In Tejal Rao's current NY Times article entitled California's Luxury Dining Circuit: Delicious and Dull, Rao bemoans the fact that everything is so wonderful, which I guess is to be expected (by Rao?), when one is dining in Napa (or Sonoma) County...for some reason?
As Rao puts it:
The French Laundry, the Restaurant at Meadowood and SingleThread have much in common: amazing precision, sky-high prices and a sedating sort of predictability.
Now, based on our recent Sonoma/San Francisco trip (and yes, like Sneak's recent CA trip, it begs to be written up at some point), I can't opine on the predictability of TFL or Meadowood, but our dinner at Single Thread was not exactly sedating to me...then again, I don't get to dine in this type of fancy restaurant as often as Rao must.
While we didn't dine at Meadowood, their sister restaurant Charter Oak was great, utilizing many products from the same farm, but with lots of cooking over live fire, and in a pretty casual setting (the old Tra Vigne space, and I heard some stories...).
And since a long weekend (?) away, on a drive from her home base in LA (now that's a schlep!) must've included a stop or two for breakfast or lunch, I wonder if those were predictable as well? Like, did she perhaps stop in San Francisco for an excellent brunch at our favorite place, Plow, up on Potrero Hill? Or maybe take a little detour to Marshall, for great oysters plucked right out of the water at The Marshall Store?
Instead of lazing around the pool, spitting wine and getting sunburnt (as if there's not enough sun in LA!), she might've hopped into her car and headed to Santa Rosa for some great Mexican food at Taqueria Molcajetes. Or Boyes Hot Springs to El Molino Central. I mean, that's what I did, cause I'm not a pool guy, and we do not live by 13-course meals alone.
So yeah, I imagine eating three meals at the high-end places written about in the article might lead to a certain "predictability" (especially if done in rapid succession, which it appears they were), but who the fuck does that? I guess what I'm trying to say, and it's pretty much the exact opposite of what she says:
And what I knew about Napa was that it was someone else’s exorbitant fantasyland — yawny and pampering. It could be perfect, but in the way that falling asleep during a massage is perfect, and I had no plans to make a special journey back.
is that I always look forward to a return to Sonoma; because to us, there's really no other place quite like it - at least not in our own country.