Earlier this year while watching the excellent BBC programme (see the intentional British spelling?) Oz and James’ Big Wine Adventure, I was infatuated with the scenery at one particular restaurant. Situated on the side of a hill, James May and Oz Clark enjoyed fine dining while overlooking the vineyards of Napa Valley. A quick Google search revealed that it was the Auberge du Soleil, a resort/restaurant with a Michelin Star.
Luckily I was planning out a trip to Napa, so a lunch time reservation was made. Along with the French Laundry, it’d be the highlight of my Napa dining experience.
So on my first data at the Napa Valley, shortly after my first winery tour, we ascended the twisty road off Silverado Trails that lead up to the Auberge du Soleil. As the trail lead to higher elevation, the noise of the highways below us faded away, and the air became noticeably crisper. The valet greeted us at the door, and pointed us towards the restaurant.
If you’ve made a reservation during the summer months, then you’ll be lead straight to the outside dining deck. The view is simply spectacular.
To be perfectly honest, I would have paid a premium to have this type of view. Yet to my surprise, this turned out to be one of the most affordable meals during my week at Napa. With their 30th anniversary 3 course lunch prix fixe special, you can enjoy Michelin Star dining, with a spectacular view, for less than $40 per person.
The first course was a simple salad with vinaigrette. Though there’s nothing too special about the salad upon first glance, to someone familiar with East Coast ingredients, the freshness of the vegetables you get in California really makes the salad stand out.
The second course was an onion crusted halibut, which was beautifully cooked and seasoned, plated in a foamy Caraway Nage (meridian fennel liquid) consisting of Brussels Sprouts and Bacon.
Finally for dessert, a small serving of Toasted Vanilla Angelfood Cake, Strawberries and Vanilla Cream. Again, the freshness of the ingredients shined.
Back in New York, al fresco dining usually meant compromises. You either compromise the food for great views, or settle for less than ideal seating arrangements for the sake of catching some rays. I came to Auberge du Soleil for the views, and yet the food was wonderful and really impressed. Throughout the lunch we talked about coming back here next year, I can’t wait.
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