Charter oak evolves into a napa dining destination – san francisco chronicle marinade for filet mignon

The new restaurant was years in the making, and the grounds and the restored building with its century-old facade are impressive. A bar on one side overlooks what in the next month or so will become one of the best outdoor dining rooms in the napa valley.

If you go to the restaurant’s website, the intent of the menu is made clear: “the charter oak cooking style is elemental, featuring few if no garnishes, and highlights one or two ingredients at a time.”

That’s well and good, but when I reviewed the restaurant in august there was an internal war between a fine dining approach and a more casual, family-style menu. My biggest objection was the $85 tasting menu, which seemed like it was too expensive for what you got.Casual family-style finally, the staff didn’t seem comfortable in what they were doing.

The grilling works well with meat, of course, but what really demonstrated talent in the kitchen was the treatment of vegetables.

Not only was the asparagus exceptional, but so was the kohlrabi ($18), a vegetable that doesn’t get enough credit. Chef katianna hong slow-roasts the whole bulbous vegetable in embers, then cuts it into thick meaty slices, places it on pumpernickel rye porridge with the texture of cream of wheat and seasons it with a spicy mustard vinaigrette.

A magical touch also lit up the salad of broccolini ($22) with creamy ricotta and crunchy puffed grains. What confused me about the dish was the pricing, which seems incongruous, especially when a 4- or 5-ounce portion of grilled rockfish, with a mix of pea tendrils and other greens seasoned with a vinaigrette is $24.Casual family-style the broccolini portion was generous, but the pricing still seemed out of line. Whether it’s raw vegetable crudités from the garden ($14) with fermented soy dip, or polenta with vegetable bolognese ($23) with fresh cheese, these items deserve equal billing with meat.

One of the signatures is the hefty beef rib ($28) grilled over cabernet barrels with beets cooked in the fire. There’s also roasted pork shoulder ($28) with molasses and winter squash, and grilled rib eye for two ($110).

The treatment of the chicken ($25) is impressive. The meat is brined in seasoned buttermilk for 24 hours before being grilled with grape leaves and three kinds of dried and fresh grapes. It reminds me of a more rustic version of what kostow did a few years ago at meadowood.Cabernet barrels what could be more local than cabernet barrels and grapes?

The wine selections are impressive, as you’d expect, but the format doesn’t fit the more casual, family-style approach of the kitchen. The list is laid out by vinicultural areas. If you know you want a wine from pritchard hill or howell mountain, you’re in luck. However, if you’re more interested in a varietal like chardonnay or grenache, you’ll be leafing through dozens of pages trying to pick out the options. You really need the sommelier’s help.

Or you could just skip the wine and choose a cocktail. The beverage list highlights three pages of both classic and creative combinations such as the charter oak margarita ($14) with blanco tequila, citrus, rhum clement creole shrubb.Casual family-style

The other incongruous element is the rusted metal dessert cart, which is filled with monochromatic desserts made tableside: one glass dome covers a dense chocolate tart glazed with molasses ($8). A bowl holds a pile of meringues that will be filled with olive oil pudding, and a wood basket holds buffalo ice cream that’s made into a sundae with olive oil. On this visit they also had a date “pudding” ($8), a mixture of two kinds of dates whipped with heavy cream, according to our waiter. It’s then piped into a bowl and drizzled with walnut oil. It was pleasant, but after a few bites I had my fill. It seems like something that should accompany a slice of polenta cake or a medley of fruit.Cabernet barrels