When you wake up the morning after an extravagant dinner and call the restaurant to ask them around what time dinner may have ended so that you can estimate about what time you went to bed, you're probably not fit to write a review about said restaurant. I'll take it even further. If the details of how you ended up in bed are hazy, you're probably not even fit to write a non-judgmental description of your dining experience, or for that matter, any course after roughly the first or second. So, while I had hoped to write a meaningful, thoughtful article about my dinner at Meadowood, prepared by Chef Kostow on the last night of their 12 days of Christmas series, I simply can't. But, I have pictures!
Rather than let these shots go to waste on my hard drive, I figured I could at least give an impression of the tasting menu by sharing them at the end of this post (just click on the photo, then click once more to see the full size version). And, although I can't speak to the details of my meal, I will say that there were two things that left a distinct impression on me.
The first was the first course, a Potato Custard with smoked herring and roe, pickled onion, and dill stem. I found myself comparing this first course to all of the subsequent dishes, unable to find any other that rivaled its refinement throughout the course of the meal. And in no way do I mean that as an insult to the rest of the meal - it just simply blew me away.
The second thing that left a lasting impression was Chef Kostow's attitude. I had met Chef Kostow at the 2011 Michelin ceremony in late October, and was lucky enough to visit Meadowood only a mere 7 weeks after that 3-star announcement was made. On our first encounter Chef Kostow was nothing but humble and overwhelmed by having been given such a prestigious award. I wondered if, after giving it some time to sink in, he would realize that he's the man, puff out his chest, and change his tune. This couldn't have been further from the truth. The second time we met he was nothing but humble, grateful, appreciative of his staff, and down to earth. Dropping a couple of swear words into our conversation may not have seemed 100% professional to some, but to me, it made him pretty goddamn cool.
Although most of the other details are fuzzy, I still left with a very good general impression of the meal. So the real question is would I go back? Depends. Are you paying? If you are, then absolutely! If not, well then I may want to use that money for, I don't know, a ticket to Hawaii or a weekend at the Coachella Music Festival. That said, an over-the-top meal at Meadowood is definitely worth experiencing at least once.
The Restaurant at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, CA 94574
Reading this again I do think that if someone offered you the chance to return you should do so - especially considering your excellent amuse bouche article; Kostow sent out some of the most thoughtful amuses I've seen anywhere and would have been a perfect target for that article. The man is as precise and careful as any chef I've witnessed and his use of scent and aromatics is quite stunning.
That said, the bill was $100 more than Saison and Cyrus, plus nearly twice the price of Crenn and being that they had the audacity to charge for water ($8 - seriously?) the cost with tax/tip rings in at the same price as the tasting menu with Foie Gras at The French Laundry. Translation = I'd only return if someone else was paying and even then I'd volunteer to do the leg work to get a seat at TFL.
Incidentally, I sat next one of the servers from Cyrus during my meal - he and his wife were there celebrating their marriage last week and they started asking me questions both about the pictures and questions I was asking; turns out one of them frequently reads both your blog (not surprising) and mine (discovered from chowhound which, according to google analytics is generating ~80% of my 5,000 hits per week since moving to wordpress.)