Three Michelin Star Chef Christopher Kostow, and his kitchen team are truly artists of gastronomy. Relying mostly on the local Napa Valley community sourcing ingredients from nearby farmers and their own culinary garden, the process extends to the serving accouterments. Lynn Mahon, a local potter has created a series of plates and ceramics; local woodworker Bretton Newsom has designed mignardise boxes out of indigenous walnut especially for desert presentations and the table chargers designed by Nikki Ballere Callnan resemble delicate pearly oyster shells.
We dined at the bar, which offers a petite menu, a new addition to the dinner service. Five courses rather than nine. Of course, this set menu actually translates to more, as dainty amuse bouche appear every minute! When I travel, I frequently dine at a restaurant bar, chatting with the servers gaining inside information, special spirit tastings, and extensive information for my journal. It also allows for photos without distracting others.
To begin, eight leaves, actually, stuck to four stems and seasoned with salt. Sorrels,
not my favorite, however my dining companion loved them! Although, it was an intriguing interpretation. Guests wishing to enjoy the Chef’s Counter menu may dine inside the kitchen as chef and his team prepare their meal as they look on from their seats, an extravaganza consisting of anywhere between 15 and 20 courses. The newly remodeled kitchen enhances the efficiency of the cooks who cook consistent complex dishes; each successive course wows the palate. Every serving appears as a small portrait on the artisan pottery. A delicate musical proclamation should precede each course, ta dah! The presentation contrasts of a delicate rice cracker pillow on a natural cloth tempt and delight. Nibble on a crispy, airy crust filled with creamy fromage blanc with a hint of chèvre. Served warm, it was an enticing bite setting the stage for the courses to follow.
Intricate combinations such as baby potatoes cooked in beeswax, pommes de terre, in which La Ratte potatoes are cooked ever so slowly in beeswax. The beeswax alone is $100 to $200 a pound. The beeswax imparts a honeyed flavor to the potato, while an accompanying potato puree and crispy potato bits scattered around the plate give the dish the texture of an creamy ice cream dessert. It’s exceptional, even if you don’t know the cost of beeswax.
Aged beef bite with fermented onions (see posting on Mi Casa, fermenting seems to be a trend!). No, I have not figured out the process yet. Champagne fermented baby vegetables. The wine list is almost crushing – filling 50 pages and over 1100 bottling’s. The prices range from modest to absolutely extravagant, but why not indulge? These divine dinners are not an every evening delight.
We enjoyed a private kitchen tour, a gentle announcement when we peeked in: guests in the kitchen. Intent cooks, carefully placing baby bites of herbs, all very absorbed in their task. An abundant array of labeled spices and condiments line the shelves. Busy prep cooks, yet quiet and civilized behind the large steel doors. Waiters whisked past with platters of scrumptious desserts. I love to see behind the curtain, where the magicians prepare the evening performance. Theatre at its best.
Dessert, even if you decline, is of course presented. In my case, a petite birthday cake magically unfolded from the exhibition mignardise box. A printed menu and a personal birthday note presented in a lovely custom envelope. Presentation Perfection.