Saturday, September 5, 2015

Dinner at Auberge du Soleil

On a recent trip to Napa Valley, my husband and I decided to check out the Michelin-starred restaurant, Auberge du Soleil. In addition to the amazing views that summertime dining on the terrace provides, the menu showcases local ingredients prepared with Mediterranean flair by Chef Robert CurryIt was our first night in town and we had big plans for touring and tasting on the following day. We arrived for an early alfresco dinner at 6:15pm on the covered terrace overlooking the lush resort grounds with the expectation that our multi-course meal would keep us there until sunset.

The dinner options at Auberge feature a choice of either a three course meal for $110 or four courses for $130. You can also add an extra gourmet touch to your dinner with extravagant add-ons like caviar with all the traditional garnishes, fresh truffles to top your entrees or an extra course of cheese for an extra fee. There is a Chef's selection menu with optional wine pairings as well. I ordered the self-chosen three courses and my husband ordered four with the understanding that we would be sharing the dessert. We decided to choose our own wine by the glass instead of getting a bottle.

Before our meal arrived, we were treated to an amuse bouche of the chef's choice, a small shot of garden fresh goodness. Based on our orders and on the occasion, a glass of California bubbles seemed in order, Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs North Coast 2011 sparkling wine was my husband's immediate choice and I agreed. The extensive by-the-glass wine list, overseen by wine director Kris Margerum, features over 40 wines, so, finding an individualized perfect pairing for each course is possible for just about everyone.

For my dinner, I chose the white corn soup with Maine rock crab garnished with chervil oil, it was a decadent bowl of creamy, summer sweetness. My next course was the heirloom tomato risotto with wild gulf shrimp and a bacon yuzu emulsion, also creamy and rich with perfectly cooked shrimp. I enjoyed a different glass of California bubbles with my second course, the Roederer Estate Brut Rosé from Anderson Valley, a non-vintage sparkling blend, my husband did the same. My final official course was the local Liberty Farm duck with apricots served next to an endive salad with Marcona almonds and chamomile. I ordered a glass of the recommended 2011 Siduri "Rosella's" Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot NoirI ate all the salad and shared half of my duck with my husband who ranked it one of the most well-prepared that he had ever had, I also made sure to sample his main course. The portions were generous so it was easy to be, as well. 

My husband opted for the poached Maine lobster with watermelon and cherry tomato with yuzukosho and red mustard for his second course. I was jealous of his choice as soon as it arrived, fortunately, he shared a bite. It was as fresh, light and tasty as the photo in the slideshow below suggests. Next, he enjoyed the sautéed northern halibut with garden beans in a bacon and basil broth. He cleaned the plate in record time and I did not get a taste. For his main course, he selected the bacon wrapped veal served with fried chanterelles and caramelized shallots with a white corn cream sauce. I shared several bites of his veal, it was nicely caramelized on the outside yet tender and prepared to order. He decided to go to Burgundy for his wine for this course and ordered a glass of the 2010 Domaine Tollot-Beaut Bourgogne Rouge. 

Before our shared dessert course arrived, we were each surprised with a simple spoonful of berry goodness, a nice choice by the chef as it differed from our own order of coconut cream with salted almonds, chocolate sorbet and almond praline; the flavor of this dish was reminiscent of an Almond Joy candy bar. I had an espresso while he enjoyed cappuccino.

By the time we were prepared to leave, the sun had set. The panoramic vineyard view was lost under the soft hazy light of the half moon. After a long day of travel, the Auberge had been the perfect place to sit back, relax and be perfectly served while taking in a beautiful view while simply enjoying the fact that we were there. I would highly recommend this restaurant for a romantic evening out in Napa Valley, Excellent service, innovative top quality cuisine in a peaceful atmosphere with expansive views. It is the perfect setting to begin or end any trip in California's premium wine country.



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