Napa-versary: The Restaurant at Meadowood + Meeting Chef Christopher Kostow

a house with lights on the front

***This is part 4 of my “Napa-versary” trip report detailing a recent visit to Napa Valley to celebrate our 1-year wedding anniversary***

1. Eating Napa
2. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part I – Check-In, Our Lodge
3. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part II – Resort Facilities, Activities, and Food
4. The Restaurant at Meadowood + Meeting Chef Christopher Kostow
5. Eating Sonoma

Ever since Chef Christopher Kostow took over as Executive Chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood, it’s been shooting up in the culinary world and currently is only 1 of 2 restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area with three Michelin stars (the other being The French Laundry). It’s also ranked at #80 on the (somewhat controversial) San Pellagrino “Best Restaurants in the World” list which we use as another source, but by no means the authority, on restaurant rankings.

Our dinner reservation at Meadowood wasn’t until 9:15pm, which gave us just enough time to digest from lunch and all of the snacks we had earlier in the day. Compared to The French Laundry where a significant amount of luck is needed to just get a reservation, reserving a table at Meadowood was surprisingly easy and just required booking about a month in advance.

It’s a short 10-15 minute drive from Calistoga Ranch to the Meadowood resort, which along with the restaurant, features a hotel, spa, and golf course. The resort is on a huge compound, and in the dark it was tough to follow some of the signs, but eventually we found our way to the main lobby. We peeked inside on our way to the restaurant just to take a look.

a house with lights on the front
Exterior of the lobby at Meadowood
a room with a fireplace and chairs
Lobby of Meadowood

The restaurant is located just a few steps from the hotel lobby, and we were warmly greeted at the door and shown inside. We had arrived early, so we spent a few minutes relaxing in the bar area and were seated next to the fireplace in the middle of the room which helped us warm up on this chilly night.

a fireplace in a room
Fireplace near the bar
After a few minutes we were escorted into the main dining room, which almost feels like the interior of a barn with high vaulted ceilings, and an elegant but rustic feel that is similar to what we had seen at the hotel lobby. The dining room is relatively small, with only about 10-15 tables inside. At our table, we found a nice hand-written card which welcomed us and congratulated us on our anniversary.
a ceiling with a light shade and a lamp shade
The Restaurant at Meadowood dining room
a menu on a plate
Table setting and hand-written card
Our server came by and explained that there would be no menus to look at or choose from for now – we would receive a copy only after the entire meal was completed. Apparently this is a recent change that the restaurant has made now that they feel like they’ve built a strong enough reputation. Instead of a tasting or a la carte menu, prospective diners will just need to trust that they will be fed well. We were asked if there was anything that we didn’t eat, but that was pretty much it. The rest of the meal was a surprise, with each course explained to us as it was served.
Before the main courses started, we had a series of “snacks” from the garden.
a wooden board with olives and leaves on it
a brown round object with small carrots on it
Pickled veggies from the Meadowood garden
a book with text and plants on it
Puffed kale with chorizo seasoning
Afterwards, the main dinner started, with about 10 courses served over of the next 3 hours. The food was absolutely delicious, playful, and presented in interesting and unique ways that we had never tried before. For example, potatoes that had been cooked in beeswax, chicken that had been cooked inside sourdough bread, and salmon that had the skin removed and replaced with layer of turnips.
The ingredients were extremely fresh, with most of the meats coming from local sources and the vegetables coming from the restaurant’s own garden. Everything was cooked perfectly, tasted great, and best of all didn’t feel too heavy. Service was extremely warm and friendly throughout, a far cry from the overly formal and almost robotic service that we had at Per Se.
a bowl of fruit and ice cream
Tomato, wild plum beets and creme fraiche
a bowl with green liquid and yellow flower in it
a plate of food with a flower on it
Cucmber seed risotto
a close up of food
Potatoes cooked in beeswax
a plate of food with flowers
Abalone with coal roasted eggplant
a piece of food with green sauce and white flowers
Wild salmon turnip
a bread with meat inside
food in a bowl
Poussin baked in sourdough bread
a piece of meat with mushrooms on top
Koji chanterelle beef
After the main courses it was time to move on to the cheese course, and despite the number of course we had eaten to this point, neither of us were feeling overly stuffed.. That’s certainly a good thing, since there have been times where we’ve just been too full to enjoy dessert. The cheese course was was a play on ham and cheese with lettuce playing the role of ham.
a plate of food on a table
Cheese “ham” bread
Lastly, a few desserts, including the amazing “spun” coconut with olive oil. The coconut tasted almost like a sorbet and was so simple, yet so amazingly delicious.
a white object with green leaves in a bowl
Spun coconut with olive oil
a bowl of liquid with two balls in it
Passion fruit baba shiso
a glass teapot with water and a cookie
Herbal tea
a plate with food on it
Almond prailines
a menu with text on it
Our menu

At the end of the meal, we were invited in for a quick kitchen tour, which is offered to each table individually throughout the night. The restaurant had recently completed a million-dollar kitchen renovation, and it shows. We were actually surprised how big the kitchen was, given the fact they probably don’t service more than 75-100 people in a given night.

As luck would have it, Chef Christopher Kostow walked by during our tour and we had a chance to do a brief meet and greet with him. As luck would have it I had just blogged about his partnership with the new American Express Centurion Lounge opening at SFO later this year, so I looked like I had done my homework and was able to ask him about it.

a group of people in a kitchen
Meadowood kitchen
a group of people posing for a photo
Thanks for an amazing dinner!

Overall, an amazing dining experience at The Restaurant at Meadowood. I emphasize the word  “experience”, since at most top restaurants it’s a given that the food will be delicious (and if it isn’t, that’s a whole other problem). But at Meadowood, the food is really, really delicious, and is still memorable as I write this several weeks later. The rest of the experience was top-notch and they really make you feel appreciated with everything from the hand-written notes, to the personalized service, and lastly to the individual kitchen tours.We hope to go back one day – in fact, the restaurant keeps track of the exact menu each guest has had previously to ensure that they are given an entirely new experience each and every time.


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