A new restaurant recently opened in Napa Valley’s Saint Helena that we hope is around as long as its previous occupant. The Charter Oak opened a few weeks ago in the space that was occupied for nearly 30 years by Napa Valley restaurant icon Tra Vigne. In late 2015 Tra Vigne closed up and left behind decades of memories and a beautiful empty building. Fortunately, a rock star team saw the empty space and realized it was the perfect place to open The Charter Oak. The owners of this new restaurant are Christopher Kostow, the head chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood, a Michelin three-star-rated restaurant just a few miles away; and Nathaniel Dorn, who is in charge of the front-of-house operations at The Restaurant at Meadowood. To round out the team, the owners have brought Meadowood’s chef-de-cuisine, Katianna Hong.
With this top team at the helm we knew that we were in store for a special experience but we didn’t know exactly what to expect. We wondered if The Charter Oak was going to deliver a Meadowood-light experience or something different entirely. When we sat down with our friends Chris and Monica and perused the menu, we realized that the experience would be more casual with most dishes offered family style to encourage sharing. Over the course of brunch, though, we also realized that there were many similarities with Meadowood as well: commitment to fresh, seasonal and local ingredients; attentive but not intrusive service; and artfully creative dishes.
When we arrived at The Charter Oak the weather was still pleasantly cool so we opted to sit out on the patio, a wonderful setting with its ample space and cool decor. We sat under one of the many trees and strategized what to pick from the menu. Each of us picked a separate item and we added several side dishes as well to make sure we sampled as much of the menu as possible. Of all the places breakfast or brunch places in Napa Valley, this was by far the best. Each of the dishes was creatively designed and executed beautifully with just the right texture and unique flavors.
One of our favorite dishes was the Pork Posole which was served with handmade wheat tortillas.
All four of us shared the posole as it was a generous portion and all of us enjoyed it immensely and would order it again.
One person in our party ordered the bread pudding French toast, an item we passed over thinking it wouldn’t be our thing.
Boy were we wrong about this dish! Although we are not fans of bread pudding, the flavor and consistency of this dish were perfect and there was nothing left but an empty dish after it made its way around the table.
Another breakfast item that was ordered was the Danish rye bread served with a soft-boiled egg and topped with avocado and furikake (a Japanese seasoning). This, too, was incredibly tasty and was so good two were ordered and finished in their entirety.
When we first ordered we did not focus on the fact that the dishes were going to be large, family style portions and we loaded up on side dishes as well. Who could pass up the piloncillo bacon? Not us, for sure.
Nor could we pass up the sausages.
To balance out this protein we ordered The Charter Oak’s unique take on hash browns.
If this looks excessive …it was. Four main items and four sides for four people was too much food. When we say “too much,” by the way, we do not intend to suggest any of it remained uneaten. Rest assured that we ate all of it. But we could easily have ordered two mains and the sides and been satisfied.
We have not been to dinner (yet) at The Charter Oak but a fellow Napa blogger recently penned this post after her dinner there and the food and experience looks equally exquisite. The Wine Ho – Charter Oak Dinner Review
If you’re looking for a special place to brunch in Napa Valley, The Charter Oak has to be a top choice. Click here for reservations: Charter Oak Reservations
John & Irene
July 14, 2017