Pure magic on the hillside. We don’t know what is more welcoming at this Michelin star rated French restaurant in Napa, the impressive wine list or the long range views of the valley from our balcony table. Feeling storied as a part of a movie scene, our culinary guide (waiter), Paul, popped the cork of rosé bubbly- Roederer Estate Brut Rosé (Approx. $100) to kick off our Napa getaway. Having just arrived from traveling all morning, our eyes feasted on an impressive menu.
Foie gras, bread, and caviar started us off. It is not uncommon to find fresh foie gras delivered to our home, it is a favorite and a must try on every menu we meet. Having written food reviews for some time now, I can honestly express my feelings about this particular Foie Gras ($24)- “It was the best I have ever tasted.” Of course, Auberge du Soleil flies it in from France, due to the expectations of the culinary team for all ingredients and products used to create their art. Most of the produce is sourced locally and regionally from the valley for the seasonal Mediterranean style menu created by Chef Robert Curry.
The one ounce jar of Black Pearl Osetra Caviar ($175) made our taste buds salivate for days. I still find myself closing my eyes and recalling the memory of my husband and I enjoying caviar among the lush scenery. Hints of rosemary graced bread selections I wish I could reach for daily around my own table.
Main entrees included Mint & Lemon Risotto ($30) and Nantucket Bay Scallops ($36), after the Maine Lobster Salad ($40) of course. The moroccan vinaigrette and curry almonds in the salad, offered a hint of middle eastern style spice that boosted the flavor of the lobster, avocado, hearts of palm and greens. The lobster was perfectly prepared, and although the dish is popular, it was my least favorite of our meal. The spice mixed with the accompanying textures felt dusty to my palate. Now, the scallops were beautiful, and the mint & lemon risotto was both filling and refreshing. Accompanied with wild gulf shrimp and bacon, it offered just enough flavor without being too hearty.
Now, let’s talk wine. With over 15,000 selections it can feel overwhelming to choose a wine. We were in the mood for Cabernet, as Napa is known for the grape. Paul worked with the sommelier to present a 2011 Realm (Approx. $500) . Knowing we enjoyed Caymus, and wanted to enjoy a local wine, the velvety cabernet was a beautiful gift from the earth. This year was the first vintage wine from the winemaker, who adopted names reflecting the writings of Shakespeare. “This blessed plot, this earth, this REALM,” appeared on the bottom left corner of the label, a line from the Tragedy of King Richard II. Earthy notes and a soft finish balanced the the wine.
I recommend Auberge du Soleil for a romantic getaway, or to experience with a close group of friends. Splurge, enjoy a beautiful wine selection. The balcony can feel slightly tight depending upon where you are seated, however the views and experience make it all worth it. The name means Sun Inn in French- a well suited name for the location.
If you get an opportunity to visit take it. Auberge du Soliel is a feeling. A feeling of connection and food that evokes emotion and enlivens the senses. Most of all, it is a place where everything just clicks. All feels right in the world for the minutes or hours shared. A moment to live for and one you will want carry on in your heart forever.
Auberge du Soliel opened in 1981 as a restaurant, and has now expanded to a boutique hotel and spa. Visit their website here: https://aubergedusoleil.aubergeresorts.com/dining/
180 Rutherford Hill Road
Rutherford, California 94573