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What $20 Will Buy You At Meadowood

Carolyn Alburger | March 8, 2013 | Story Restaurants

In the midst of my recent thirty-minute phone call with The Restaurant at Meadowood’s chef, Christopher Kostow, he learned that Chicago great, Grant Achatz, was coming in for dinner, and that the restaurant's in-house forager had just wheeled in the latest crop of mallow. (This counts as major news in certain kitchens.) Despite its serene Napa Valley setting and whatever preconceived notions you might have about stuffy, three-Michelin-starred restaurants, a day in the life at Meadowood is anything but boring.

Kostow and I were on the horn to discuss the new $20 “snacks” option, and the $90 three-course tasting menu—two rather exciting developments for a restaurant where, until now, the price of a tasting menu has started at $225 per person. Restaurant director Nathaniel Dorn says the team came up with these new, more accessible menus so that regulars and industry grunts would have an option when they wanted to pop in after a shift, or just to say hello.

So what does $20 buy you at the Meadowood bar? Kostow passed on a sample list and pictures of canap├ęs, but not without the caveat that these could change at any moment. For the time-being, expect tiny vegetables fermented in champagne yeast, a "garden scrapbook" of steamed carrot cake and puffed kale, black rice and seaweed laver, "shrimp toast,” samp grit chips, geoduck clam fritters, beef tendon with caviar, and Scandinavian flavors.

Kostow doesn’t ever pin himself down to a set list of bites or dishes. Guests plop down $20, and then he sends out little bites without interrupting their conversation. The same general idea goes for the $90 three-courser. Diners sitting at the bar are given the same “master” menu as everyone in the dining room—a sort of high-end laundry list of all of the evening’s possibilities. Guests peruse the list, tell their server if they have any objections or predilections, and then the kitchen caters a menu specifically to their tastes and price point.

The bar has also just released a new cocktail program, littered with house-made eau de vies, and bitters created by bar manager Sam Levy. Kostow says the drinks skew towards clean, acidic, and garden-driven without a lot of muddling or “smoke and mirrors.” Take a look at the full cocktail list below. And do note that you don’t necessarily need a reservation for any of this:

$16 each

Aperol, Limoncello, Cocchi Americano, Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc

Fino Sherry, Lilet, Cava, Lemon

Kaffir Pisco, Luxardo Maraschino, Green Chartreuse, Lime, Egg White

Marin Millers Westbourne, Herb de Provence Vermouth, Bergamot Tincture

Buddah’s Hand Vodka, Mandarin, Lime, St. Germain

Famous Grouse, Blood Orange, Cherry Herring Shrub, Spuma Nera Fizz

Tequila, Kina L’Avion d’Or, Tarragon Liquer, Punt e Mes, Grapefruit, Lime

W.L. Weller 12 year, Carpano Antica, House Curacao, Kubler Absinthe

Matusalem Platino, Mint, Lime, Seltzer

Zero Proof
Chammomile and Gin-Spiced Tea, Meyer Lemon, Violette Effervescence

Lemongrass, Galangal, Green Tea, Lime

Burnt Orange Blossom Honey, Meyer Lemon, Fever Tree Bitter Lemon

Chinotto, Sambitter, Orange, Seltzer

Pimms Syrup, Spuma Nera, Blenheim’s Spicy Ginger Ale, Cucumber, Mint

Flavors of Cabernet

House Ginger Brew

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