The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena (June 2014)

Our most recent 20-course parade of spring was without question our best meal at Meadowood yet. The property remains paradisal, and one cannot say enough good things about service.

On this visit, the food proved to be positively spellbinding. In clear defiance of the laws of probability, every offering was an overmastering delight. The subtlety that featured so prominently in previous meals was supplanted by flavors that erupted like little bottles of champagne: a sweet mound of mollusks encased in lardo, a paroxysm of pickled mustard seeds atop tender ravioli and an umami-bomb of beef and roasted porcini mushrooms.

As each plate was cleared what invariably followed was an unresolved confab as to whether it bested its predecessor.

Whether it’s academia or gastronomy, there are few things as enrapturing as watching someone at the top of their craft. Overseeing the pass, Chef Kostow grants his imprimatur to faultless plates, seemingly certain diners will be overcome with satisfaction. While still maintaining the humble disposition we first encountered back in 2012, there is an unmistakable confidence with which he ambles around the kitchen. It’s tantamount to a rapper dropping the mic after a freestyle.

And yet, even in this clime of excellence, there is a modesty that pervades the kitchen. In delivering a one inch by one inch abalone preparation, sous chef John rattled off a vertiginous number of elements—I lost count at six—before returning to his post; Dave described the elision that occurs by letting roasted guinea hen sit in a loaf of sourdough overnight; and finally there was pastry chef Matt Tinder who dropped off wedges of panettone to accompany a cocoa and date amalgam before casually noting the four-day process that went into preparing the loaf.

It’s that kind of effort that helps sustain excitation for close to three hours, and I thank the Meadowood team for a memorable birthday dinner.

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Here are all the photos from the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/82765022@N03/sets/72157645037083552

Photos from our 2013 counter menu: https://www.flickr.com/photos/82765022@N03/sets/72157634994414555/

Photos from our 2012 counter menu: https://www.flickr.com/photos/82765022@N03/sets/72157634772189797/

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2 thoughts on “The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena (June 2014)

  1. “Champagne musk” is the grossest phrase/the name of my new band.

    The marshmallow course! The sourdough poussin! Such a great-looking meal. So simple and yet obviously very NOT simple.

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