Bardessono Restaurant, Yountville, California
Local seasonal ingredients are used whenever possible in Executive Chef Sean O’Toole’s exquisite menu featuring dishes highlighted as “Field & Forest,” “Ocean,” and “Pasture & Range.” Seven entrees are offered under each of these three categories in small or whole portions. A six course market tasting menu is available with or without paired wines ($130 or $85). Sustainable, organic and biodynamic products—many from the gardens on site—are used whenever available.
We opted for the paired tasting menu and were immediately served a muse bouche of cold split pea soup with olive oil served in a tiny espresso cup. A muse bouche, translated from the French, is something meant to “amuse your mouth,” hence what we might call an appetizer. However, this was not just any appetizer but a tiny, complimentary one that was meant to heighten our anticipation for what was to come, a little “tease from the chef.”
Next I was served the Nou Vang Farm Eggplant salad featuring chu chu eggplant, pickled onions, aromatic salad, hass avocado and croutons of crispy jasmine rice. My wife had the Bruin Farm Tomato Salad served with heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, Lucy’s Garden (grown on site) basil, and Sparow Lane balsamic vinegar. Sharing every dish, we were able to compare notes and comments on our likes and preferences. We both voted the tomato salad was the winner in this round. Our glass of Frogs Leap Sauvignon Blanc was magnificent with its grassy flavor, so perfect for our first course.
My wife was served the Potato Gnocchi for her second course. This dish featured Sierra porcini mushrooms, summer herb sauce and parmigiano-reggiano. Normally not a big fan of gnocchi (something about the thought of eating balls of dough), we found this dish to be much lighter and delicate than some of the gnocchi we’ve eaten elsewhere. I had the Trophie Pasta served with Bruin Farm tomatoes, summer truffle, basil flower, vella dry jack cheese, and Regina extra virgin olive oil. As a pasta dish, it was flavorful and fresh, and would have made an excellent choice for a luncheon entrée. Here it became lost in the abundance of offerings we were being served. The 2007 Newton Chardonnay, however, was delightful with its subtle oakiness and fragrant bouquet—a superb choice.
The third wine served at our table was a 2008 Capio Sonoma Pinot Noir, a hearty red that led us to expect a hearty meat course. However, we were surprised to find we were served two dishes from the ocean. My wife sampled the Wild King Salmon accompanied by Hill Family farm squash, tempura blossom, summer truffle, heirloom basil, and green tomato jus. The salmon was the overall winner for the evening! It was moist, delicate, and perfectly delightful. The tempura was a nice touch and added interest to the plate. I had Maine Diver Scallops served with Iacopi Farm English peas, sweet red carrots, pearl onions, little gems lettuce, and something called pork belly lardoons which was a type of bacon with a little bit of fat left on. Overall, the scallops, though tasty, did not stand out as much as the salmon. I appreciated the effort at combining locally grown produce, but even those delicacies failed to impress as other items.
The next course began with a very tasty wine from Tuscany, a Traviti (Three Vines) Barberi, somewhat akin to a pinot noir. This was my favorite red of the evening, while the chardonnay was my favorite white. My wife was served the Liberty Farm Duck roasted breast, accompanied by sweet yellow corn, pearl onions, morel mushrooms, smoked duck confit and pepper sauce. I had the Cal-King Squab roasted breast, served with Her Farm daikon radish, white nectarine chutney, spice nem ran (in appearance, like an egg roll) and squab jus. Both dishes were attractive, creative and appealing but uninspiring in the palate. Of the two, I’d say we favored the duck course over the bland squab.
For the dessert course we were each brought a pair of dessert wines, one a tokay and another a Black Forest Port. Sweet wines are something I don’t usually enjoy, yet we both tasted the offerings and found them enjoyable, although beyond what we could handle. I wanted something of chocolate from the menu, so I chose the Black Forest Tart with Guanaja chocolate, Gotelli Farm bing cherries, kirsch Chantilly, and cherry ice cream. My wife opted for the Williams Farm Strawberry Vacherin served with crisp meringue, tellicherry peppercorn, vanilla Chantilly, and vincotto. The dessert portions were presented with elegance and enjoyed with gusto!
Restaurant seating is available indoors as well as outdoors with a view of the courtyard. We chose to sit indoors by huge open windows overlooking patrons seated outside where they dined under outdoor propane patio heaters that kept them cozy in the Napa Valley evening air. The selection of jazz music played that evening was a little distracting and the Euro-disco driven beat was not the smooth style I would have preferred. The service, however, was prompt, and the level of knowledge by the staff was superb. Each dish, as it was brought out, was presented professionally and explained thoroughly.
As to be expected, Bardessono offers an extensive wine menu and serves a variety of other alcoholic beverages as well. The menus for dinner and dessert surely have something to please anyone. Personally, it would be interesting to go back and try a completely different series of menu items. There are a number of exotic ocean offerings (such as Monterey Shellfish featuring “a la grecque” calamari, octopus, prawn, summer vegetable salad and E.V.O.O.) as well as Marin Sun Farm Beef petite filet, a glazed short rib served with macaroni-n-cheese gratin, New Zealand spinach, and summer truffle. Perhaps I’ll have to return one day to see what else may turn up on the menu!
6526 Yount Street
Yountville, CA 94599
Hotel Reservations: (877) 932-5333
Restaurant Reservations: (707) 204-6030
Spa Reservations (707) 204-6050