The Restaurant at Meadowood (***)

A couple of weeks ago, (been postponing this post for months…) At the end of June this last year, me and three friends went to the US for a road trip through California. Food wasn’t the main reason for the trip, but a nice bonus. So after visiting Joshua Tree, Death Valley and Yosemite, we took a break in Napa Valley.

Panamint Valley

We started the day off with some wine tasting (highlight was B Cellars  with an impressive tour, some very nice wine and ridiculously good food), took a nap from 5 till 8pm and had an epic dinner in what would end up being a new “top 3” meal for me.

I knew Napa Valley was home to Thomas Keller’s famous “The French Laundry”, but I was unable to get a reservation on a date that would match our trip. Luckily I stumbled upon another very promising restaurant which happened to have 3 michelin stars: The Restaurant at Meadowood.

I had introduced our group as four friends on a road trip, fans of all things culinary, ranging from fast food to degustation menus in fancy restaurants. When we arrived, the superb super friendly service immediately asked how our road trip was going and used the little info I gave them perfectly for some small talk that didn’t seem forced and didn’t become awkward for us shy Belgians.

Tempura of zucchini flower  / Tomato + cream cheese dip

We went for the #yolo option that is the “Chef’s Counter”.  The actual counter was occupied that night, be we would get the same menu with a small tour in the kitchen as a small break during our meal.

borage oyster leaf mignonette: getting the oyster flavor without an actual oyster
eel smoked over cabernet staves beef tongue saba

The description of the different courses will be a bit vague, since it’s been over 6 months and the info provided on the menu of the evening often was a random collection of key words for each dish (well not that random, but occasionally it seemed that way).

I do remember we were off to a good start (although the “oyster” was more cute than good… but I’m not that big an oyster fan anyways).

sun gold tomato dashi

Even the tomato dish somehow was really good. Not that I hate tomatoes, but it’s in my humble opinion not that easy to make them worth a separate course.

bread & butter
fresh beans avocado epazotte

Lots of veggies, I was getting a little bit afraid we were in for a vegetarian menu (the horror! need them proteinz for them gainz). But somehow they just all tasted awesome. Seems like they were able to use fresh, local ingredients and make them shine with flavor profiles that were completely my thing.

(I’m not sure if I used “flavor profile” correctly, but it just felt right.)

daylily prawn caviar: the flower was filled with a prawn
mackeral green apricot escabeche celery
potato cooked in beeswax sorrels
kohlrabi wild mustard vadouvan

The tasty plates kept coming and these last two were especially memorable. Taking simple ingredients and truly making them the star of the dish. One of the best potatoes ever followed by the revelation that kohlrabi actually tastes good.

abalone eggplant peppers
king salmon buckwheat
cucumbers braised in coastal grasses cod collar
halibut whey squash

After this course, we got to stretch our legs during a small tour inside the kitchen. This gave us a bit of time to get ready for the next flavor bomb:

duck tea chrystanthemum dill

Looks simple, but this duck broth was so packed with flavor.

last year’s corn foie gras

And finally we reached the “main course”:

grilled lamb marigold plum

Time for some cheese:

curds whey peaches basils

And the desserts (I mean, who has just one dessert these days, amirite?)

olive oil berries millet
bahri date walnut oil

Finish your vegetables, my momma used to say…

the garden, candied

As I spoiled earlier, definitely one of the best meals I have ever had. The service was extremely good too, so based on this meal and my preferences, definitely a top tier 3 star restaurant. However, the price was pretty top tier too, if you know what I mean…

I’m glad I experienced it once, but I think it’s going to be just the one time because of the ridiculous price. I would definitely recommend The Restaurant at Meadowood and I’m kinda glad that we didn’t manage to get a reservation at the French Laundry.

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