Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dining Reviews: Napa Rose

Since it was my Mom's birthday, we planned on going to Napa Rose as soon as we booked the trip.  This was my birthday present to my Mom.

For those of you who have never been, Napa Rose is located at the Grand Californian Resort.  There's a nice lounge area, as well as the restaurant.  It has an open kitchen and there is an option to book seats at the Chef's Counter (I was tempted.)

We checked in and were escorted directly to our table.  Ironically, it was the same table Geoff and I had when we went back in 2010!  The restaurant has an upscale rustic feel to it.  The Grand Californian itself is very similar to the Wilderness Lodge at WDW, and the restaurant feels the same.

One of the things Napa Rose offers is their "Vintner's Table" menu.  Essentially a price-fix menu, but you don't get to choose what you order, it's all or nothing.  We decided going in that unless we really disliked something, this is what we were going to do.

Vintner's Table Menu
 Of course, I don't like olives, I don't care for peaches, I tried pate once and it wasn't my favorite.  And sweetbreads?

Obviously we went with the Vintner's Table.  Hah!  I figured I would give it a shot, I mean, if I didn't like anything, I would fill up on bread, right?  And really, if the chef says it's good, let's give it a try!

We also decided to give the wine pairings a shot.  Of course, as it is with most wine pairings, at least one was a red.  So I asked our waiter if it was at all possible for them to pair a white with the the Scallops instead of the red.  The response was night and day different than at Wine Country Trattoria (different price point, so you would expect better service, but still.)  Our waiter assured me it wouldn't be a problem.  He even came back before the second course to ask if I was allergic to Reds or if I just didn't like them because of the Rose paired with the second course.  I let him know that Red wines give me migraines, but I didn't have that problem with Roses.  So we were off to an excellent start!

Bread Basket
Amuse Bouche: Crab Fritter
Pretty soon we had bread and were being served the amuse bouche.  I'm sure this had a much fancier name, but it was a crab fritter.  It was really quite delicious and a good way to start.  It was very light and fresh tasting, which is hard for something fried.

First Course: John Dory
I'm not sure how well you can read the menu, so our first course was Lemon Crusted John Dory with Olive Oil Poached Potatoes, Fava Beans with Saffron, and Spanish Olive Tartar Sauce.  It was paired with a Zocker Winery Gruner Veltliner.  The wine was lighter than I was expecting.  It had definite fruity/citrus-y flavors that paired really nicely with the fish.  The fish itself was cooked perfectly.  I was happy that the sauces didn't overwhelm the lighter fish.

2nd Course: Pheasant Pate
This was the course I was most nervous for.  It was a Napa Valley Pheasant Pate with Summer Pickled Peach, Fried Golden Chantarelles and Watercress Salad.  It was paired with a Chateau de St Martin Cuvee Grande Reserve Rose.  This course wound up being quite interesting.  The Pate by itself was rather meaty.  The peaches on top gave it a little fresher of a taste.  The chantarelles in the middle were a little greasy.  And on the right were pickled vegetables that..well, tasted pickled.  But then you combined the mushrooms with the veggies and some wine? Out of this world!  We then had fun changing up the combination of items on the plate.  In the front was a mustard sauce that we then started incorporating into the dish.  I really liked the mustard sauce with the pate.  I'm really glad I didn't shy away from the Vintner's Table because of this dish.  It's things like this that really broaden your dining horizons.

3rd Course: Scallops
For the third course, we had Grilled Diver Scallops with Lobster and Sweetbread Ragu, Brentwood Corn, and Merlot Lobster Essence.  This course was paired with a red, so my Mom had Gaja Ca'Marcanda and I had a Far Niente Chardonnay, which was really oak-y.  I'm generally not a fan of heavy, oak-y Chardonnays.  I prefer much lighter, fruitier, acidic wines.  The funny thing about this wine was that my Dad absolutely loves it, so my Mom looked it up on their wine list and they were selling it for over $20 a glass.  My Mom was surprised that they served it for me since it was a pricier wine.

I've been to enough wine classes to know not to judge a paired wine based only on how it tastes when it stands alone, so I held my judgement of it until I tried it with the dish.  And oh my goodness, it was amazing. The heavier wine really paired nicely with the meaty scallops.  I could not have asked for a better pairing, I was thrilled.  As for the sweetbreads?  Not too bad really.  They had a very similar texture to the scallops. This dish was really solid.  I was surprised at how meaty and filling it was for essentially the main course.  I was a little surprised that they didn't really have a meat course, but the scallops filled the role nicely.

Happy Birthday!

4th Course: Strawberry Dessert
For dessert we were served a Summer Strawberry Cooler, Creme Fraiche Semifredo with Orange and Brown Sugar.  It was paired with a Dr Loosen Riesling Eiswein.  Since we lived in the Finger Lakes, I am very familiar with Ice Wine.  I do not like it.  I tried it with the dessert and managed a few sips.  It did pair nicely with the crisp strawberry, but it was not my favorite.  Luckily, my Mom loves Ice Wines, so I sent it her way.  The dessert itself was a refreshing way to end the meal.  It was nice and light and fresh.  As much as I love chocolate, it's nice not to end a meal with something so rich.

All in all, we loved Napa Rose.  It was such a great experience.  The Vintner's Table was a real treat so we were able to try new things.  The service was fantastic (I still love that it was no big deal to accommodate my  request for all whites.)  This is one of those restaurants that really is worth all the hype.   

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