Here we are, back in Napa Valley; this time trying to cater to more eccentric tastes. We have a vegetarian, pescetarian, and the masticating equivalent of an octogenarian. We have lactose intolerance, fried food non-preference, and no serious wine drinkers in presence.
So without the euphoric buzz from alcohol, all restaurants become subject to the sober critiques of our happy band of travelers.
On the first night, we went to Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. The area has a farmer’s market, so I expected grass and an open back yard. As we pulled up, it looked exactly as I envisioned with white lawn chairs and even a wedding behind rows of different plants.
Right next to the restaurant is a much rowdier scene: an outdoor bar, and a big red BBQ sign. I felt like I was more south than west with the volume was that of a buzzing beach town. There was even a big red tractor!
Indoors, the decor is upscale country with high vaulted ceilings, sanded down wood, and big windowed doors. Perhaps the space was once a warehouse or barn. The one great big room gave and excellent open feel to the restaurant.
Cheddar biscuits: 6.5/10 came almost griddle hot. They didn’t have the soft give that I wanted in the middle and were a little heavy, but the crunchy exterior delivered a cheddar punch.
Beat, goat cheese, and arugula salad 7/10: The ingredients could not get fresher. I could barely taste the bitterness of the arugula.
Kale salad with kumquats, radishes, and candied walnuts: 9/10 The kale was light and nothing like cardboard (which kale usually is), the kumquats were so fresh that the sweet tanginess made me pucker every time I bit into one, and the radishes were light and crisp and sweet. This dish also displays the incredible freshness of the ingredients.
Steak tartare 8/10: This rivals any steak tartare that we’ve had in Manhattan. Great flavoring, the dice was a perfect size, and we even converted two non-raw meat eaters!
Kale salad variation with chicken: 8/10 Chicken was tender and flavorful, but it was a little dried out from the grill.
Salmon: I didn’t have this one
Shrimp and dungeness crab salad: 6.5/10 The shrimp was a small sweet shrimp for some reason and the ratio was about 4:1 shrimp to crab. But other than that everything was fresh and tasty. The portion was absurdly large!
Ribeye: 7/10 The meat was succulent and perfectly cooked. The dish was a little heavy on the oil, especially the roasted veggies, that could have easily been drained.
Trout: I didn’t have this one
Gnocchi: I only had one bite, but I’d have to say 6.5/10. It was a little salty and heavy on the sauce for me, but the gnocchis themselves were soft and fluffy.
Pork chop 8/10; I don’t usually like pork chops, but somehow the meat was as tender as a chicken thigh. I would highly recommend this dish for pork lovers!
Beignets 10/10: I thought I was back in New Orleans! Wow! They were soft and hollow on the inside. The caramel sauce was not too sweet and I wanted to fill the little doughnuts by the ladlefuls. The anti-dessert crowd could not help themselves and had extra.
The ingredients at Farmstead live up to the freshness implied by the name. I highly recommend dropping by while in Napa. I’ve been to restaurants cheap and expensive, and I think this is a great atmosphere and a great value. And don’t forget to save space for the beignets!