
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.
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.
A savory, refreshing duck tea to prep us for the protein main. 8/10.
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.
A classic follow-up of cheese- in this case Goat's cheese and a beautiful grape plant cutting. 9/10.
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
Not that I had ever wondered what hommos ice cream tastes like, but after this dish I feel confident that I know. 8/10.
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.
Finally: a large, rich selection of chocolate babka, an interestingly holiday-oriented choice to finish off a late-summer menu. 9/10.