Meritage Resort and Spa’s pop-up Village Bistro serves up Instagram-worthy meals

I have never seen deviled eggs so refined.

Snow-white globes are crowned with tight swirls of filigree egg yolk mixed with egg mayo and mustard, then finished with finely chopped herbs, sun-dried tomatoes and breadcrumbs ($12) . The tray is then decorated with leafy micro-shoots and multicolored flowers. It’s Instagram edible.

This and all of the other dishes I enjoyed at the new Village Bistro in Napa were more impressive than I expected from a pop-up at the Meritage Resort and Spa. Dinner is only served from Friday to Sunday, and unless the management team changes their minds (which I hope) the restaurant will close on January 8th.

Obviously, a lot of thought has gone into this concept, especially for a temporary idea. The French cuisine stands out from other local fine dining restaurants, brimming with spectacular presentations and excellent flavors, all presented in an elegant setting. The walls are lined with backlit shelves of wine and candles. A bar sparkles with liquors of all kinds. Dark wood and stone accents give a castle feel, and chandeliers cast a romantic glow.

The vision, we’re told, came from the resort’s Director of Dining Experience, Chef Vincent Lesage, and was inspired by his French-born grandmother. The pop-up is a creative way to use the space freed up by the Foley Food & Wine Society’s tasting room in The Village at Vista Collina, a retail and events center across from the main complex.

When was the last time I started a meal with an elegant cocktail, like a real grown-up? I don’t even like bourbon that much, but the Bistro Vieux Carré looked so scrumptious delivered to another table that I ordered one. Made with Chicken Cock bourbon, Martell cognac and Benedictine, it’s lightly sweet but herbal, and the martini glass is garnished with caramelized orange slices and dark maraschino cherries ($18).

Restaurant manager Maria Villalpando has also compiled a list of over 100 wines, including a 2018 Hundred Acre Cabernet Sauvigno, Napa Valley ($1,200, yeah, really), and plenty of French selections like a 2019 Vocoret Chablis. ($18 glass, $74 bottle). ).

Executive chef Jose Mejia and chef de cuisine Carlo Narabal execute Lesage’s Gallic classics almost perfectly. I have never seen such a beautiful niçoise salad as this one. The menu simply reads: tuna, potato, green beans, black olive, lemon and olive oil vinaigrette ($21). But this tuna is sashimi-grade, browned and sliced ​​to expose its ruby ​​flesh. These al dente sliced ​​potatoes are coated with chopped fresh herbs. Green beans bend and snap when you bite into them, and eggs are boiled to the perfect creamy yolk. Dig through the mixed lettuces and find California-style surprises of paper-thin watermelon radish, juicy cherry tomatoes and flowers.

There’s a good French Onion Soup ($18), plus a lovely charcuterie plate with the expected salumi, cheeses, crackers, homemade jam, assorted fruits and vegetables, and the star of the show. plate, a slice of homemade pâté ($26). There’s also the beef tartare, traditional with Dijon dressing, shallots, pickle and Little Gem lettuce ($22), as well as warm sourdough bread (levain à la française, $7) waiting to be smothered with barrate butter (churned, cultured French butter I could eat by the spoonful). Like many dishes here, all of these starters are shareable in size, satisfying for two diners.

In many restaurants, entrees eclipse entrees (the idea being that diners get more creative by trying small plates and seek more familiar comfort with large plates). This cuisine, however, goes all out with main courses, adding jazzy touches like sorrel and trout roe with seared salmon ($35) or morel and pea stew with roast organic half chicken ($38 $).

I’ve enjoyed a lot of gnocchi popping up on many menus lately – some light and fluffy, some dense and crispy – and it’s one of my current favorite food trends. For best-in-class, order Parisian gnocchi from Village Bistro. The dumplings are both chewy and crispy here and there, bathed in a thick creamy spring onion mash and nestled with crispy artichoke hearts, carrots, pea pods, pea tendrils, herbs flowers and these signature flowers ($29). Here’s another great Instagram photo – the chef sent my party’s service in a bright red Staub enameled cast iron pot in the shape of a tomato.

Another Staub pot holds bouillabaisse, the black iron container cleverly set with a metal basket on one side to keep the toasted country bread away from the rich tomato fish broth that will make it soggy. It’s a mussel pot, I learn. Indeed, the stew includes mussels, oysters, shrimp, a piece of fish covered in saffron cream and a meaty langoustine ($37).

Of course, a French bistro must have a steak frites, just like an American restaurant must have a burger. This version is excellent, the strip of New York Akaushi (American wagyu) thickly sliced ​​grilled rare on demand, sprinkled with flaky sea salt and topped with béarnaise sauce alongside a pile of hand-cut fries sprinkled with parmesan cheese. ($45).

I love the profiteroles, these pastries that excel in their simplicity. So digging into these homemade puffs stuffed with vanilla ice cream and ladles in chocolate sauce ($12) makes me very happy at the end of an already very enjoyable meal.

Profiteroles are not photogenic. There are no flowers, no gold leaf, no fantasy. But my friends and I eat them so fast there wouldn’t have been time for an Instagram pic, anyway.

Carey Sweet is a food and restaurant writer based in Sevastopol. Read his restaurant reviews every two weeks in Sonoma Life. Contact her at [email protected]

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