Restaurant Review – June 2010

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review June 2010

Long Meadow Ranch Winery
& Farmstead in St. Helena

By Dorothy and John Salmon

John and I spent a delightful evening at Farmstead in St. Helena, catching up with our friends Todd Zapolski and Diana Nelson. Farmstead has only been open for a few months, but it has had a steady stream of eager customers who can’t wait for farm-to-table dining. The restaurant is set within a wine and agricultural center that has a tasting room, fruit and vegetable garden, and an organic nursery that offers seasonal fruits and vegetables for sale. What’s not to like about a completely sustainable, multi-dimensional business that is solar powered, organic and architecturally beautiful? The décor has a country charm that makes you feel laid back in a funky, but upscale, barn with great food, outdoor fire pit and bar. Welcome back to the homey feel of what it must have been like in the Napa Valley at the turn of the century!

As we sat down to dine, Dolly Parton was singing in the background and she was followed by Patsy Cline. Down-home country music was playing in the background all evening, creating a friendly but classy atmosphere, complemented by great service. We dined at Farmstead on a weeknight when there were plenty of locals in the place. Our server, Alaina, was gracious and exuded the best of what we hope our visitors and locals experience as Napa Valley’s warm and friendly hospitality. The seating inside opens with a view of the kitchen, a large family style dining table, table and booth seating,  and a full bar for that scotch that John orders after a long day. In warmer weather, diners can sit outside, next to the bar that looks like a potting table, close to a large wood-fired forge surrounded by a lovely organic garden.

Ted and Laddie Hall and their son Chris, the owners, believe in reusing everything they can, including the original redwood framing from the historic residence that is now part of the Farmstead bar, together with tree stumps that have been reborn as tables. Poultry feeders, hay hooks and forks have been given a new life as light fixtures. Table décor features a candle placed inside of a ball jar next to a 1950’s style glass, milk bottle filled with chilled fresh water. All of that, combined with country music in the background, takes you back to a simpler time.

The Farmstead wine list has a selection of great local and imported wines.  In every aspect of Farmstead, you can see the owners’ passion for sustainable and certified organic growing. Whether you are a local or a visitor, Farmstead is “one-stop shopping” for nursery supplies at Whiting’s, organic fruits and vegetables, olive oil, wine and a great meal at Farmstead. Chef, Sheamus Feely, prepares the food that you wish your mother knew how to make! It’s good old American comfort food fare with a touch of the Napa Valley; such as Farmstead’s meatloaf, short ribs and potato hash, brick cooked Petaluma chicken and flageolets, or a good old chicken fried, steak sandwich.

Wine by the glass at Farmstead offers some of the best selections you will find in the Napa Valley; Jones Family Cabernet, Dutch Henry Zinfandel, Lang and Reed Cabernet Franc, and plenty of Long Meadow white, their Cabernet blend and, one of our favorites, John Anthony “Church Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc.

If you are brining your own wine, there is never more than a $2 corkage fee. You can visit the 1870’s tasting room, with two private rooms, and have an opportunity to learn about food and wine pairings on a daily basis. Then, if you wish, purchase organic fruits, vegetables, olive oil or wine.

We caught up with Todd and Diana’s busy lives over a bottle of the 2009 John Anthony “Church Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc ($28) and shared plates of wood roasted asparagus with ricotta and Meyer lemon ($12) and some California dirty rice ($5). The asparagus was fantastic! For our meals, Dorothy started with the caramelized beets with goat cheese and greens ($12) and had the short ribs and potato hash with beets, herbs and fried egg ($26). Diana ordered what she described as, “the best hamburger in the world,” on a potato bun with arugula ($14) and the fried potatoes with herbs ($5). Farmstead serves homemade catsup, pickled cauliflower, homemade mayonnaise and shredded cheese with their hamburgers. All wonderful!

John ordered Hazel’s chicken and dumplings ($16), which he found to be a rare treat hardly ever found in the Napa Valley. Todd ordered the Smoked pork chop with Rancho Gordo lima beans, green garlic and salsa verde ($24). We were all very pleased with our choices. With our dinner, we enjoyed a bottle of Renteria Carneros Chardonnay ($52). We love Oscar and Denise Renteria and their chardonnay is just as special as they are.

Finally, for dessert, we shared the Scharffenberger chocolate pie with whipped cream, the Meyer lemon meringue pie with a graham cracker crust and the olive oil ice cream with fig preserves. YIKES, it’s time to go on a diet! All desserts at Farmstead are between $5 and $8 and they are fabulous! If you have room left, try the Long Meadow Ranch “Ranch House Red” Cabernet by the glass ($9) to complete your meal. Farmstead is yet another bright spot in the Napa Valley’s food and wine world, and well worth visiting over and over again.

Farmstead is open for lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Call Adam for reservations at (707) 963-9181. Farmstead is located at 738 Main Street in St. Helena across from the Dragon Fly dress shop on Highway 29 next to Whiting Nursery. (Dorothy gives directions by proximity to retail locations!)

http://www.napavalleymarketplace.com

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