Just east of St. Helena, Meadowood's fine-dining restaurant juxtaposes refined taste against the raw natural beauty of the surroundings..
Nestled in a stand of trees at the end of a long drive, Meadowood's signature restaurant has a secluded, lodge-like feel--stone hearth, thick-beamed rafters, views of the forest-blanketed Mayacama Mountains--but the ruggedness belies the extraordinary refinement of the service and delicate artistry of the kitchen. Each linen-draped table is attended to by a cadre of servers, who take the time to describe the origins of each ingredient on the plate or glass of wine (often sourced from a neighboring garden or vineyard if not the Meadowood property itself) while smoothing out even imperceptible ruffles for guests. Chef Christopher Kostow, who's garnered two Michelin stars for The Restaurant, offers an elegant 10-course tasting menu that's at turns rarefied, playful, sensual and sophisticated: a seared cube of foie gras with grape and peanut; pine-cured ocean trout with olive oil ice cream and artichoke; a paper-thin sheet of smoked toro speckled with osetra caviar and cream fraiche. Of course, Napa Valley is studded with multi-starred, nationally known restaurants, especially this close to Yountville, but this one's not far from French Laundry--in either sense of the word.
TIRED FOOD, POOR VALUE. Meadowood is an "exclusive" hotel / resort / spa / restaurant, but my experiences there are that the only thing "exclusive" are the high prices and lack of value. The food in the restaurant is little more than tired hotel food that went out of style 15 years ago. It's not particularly inventive, and it's not particularly tasty. The decor / ambience still looks like you stepped back in time to the early 1980s -- even though it's gone through a renovation. The wine list is interesting because it's got a lot of hard to find wines (Amuse Bouche, Screaming Eagle, etc.), but the whole list is overpriced. Pass on dining at Meadowood, even if you're staying there as a guest -- there are at least 20 other places in the Napa Valley I'd recommend.
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