I had the pleasure of dining at Meadowood in St. Helena with my good friend Leigha Goetz, who happens to work at the restaurant. Meadowood has a very modern take on California cuisine in the Valley. They use big, bold flavors that are clean and sophisticated. I think there is much future for Meadowood to be one of the best restaurants in Napa.
Pillow with Flowers from the Garden
This was a little crispy pocket of fromage blanc and goat cheese mousse. It had a delicate crust and the cheese popped and oozed in your mouth. It was an ideal “one-biter.”
Baby Radishes in “Soil”
This was one of my favorite bites. The “dirt” they make is from dehydrated rye bread and it lightly coats the radish. The raw radish with the salty, caraway crumbs tasted earthy and natural.
Potato Puree, Herb Gelée, Crispy Potato Chips, and Potato Espuma with Ostera Caviar
A layered abundance of potato. I loved the crispy potato chips layered in between the smooth puree. The herb gelée had a nice contrast of bitterness from watercress and was topped with a briny kumamoto oyster and ostera caviar.
Hamachi with Braised Salsify, Salsify Mousse, Smoked Char Roe, Smoked Sesame Gelée, Radish, Miners lettuce
This was an interesting dish . The soft hamachi was lightly coated in the smoked sesame gelée giving it a silky, viscous texture. The salsify was slightly undercooked and I think it could have used some salt, maybe some Maldon sea salt.
Wagyu Carpaccio, Hamachi, Sea Beans, Ostera Caviar, Pickled Kohlrabi
This was one of the most beautiful dishes of the evening. I love the concept of a raw surf and turf with the Wagyu beef and raw hamachi. The sea beans offered a crunchy, salty, bite and gave the dish a nice contrast to the smooth meat and fish. The pickled kohlrabi was barely acidic and also crunchy which was well-balanced with the hamachi.
Sweetbread Cannelloni, Truffle Broth, Puffed Farro
The soft cannelloni was filled with savory, soft sweetbreads and was complemented by crunchy, fried sweetbreads. The fried sweetbreads reminded me of fried chicken or a chicken nugget. A really luxurious, indulgent chicken nugget. Topped with black truffles, it just reeked of earthiness. The broth was rich and intensely flavored of truffles.
Broccoli Soup, Scrambled Egg Espuma
The greenest soup I’ve ever seen and was amazingly light and tasted bright.
Giant Humboldt Squid, Quail Egg, Romanesco Stalk, Spot Prawn
Having squid in California is such a treat because it’s so fresh, clean, and tender. I loved the way they cooked squid by cross-hatching the squid and getting it crispy and light on the outside. The squid was an amazingly delicate. The spot prawns were firm and sweet and just barely cooked.
Foie Gras and Apple 4 Ways
The foie gras was presented in many different ways to showcase how diverse of an ingredient it can be. The best component of the dish was the crab apple and foie gras. The sweet and soft apple was literally stuffed with cured foie gras. It was accompanied by truffled apple compote. I loved the contrast of the sweet apple with the creamy and decadent liver.
Molten Parmesan Tortellini, Lemon Peel Puree, Castelvetrano Olive Tapenade, Crispy Artichokes, tomato confit, artichoke broth
This reminded me of the truffle explosion at Alinea. The tortellini was filled with liquid parmesan that bursts in your mouth. Crispy, fried artichokes and salty olives counterpart the soft and molten liquid pasta.
Lobster, Butternut Squash Espuma, Vadouvan Tuile
This was a very modern take on some classic pairings. We have all seen lobster paired with butternut squash and we have all seen squash paired with curry. In this tasting we had the sweet, firm lobster with the foamy and light butternut squash espuma. Vadouvan is a spice similar to curry and it gives the curry a musky and smoky flavor.
Goat Loin Poached in Whey, Goat shank, Goat Cheese
The goat had a very gamey taste, similar to lamb but the flavor was more pungent and pronounced. It was extremely tender and cooked to a nice medium rare. The goat cheese added a tang and light creaminess which contrasted nicely to the intense goat flavor.
Baby Suckling Pig, Tenderloin with Bacon, Pork Confit, Rack, Brussel Sprouts
An ode to the baby pig. This plate is similar to something we might do at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Bacon wrapped tenderloin, pork confit, and rack of pork. All the meat was surprisingly sweet and very tender. The tenderloin was wrapped in crisp bacon that added nice smokiness and an extra layer of fat. The pork confit was tender but it could have been moister with some more fat. The rack of pork was moist and sweet. I literally gnawed on the bone to get all the juicy meat off.
Onion Crusted Bavette with Variations of Mustards and Onions
The steak appeared to be cooked to a beautiful medium-rare, however, it was a little tough. It was artistically adorned with mustard seeds and mustard flowers and was one of the prettiest plates of the evening. The spring onion it was served with was undercooked and cold. I wish there could have been some soft puree to contrast the hearty piece of meat.
Squab with Carrot Puree, Pistachio Paste, Candied Tangerine Peel, Cocoa Nib Torchon
The squab was tender with crispy, salty skin and a moist, rare interior. Squab is a very fickle bird and it has to be cooked with finesse. The succulent meat was served with a sweet carrot puree and it played a sweet and salty duet in your mouth.
Robiola, Guanciale, Almond Tuile, Spice Poached Prunes
You can’t go wrong with a big hunk of creamy, pungent Robiola cheese. It was ripened so the cheese was just becoming oozy and gooey. The fatty, salty guanciale paired with the poached prunes and it was like eating maple flavored bacon topped with velvety Italian cheese.
Stilton Cheesecake, Port Cherries, Port Wine Reduction
For having such a modern and contemporary menu, this dish was surprisingly classic. Stilton with cherries and port can’t be beat. The creamy cheesecake was topped with a line layer of gelée that melted in mouth. The acid in the port wine reduction and cherries added sweetness and distinction with the creamy, salty, pungent cheesecake.
Lemon Curd with Variations of Citrus and Pistachio
It tasted like key lime pie, just smaller and more acidic. It’s very refreshing and cleansing when the pre-dessert (amuse) has a lot of citrus and acidic notes. It prepares your palate for the rich indulgence to follow.
Dark Chocolate Custard, Smoke Huckleberry Espuma, Bay Leaf Ice Cream
The most interesting component of this dish was the smoked huckleberry espuma and surrounding the custard was a thin, crispy ring of tuile that tasted of pure smoke. The bay leaf ice cream was smooth and creamy, as any ice cream should be but had the floral characteristic of the bay leaves.
White Chocolate Foie Gras Ganache, Poached & Caramelized Banana, Black Walnut, Passionfruit
Definitely interesting. The ganache did not taste like foie gras but its intense richness indicated there was something more going on besides white chocolate. I loved the creamy decadence of the ganache against the frozen, pulverized banana.
Meadowood is a great restaurant that uses many modern techniques and ingredients while still staying to true the regional and seasonal cuisine of California. I can’t wait to go back during the harvest bounty in the fall to see what they’re doing next.