Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Nov 26, 2012 08:00 AM

Best Romantic/Fine Dining Ambiance in Napa

I tried searching for the specifics I'm looking for and figured I'd start a thread for some assistance.

I'm going to be in Napa for the weekend of December 14-16 with my girlfriend and I'd like to take her to a special dinner on Saturday night. A couple concerns I had was it appears some restaurants are closed for the winter and I assume a lot of others require reservations far in advance.

I'm a big meat eater and concerned with the quality of food, obviously, but for her its more about ambiance and the setting. I'd like it to be more of an upscale dinner and setting. We'll be getting dressed up so something fairly formal is preferred. Price isnt really an issue. So any suggestions on great tasting menus or any other advice would be appreciated.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Start with the usual suspects:

    The French Laundry

    The Restaurant at Meadowood


    ├ętoile Restaurant


    Possibly La Toque, but some recents posting have mentioned dishes being over salted. I haven't been since they moved from Rutherford to the town of Napa.

    You may want to consider Press for meat but I have not been, maybe someone can chime in with thoughts.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Scott M

      La Toque is absolutely amazing ONLY when Ken Franks is actually in the kitchen. When he isn't there, everything literally falls apart. It is a wonderful contemporary space in a generic chain hotel, but in four decades of dining it is the most Jekyll-and-Hyde restaurant we've ever encountered. It was shocking because our first visit was 98% flawless, the only two errors extremely minor. The service was equally wonderful.

      Yet six months later La Toque gave us the hands-down worst meal out of six restaurants on our subsequent trip. I sent three courses out of five back, on our second visit...and I don't like to ever return a dish unless it's really, really, really bad. The young lady busing gave us better service than the waiter. The manager was embarrassed but handled it as gracefully as he could.

      The food issues on our second visit went way beyond oversalting. The fish wasn't fresh, with that tell-tale ammoniate smell. A lovely-looking palate refresher in a glass goblet tasted mostly of straight vinegar topped with salty ice chips (and I enjoy tart flavors, but not to this over-the-top degree). The lamb dish that had been perfection itself on the first visit, was absolutely awful with unbalanced flavors on the second time around. The dessert was ridiculously sweet, topped with a fresh pineapple ring so heavily glazed with brown sugar, I had a hard time cutting into it with a fork and had to use a knife instead.

      La Toque is like the "little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead" - LOL!

    2. Another thread on romantic Napa, in the forms it exists: