Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review May 2009
Bardessono Resort, Spa and Restaurant
By Dorothy and John Salmon
Bardessono Resort, Spa and Restaurant is Yountville’s newest, greenest and most amazing hang out. The property has that simple elegance of wine country. Best of all, the food in the restaurant is amazing! Bardessono is not inexpensive… but it’s not over the top either. It is perfect for those special occasions. In fact, we thought it was one of the best meals we have enjoyed anywhere in the Napa Valley!
The Bardessono family is well known and loved in the Napa Valley. Steve Bardessono was Napa County’s Agricultural Commissioner for many years and also served as the President of the Napa Rotary Club. He is “all around good guy,” as is everyone else in the Bardessono family. They have proven their patience and fortitude as well, since they worked for many years to make this project come to life. When you see it, you will agree that it was well worth the wait!
When Steve and Pat Bardessono built their home on the property in the early 1970’s, they incorporated an existing stone building meant for wine storage. The building was taken apart stone by stone and saved for reuse on the Bardessono Resort’s exterior walls. The stone is a local limestone called Tufa, and large blocks of the stone have been sliced into tiles and used on both the exterior and interior of public spaces. Now, that is recycling!
The hotel was designed to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest standard for environmental design. Caring for the environment is a core value at the Bardessono Resort. An underground geothermal system heats and cools the guest rooms, the spa and the domestic hot water supply. Almost no offsite energy is used. Hidden on the flat rooftops are 940 solar panels that provide significant amounts of the hotel’s electrical demand. Occupancy sensors in guest rooms automatically decrease energy consumption when guests are not in their rooms. Gorgeous woods used throughout the hotel are milled from salvaged trees and non-toxic, non-allergenic materials. Organic linens and cleaning supplies and recycling and composting programs are standard. Products in the restaurant and spa are sourced primarily from local organic or sustainable producers.
But, we wander, since this is supposed to be a restaurant review. Sean O’Toole, executive chef, has said that he wants dining at Bardessono to be a nourishing experience, a summoning of favorite meals from your past. Whether that meal is a truffle dusted veal agnolloti from your honeymoon or your great grandmother’s peach cobbler. Serving guests pure, simple and sustainable foods is the bedrock upon which the dining program is founded. The menu reads like an encyclopedia of Northern California’s natural resources, including items like Monterey Shellfish, earthy Sonoma Coast black trumpet mushrooms, Bodega Bay Halibut and Sausalito Springs watercress.
We enjoyed our dinner at Bardessono with our good friend Jane Chapin, who knows great restaurants on both coasts. Since it was a weekday evening, the restaurant was quiet, but the atmosphere, food and service all superb.
For starters, we enjoyed three very interesting bar drinks. Dorothy ordered the Rum Buck ($12) made with rum, fresh ginger, citrus and bitters. John ordered his usual Scotch on the rocks ($13), this time an aged single malt Scotch. Jane ordered the Airmail ($11) made with white Haitian rum, lime, honey, house-made bitters. After enjoying our drinks we ordered the Tomales Bay Oysters ($19), Star Route Farm Salad ($10) and Dungeness Crab Salad ($17). They were all spectacular.
For our Main Courses, John enjoyed the Bodega Bay Halibut with rose finn potatoes, Sausalito springs watercress, ibérico ham, natural sauce ($27). Jane tried the Roasted Pacific Blue Nose Bass with braised fennel and orange marmalade daube sauce ($26). Dorothy chose the Watson’s Napa Valley Lamb, roasted and curry braised, with coconut basmati rice, dried fruit, pineapple quince at $33. We were all completely satisfied with our choices and there was very little sharing done at the table.
With dinner, we enjoyed a bottle of Frog’s Leap Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007 “F” ($40). The “F” is Bardessono’s way of identifying wines on their wine list that practice biodynamic farming and grape growing. Wineries that farm sustainably and organic are noted with a “J”. Biodynamics is a sustainable farming system that is based on a series of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 in Germany. Steiner believed that fertilizers and pesticides were degrading the quality of food due to chemical substances and the spiritual shortcomings of chemical farming.
We think that going to Bardessono’s will give you the spiritual experience of great dining in Yountville. These guys really know how to do it right and they deserve our support for their thoughtful efforts. Oh, and don’t miss seeing the bathrooms – they are amazing too!