Sunday, September 7, 2014

étoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon

As the only fine dining restaurant within a winery in Napa Valley, étoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon epitomizes the very best that wine country dining has to offer.  étoile’s unique position within a winery allows daily collaboration between the culinary team and Domaine Chandon’s winemakers, resulting in innovative, wine-inspired cuisine.

Image via Domain Chandon
During our day trip to the wineries, I knew in advance that I wanted to dine at this Michelin star restaurant.  We decided a long lunch would be most appropriate and fit in well with our touring schedule.  When we arrived, the entrance and parking lot were so grand.  I was expecting a much smaller restaurant, but the interior was quite large with a lovely patio outside overlooking the gardens.  Naturally, we asked to sit outside to enjoy the beautiful day.

While Domain Chandon is most known for their sparkling wines, they also make other varieties.  But how could we resist the bubbles!  We ordered a glass of étoile Brut. This elegant and classic wine has tiny bubbles to elevate an attractive bouquet of ginger and brown spice. The website describes: "Appealing baked apple, honey and cinnamon flavors meld seamlessly with nutty caramel flavors gained from extended sur lees aging. The creamy and seamless structure combined with balanced acidity carries these flavors through the lingering finish."  This wine paired perfectly with the seafood choices we made for lunch.  We also tried a glass of Chandon Rosé that was creamy and seductive, with defined structure from the addition of still Pinot Noir at tirage.

The menu changes daily, and frankly, I may have been enjoying myself a little too much (read: buzzed) that I didn't take any notes of what we ordered exactly.  And not everything is listed on their website menus.  So, I hope my lack of in-depth descriptions will be overlooked by the pretty pictures.

First, we ordered a half dozen oysters that were served with a light mignonette.  Knowing that champagne and oysters are a perfect pair, and being envious of Keith's obvious joy when he ate these sea creatures, I jumped off that ledge and tried one.  I tasted salt water and onion.  It was not slimy nor chewy.  In fact, they were pretty smooth and just fantastic with the sparkling wine.  

Next, Keith excitedly wanted to try the Poached Egg with Caviar.  Served with bellinis, this dish was a bit too creamy and rich for me.  Keith, on the other hand, adored this decadent dish.

One dish that stood out to me was the Moroccan Spiced Octopus with page tangerines, petite radish, puffed quinoa, and crystalline.  This dish was exciting, with so many textures and spices that danced in my mouth.  Another stellar dish that paired expertly with the Brut.

For my main dish, I chose the Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut.  There were some vegetables underneath that I can't quite remember and a clam nage.  What I do remember was how meaty and solid this piece of fish was.  It was cooked skillfully, and was a very satisfying dish. 

Keith ordered the Liberty Farm Duck with fennel and rival apricot.  His plate looked like an art sculpture, and tasted just as refined.  

Though we didn't really need any dessert, we were intrigued by the Chocolate Marquise offering.  We were even more seduced by the taste - chocolate, hazelnut, apricot, pomegranate, and plum.  Another stunning dish that really ended our meal on a high note.

The dessert was paired with a glass of dessert wine.  It was incredibly sweet.  Just a tiny shot would have been enough for me, yet we each drank a full glass.  Looking back, I would not have finished the wine since we still had another winery to visit.  Nevertheless, we had an amazing meal at étoile.  Although the price tag was quite hefty, especially for lunch, the innovative cuisine paired with award-winning wines and sophisticated surroundings set the stage for an ultimate wine and food experience.  If you plan on visiting étoile, allow at least 2 - 3 hours to enjoy the full service.

Total Rating: 4.7
Food: 5, Price: 3.5, Service: 5, Ambience: 5, Accessibility: 5
What Micky Eats...

What I ate:
Moroccan Spiced Octopus
with page tangerines, petite radish, puffed quinoa, and crystalline

Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut

Chocolate Marquise
with hazelnut, apricot, pomegranate, and plum

Plus Keith ate:

Poached Egg with Caviar

Liberty Farm Duck
with fennel and rival apricot

étoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon on Urbanspoon

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