Auberge du Soleil Restaurant Review, Rutherford
Posted by Foodnut.com
Auberge du Soleil (Inn of the Sun) is a posh resort in the Napa Valley with a Michelin starred restaurant that opened in 1981. Executive Chef Robert Curry, formerly of Domain Chandon and Greystone, serves up Wine country cuisine.
Decor, Vibe – Overlooking the lush vines of the Napa Valley near the Silverado trail, Auberge du Soleil has a killer view. Tranquil, peaceful, and lush with birds chirping in the cool breeze blowing. Well-heeled hotel guests and wine/food aficionados from 30s to 60s wearing country club attire were dining at dinnertime.
Signature dishes – Pan Seared Foie Gras With Poached Rhubarb, Baby Fennel And Red Wine Vanilla Jus; Poached Lobster, Avocado With Brioche And Orange Vanilla Vinaigrette; and Venison Tournedos With Sweet Potato Napoleon, Wild Mushrooms And Huckleberry Sauce.
This resort restaurant also serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch. They have a 4 course prix fix dinner Menu at $105, $125 tasting menu, vegetarian menu, but I’ll honor a la carte ordering.
Mojito was minty and strong, but not too sweet.
Amuse Bouche 1 – Pastry puff with goat cheese and topped with a apricot. A delicious combination of flavors and textures.
Amuse Bouche 2 – Warm Cauliflower soup with truffle oil had subtle vegetable flavor and a balance hint of richness.
Hamachi Sashimi, Slow cooked egg, Hong Kong Vinaigrette was an excellent dish with top-notch fish in a very good lemony sauce that went well with the fish and noodles. Not sure why the vinaigrette was from Hong Kong though.
Sautéed foie gras from France, chocolate stuffed pain Perdue (French toast), pistachios, cherries was a huge portion of artery clogging goodness cooked perfectly and accented well by the tartness of the cherries and the crunchy pistachios.
Maine Lobster ($22) sea beans, basil, tomatoes, watermelon foam was a refreshing and beautiful dish with big chunks of tender lobster sweetened by the watermelon chunks. The foam added a weird watermelon skin flavor to the dish. Tapioca pearls added to the uniqueness.
Wild Hopper Shrimp Risotto, Boullabaisse, Parmesan, Rouille was a robustly flavored dish which included some fresh shrimp. Hearty and complex flavors with very good cheese.
Scottish Salmon, Onion Crust, Spring Vegetables, Fava Bean Sauce had an interesting European origin. The high-quality fish was cooked perfectly and had an excellent crust.
Spiced Local Lamb, Gnocchi, goat cheese stuffed squash blossom, Bagna Cauda was cooked to our desired medium and possessed a perfect Moroccan spice flavor. The large quantity of Lamb was of high-quality and not gamey. Tempura’d zucchini flowers were crisp while the zucchini below were nubile.
Liberty Farms Duck, Apricot Glaze, Almonds, Fennel, Chamomile included both a perfectly cooked pan seared breast portion and a braised portion. Both provided contrasting ways to highlight the high-quality duck. Tart apricots helped balance out the poultry.
Prime New York Beef ($42) Boulangere Potato Gratin, English Peas, Caramelized Shallot Sauce also included two cooking styles. The traditional steak had a nice salt crust. The braised version was very tender and possessed strong flavors from the gravy. Meat quality was definitely in the prime category.
Pre-Dessert blackberry spritzer with whipped cream was on the bland side.
Torte au Chocolat, Hazelnut Dacquoise, Valrhona Guanaja Crémeux, Ice Cold Milk is their signature dessert that they even sell separately. 11 different layers of strong chocolate and nutty goodness washed down with a slightly sweet milk and ice cream.
Trio of Seasonal Fruit Sorbets consisted of blackberry, strawberry, and apricot, all laying on thin shortbread. All three were clearly freshly made with the strawberry the most delicate and fruity.
Petit Fours – chocolates, caramels, candied nuts, and blueberry mini muffins.
Parting gift – Box of 4 fruit gelees.
Service – Auberge du Soleil had very good service with a very knowledgeable and upbeat waiter that took care of any concern. We never ask for refills, pacing was perfect, and napkins were promptly replaced when someone moved away.
Alternatives – Nearby restaurants of this caliber include The French Laundry and the Restaurant at Meadowood. Etoile at Domain Chandon offers a sample of the relaxed environment at more affordable prices.
Verdict – Auberge du Soleil serves up her legendary view along with some top-notch food, resulting in the restful and fulfilling journey. On a budget, visit their lower-cost bistro and bar. Extensive 79 page wine list with tastes, glasses from $10 and bottles from $30.
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