I made my first visit to Bardessono last night for the restaurant’s weekly Sunday Supper, a $39 four-course dinner which offers one of the best deals in wine country. My dinner last night was delicious, bordering on exceptional, and if the restaurant can continue along this path every Sunday night, then Bardesonno will easily become one of my regular haunts this winter. Of course, those familiar with Yountville dining will typically think of Ad Hoc when they think of a four-course prix fixe dinner, but I will go on record right now, and proclaim that last night’s meal at Bardessono trumped anything that I have ever had at Ad Hoc, including their ever-popular fried chicken.
From my perspective, there are at least three good reasons to consider Bardessono over Ad Hoc on Sunday nights: (1) the four courses at Bardessono are actually four prepared dishes, whereas the third course at Ad Hoc is always a cheese board (I’m not necessarily against cheese as a course, but this approach always seemed like an easy way out), (2) each of the courses at Bardessono are individually plated, so there is an element of presentation that the simple family-style approach at Ad Hoc can never capture, and (3) at $39 per person, the price for Sunday Supper is $10 less than Ad Hoc (I should also mention that Bardessono began last night’s dinner with a rather sizable amberjack sashimi amuse, which would arguably have made it a five-course dinner).
I was a bit surprised to see that the Bardessono dining room was sparsely populated last night, but then again, Bardessono is a relatively new entity in the valley, and the resort itself is located one block off of Washington Street — just a bit removed from most of the action — over on the less-trafficked Yount Street. But as far as I’m concerned, if you’re looking for a Sunday night option in Yountville, Bardessono’s Sunday Supper should be one of the first few choices to consider.
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In keeping with Bardessono’s sustainable aesthetic, the Sunday Supper menu featured four nods to local produces and purveyors, as well as some terrific fall-themed dishes. Following the amuse mentioned above, the Hale Farm heirloom apple salad featured lightly caramelized apple wedges alongside batons of celery, celery leaves, candied pecans, and pickled red pearl onions. The salad was lightly dressed with a cider vinaigrette, and a drizzle of honey with crushed black pepper provided an interesting visual presentation that also worked very well on the palate.
The second course was a Hill Family Farm pumpkin risotto, garnished with a young ginger foam and a few small leaves of mizuna. For me, this risotto presented one of the most memorable courses of the dinner. The dish was exceptionally creamy and flavorful, featuring a beautiful light-saffron color, while the uniform small-dice of roasted pumpkin exhibited some thoughtful craftsmanship. Clearly, the kitchen at Bardessono does not take many shortcuts.
Two thick slices of Marin Sun Farm flat-iron steak comprised the main course, garnished with a trio of earthy elements: a large quenelle of fork-crushed la ratte potatoes, two bite-sized halves of roasted chu chu eggplant, and a small cluster of sauteéd maitake mushrooms. The steak was finished with a delicious brown sauce, not too light and not too cloying. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the eggplant component, and I’m thoroughly convinced that these clever little chu chus — originally developed in India as a hybrid — present the only visually appealing way to feature eggplant as a side item.
Among prix fixe menus, dessert can often seem like an afterthought, but the Nou Farm veradama yam sweet potato pie was easily on par with the previous courses, exhibiting the smooth, refined texture of custard and accompanied by a quenelle of really dynamite five-spice ice cream. Move over, Ad Hoc.