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The Restaurant at Meadowood: Dining Report

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Spectacular meal. VERY expensive. Superb, attentive service. Exquisite flavors, mostly. Seafood flown in fresh from all over the world. Use of citrus throughout. Quality glassware, appropriate for each wine. Placement of items on plate needs work. Encyclopedic wine list, surprisingly well-priced.

The specifics:

Amuse bouche of green tomato chutney atop roasted eggplant puree on toasted brioche. Wonderful green chutney. The rest non-descript.

Amuse bouche of tiny orbs of beige beets with a Meyer lemon emulsion and clear oval lemon candy (learned later this was a spiced pumpkin seed caramel, but none of those flavors came through). Tasty though.

Wine: A glass of white burgundy 2005 Blanchot Chablis Premier Cru. Lovely to drink a white burgundy instead of a New World chardonnay.

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My dining companion and I decided that the Chef’s Tasting Menu and pairings did not seem nearly as interesting as the Exotics Menu. Several items on the regular (Local Gardens) menu sounded appealing also. My companion chose the Exotics Menu; I chose two courses from the Exotics and two courses from the Local Gardens Menu.

2 bottles of wine ordered, a white and a red:
Smith Haut Lafite 2004 (Graves) $80 – A tremendous white Bordeaux with definite flavors of peach, lemon, Seville orange, eucalyptus, and deep honey. Complex, beautiful, an amazing experience.
Domaine des Comtes Lafon Volnay-Santenots 2000 ($140)– A stunning red burgundy, with cherry, plum, pomegranate, great mid-palate and depth. A fantastic wine.

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Four smallish courses ($125 per person):

First course, both from the Exotics Menu:
Scallop with scallop “tripe,”geoduck clam, periwinkles, in a “coquille” shell.
Served with a sauce of fresh wasabi root, oven-roasted lemon, chives. Pastry dough on top resembled coquille shell. This was my favorite course. Fresh, bright flavors. Matched perfectly with the white wine.

Companion’s first course was langoustines from Scotland with matsutake mushrooms and salt-cured capers. Fresh, succulent, also excellent with the wine.

Second course:
German butterball potato gnocchi with grilled surf clam (cut into strips), matsutake mushrooms, tomato confit. The gnocchi were not the dominant flavor in the dish (also, they were a bit dense rather than pillowy) but the dish had excellent flavor. From the Local Gardens Menu.

Companion: Scallop dish described above

Third course:
Cocoa-nib encrusted wild Hawaiian kampachi with Jamon Serrano, on rectangle of roasted red bell pepper. Served with a quenelle of black rice and chopped Tomales Bay clams. From the Local Gardens Menu.

Very good. The fish almost got lost with the powerful flavors of the cocoa-nib crust and jamon serrano, but the overall effect was lovely. Normally, this dish is paired by the restaurant with a white wine, which would have been lost with the cocoa-nibs, jamon and black beans. My hefty white wine got lost. The red burgundy was PERFECT. (Glad we did not order the wine pairings, as my dining companion and I have found that fixed wine pairings are often “off.”)

Companion’s third course: Holland dover sole, with grapefruit emulsion (more like a beurre blanc), creamy artichokes, pinenuts. Excellent. Grapefruit sauce and the white Bordeaux together were ecstatically wonderful. From the Exotics Menu.

Fourth course:
Kobe beef with al dente baby root vegetables with a truffled marmalade (really a thick onion compote, the truffled flavor did not come through, still quite tasty). Kobe was rare, grilled simply, buttery tender, deep beef flavor, small layer of outside fat was savory, even slightly crunchy – delicious. Exotics Menu.

Companion had same. The Volnay burgundy was fantastic with the Kobe.

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Cheese course ($25):
Old Kentucky Tomme, Capriole
Constant Bliss, Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont
Andante Aria, creamy white from Sonoma Country
Marble Sheep’s Milk with vegetable ash, Everona Dairy
Bayley Hazen Blue, also from Jasper Hill

The cheese course was disappointing: nothing at all with a “wow” factor, with a possible exception of the blue. Unimaginatively plated, just plopped on the plate in a random fashion. I expected more from a restaurant of this caliber.

But the wine was very special: a glass of the Loire late-harvest wine Quarts De Chaume “Les Varennes,”Domaine Jo Pithon 2003. Terrific, especially with the blue cheese. I think the chef should re-think the cheese selections, with more exotic and rare selections, and devise a more imaginative presentation.

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Dessert:
Apple Three-Ways (~$20):
Apple confit – very concentrated, and tart (not too sweet)
Apple spice cake – kind of a normal spice cake, nothing special except for a touch of mint
Apple sorbet, with apple foam on top – foam was exquisite and powerful, the essence of apple.

Enjoyed with a glass of Neige, an Apple Ice Wine from Canada. Very, very intense apple flavor, fantastic.

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Food Cost Total: $295 – four smallish courses for each of us, cheese plate, one dessert
Wine Total: $260
Total With Tax Before Tip: $599
Total With Tip: $749 for two persons

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