Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
Fine dining is a funny thing. It's kind of a sport. On the day that I know I’m going to experience a tasting menu of epic sorts, I eat as little as possible while trying to not be so starved that I eat too fast at dinner and burn out before we’re done with the amuse bouche. In the case of my dinner at Meadowood on Wednesday night, I did some stretching. I wore a comfortable dress. I had a Coke 30 minutes before our reservation, figuring it would give me a little sugar-caffeine bump to balance the multiple pairings of wine.
But chef Christopher Kostow, who carries three Michelin stars in his pocket, isn’t one to overdo it. Our meal at Meadowood was made up of perfect portions meant to satiate without diving into gluttony. There’s nothing I hate more than the idea that a dinner’s value is based on big portions that leave you rolling out of the restaurant with a stomachache instead of feeling good about yourself. The French Laundry once left me feeling that way.
Since closing the restaurant for a couple months earlier this year for renovations, he’s reopened it serving a menu that's clearly not meant to be flashy, but truly elemental. There are a lot of earthy, ceramic plates. There's a fair amount of edible dirt. Kostow doesn’t just stick to the lobster and caviar canon. His food is delicate and seasonal and gardencentric—a true delight. Eating Kostow’s food is to consume everything from sorghum to huitlacoche to duck hearts (I thought I’d had eaten most everything but now I can add this to my list) to fresh chickpeas and venison. For one dish, he sliced abalone into thin ribbons, for another he paired sustainable Blue Fin tuna with thin slices of venison and a tiny drop of caviar. Followed by a fun riff on a cheese plate, a single dessert was served, made up of rich curls of hazelnut paste with tapioca and slices of apricot. The meal had ended like it had begun. We floated out, full, but completely content.