738 Main Street
St. Helena, Calif. 94574
Chef’s Table—Elegant Dining
Dinner—6 p.m. (Reservations Required)
The farm-to-table movement bounded into mainstream vernacular in the early 2000s, and it’s become a catch-all term that has somewhat lost its meaning. But Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, owned by Ted, Laddie and Chris Hall, operates a full-circle organic farming system. It’s one of those rare places with an on-site garden that offers an authentic farm-to-table experience.
Dining at the chef’s table at Long Meadow Ranch is an elegant, two-hour culinary adventure that begins with a glass of wine and a stroll through the garden to see what’s growing. “Here we plan and have control of our whole food system with the help of Mother Nature, a little luck and a dedicated crew,” says Stephen Barber, executive chef. “We pick what we grow at the peak of ripeness and bring it into the kitchen. Today, we picked figs and included them on our lunch menu. Farmstead is a special place. We have everything at our fingertips.”
On this late summer evening, there are tomatoes, corn, eggplant and rows of sunflowers standing tall in the garden and facing the sun, as if to celebrate the season.
After touring the garden, our group returns to the dining room to enjoy a chef-curated menu at the historic Logan Ives House, where the table is set for six with fresh flowers and a beeswax candle, which offers a flickering glow. We begin with fresh rolls still warm from the oven and a selection of olive oils to sample. Our server for the evening guides us through the dining experience, noting the nuances of each olive oil. The first oil is light and almost buttery with a peppery finish; the second oil is thicker and more robust with a lingering pepper-spice finish. The third is a customer favorite—an infused lemon olive that tastes bright and fresh.
Dining at the chef’s table is an intimate, relaxing experience where you can meet new people, while watching the chef and crew prepare your meal. On this evening, Alex and I are dining with visitors from Illinois and Ohio, who are enjoying their Wine Country experience. Each course is served with Long Meadow Ranch wine, and our server for the evening explains each wine-and-food pairing.
The meal begins with a bluefin tuna with pickled honeydew melon, paired with a 2017 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc, which is crisp and light. Topped with edamame and rye crumb, this dish is bursting with flavor and the rye crumb offers a nice texture. For the next course, we’re served free-range chicken wings with tomato and fresh basil, paired with a 2015 Anderson Valley Chardonnay. Glazed with a savory sauce, the chicken wings are moist and perfectly cooked.
Next, we enjoy pork belly, glazed in onion honey and infused with a deep smoky flavor. Served with a 2015 Alexander Valley Pinot Noir, which offers a lush, bright strawberry aroma on the nose, this is a distinct wine. This course is followed by grass-fed lamb, glazed in an herb sauce and served with a delicately fried white eggplant.
Each course is thoughtfully prepared with concentrated flavors and artfully plated. The meal ends with a 2017 Anderson Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir, which is dry with no residual sugar. This is the sort of wine you just want to sit on a porch and sip, while watching the sun set on the day. It’s the perfect accompaniment to dessert—a rustic blend of summer berries, iced tea, limonato and shiso. A surprising combination of flavor and texture, this was refreshing and the perfect end to an exquisite meal.
If you’re looking for an extraordinary dining adventure, reserve a spot at the chef’s table at Farmstead, where you can learn about food and wine and enjoy an authentic farm-to-table dining experience.
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