Review: The Restaurant at Meadowood.

Of course I had to do it big for Tommaso’s 25th birthday!

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m a girl that loves to dine out for any and every special occasion. Over the past five years with Tommaso, we’ve had some pretty amazing meals together which also include his birthday dinners. Back in 2013 we dined at Il Convivio Troiani (one Michelin star in Rome), Il Palagio in 2014 (one Michelin star in Florence), Enoteca Pinchiorri in 2015 (three Michelin stars in Florence), Mourad in 2016 (one Michelin star in San Francisco), and SingleThread in 2017 (two Michelin stars in Healdsburg). Since I’ve been to almost every fine dining restaurant here in San Francisco, I wanted to take him to The Restaurant at Meadowood, a three Michelin starred modern American restaurant in Saint Helena up in wine country.

The Restaurant at Meadowood has a 2.5 acre culinary garden with various seasonal crops that are emphasized in their $275 tasting menu. Chef Christopher Kostow showcases these beautiful plants with special ingredients from food artisans to meld together a culinary story that’s personal. Over the summer we dined at chef Christopher Kostow’s new casual restaurant, The Charter Oak, and absolutely loved the food so we were excited to try his fine dining restaurant.

Somehow the staff knew that both Tommy and I work in the hospitality industry and were kind enough to pour a few beverages for us.

Champagne Greeting.

We started off the meal with several small bites.

Fresh Field Peas (7/10).

These vibrant peas from their garden were slightly sautéed in olive oil and wrapped in a thin “pea” crepe. A burst of herbaceous freshness.

Sunchoke Beignet (8/10).

A delicious interpretation of a beignet resembling a sunchoke. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside.

Tomales Bay Oysters with Kohlrabi Mignonette (8/10).

Crisp briny oysters with a refreshing kohlrabi mignonette. Simple but satisfying.

Eel Smoked over Cabernet Staves (8.5-9/10).

The smoked eel was perfectly cooked, tender and soft, and was wrapped with a thin layer of beef tongue and crispy nori. A perfect bundle of goodness.

Inside the Eel.

Beans and White Sturgeon Caviar (8/10).

A creamy cranberry purée lay underneath the red beans and white sturgeon caviar. The saltiness of the caviar with the delicateness of the beans harmonized together but I found it odd that the dish was cold.

Dungeness Crab with Local Almond and Crab Oil (6.5-7/10).

While the crab was nicely cooked, I found the dish slightly bland. I didn’t taste the almond milk flavor or the crab oil.

Salted Mackerel with Vegetable Escabeche (8.5-9/10).

The mackerel was pickled and lightly grilled, still slightly raw in the middle, topped with various winter brassicas with a beautiful escabeche sauce that’s been fortified with kale juice. It was one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Roasted Cauliflower Seasoned with Abalone with Polenta (8/10).

Since I’m not a fan of mushrooms, they made me a roasted cauliflower dish that’s been seasoned with abalone, giving it a rich flavor with creamy polenta underneath.

Matsutake Mushroom Seasoned with Abalone with Polenta.

Since Tommy loves mushrooms, he had no problem having the intended dish of the tasting menu.

Roasted Cabbage Cod with Cod Roe Sabayon and Kimchi Powder (9/10).

Another highlight of the meal. The tender smoked black cod was cut into the shape of wedge of cabbage with a piece of savoy cabbage on the outside part of the fish. So clever. The airy yet luscious cod roe sabayon went so well with the cod making just a delicious flavorful dish.

Poussin Baked in Bread.

Poussin, or baby chicken, is cooked in this herb sourdough bread and presented at the table. What’s funny is that a version of this dish was submitted to In Situ so I’ve seen some of my chefs at work testing out the recipe.

Poussin Broth (8/10).

Before receiving the poussin meat, we had a very beautiful consommé that was warming and so flavorful.

Poussin in Bread with Onion and Nasturtium (8.5/10).

The poussin thigh and breast were incredibly tender and supple with a nasturtium vinaigrette and confit onions on top. The bread that the poussin is cooked in is also served on the side.

Aged Wagyu Beef Tartare with Nori and Black Trumpet Mushrooms (6.5-7/10).

The final savory course slightly confused me. I thought “why would they serve a tartare at the end of the meal?” Sure it was wagyu beef so its naturally fatty, extremely flavorful, and rich but I would have much rather preferred a piece of seared wagyu beef. The tartare was sitting in a brodo or broth that was slightly odd with the tartare with a thin jelly like film on top. Overall I wasn’t a fan of this dish.

Beeswax Candle Surprise…

Half way through the meal, one of the servers replaced our candle with this large candle. I thought “wow that’s strange, the first candle was completely fine!” but little didn’t I know that a fun surprise was awaiting us.

Our Cheese Course.

The candle is split in half and the cheese is served from the bottom of the candle. While we were enjoying the other dishes and the candle was burning, the cheese was tempering to become the right creamy consistency. So cool!

Cremeux des Citeaux Cheese with Black Truffle.

Cremeux des Citeaux Cheese over Honeycomb (8.5/10).

This triple crème cow’s cheese from France is rich and earthy and with the sweet sticky honeycomb underneath it was heavenly. They also served some buttered rye bread on the side.

Sourdough Rye Bread with the Cheese Course.

Gravenstein Cider.

This gorgeous carafe was filled with spiced gravenstein apple cider to be served with our first dessert course.

Gravenstein Cider with Black Apple Jam Donuts (8.5/10).

These pillowy donuts were stuffed with an intense black apple jam and were scrumptiously delicious.

Parsnip and Caramelized Whey Tart with White Truffle Ice Cream (9/10).

This dessert was right up my alley since I’m not the biggest chocolate lover. This beautiful little tart was filled with a parsnip cream as well as small pieces of parsnip and caramelized whey. The silky smooth white truffle ice cream just topped off an already delicious dessert.

Cocoa Nib Boulevardier.

Compliments to the staff for this taste of their homemade cocoa nib boulevardier.

Petit Fours of Preserved Fruits (8/10).

A great way to end the tasting menu with a boulevardier to sip on.

Birthday Cake For Tommy.

After our meal we got a little tour of the kitchen.

The Kitchen.

The Kitchen.

Birthday Boy 😀

So what’s my final verdict? It’s hard to say. Over the years, I’ve dined at a handful of three Michelin starred restaurants (Osteria Francescana, Enoteca Pinchiorri, Saison, Manresa, Benu, The French Laundry) and the majority of them have dishes I absolutely love and dishes that I don’t care for as well. Did any of the dishes blow me away? Perhaps not because I’ve dined at a good amount of fine dining modern American restaurants. I do appreciate that they use seasonal produce from their own garden and their attention to detail. Service was friendly and engaging and the overall atmosphere of the restaurant was wonderful. Therefore my rating for The Restaurant at Meadowood is an 8/10.

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