The Lakehouse at Calistoga Ranch
580 Lommel Road
Calistoga, Calif. 94515
Call (707) 254-2800
[Photos courtesy of The Lakehouse at Calistoga Ranch]
Nestled in a private canyon in Napa Valley, The Lakehouse at Calistoga Ranch offers a magnificent wooded setting of oak groves for a romantic getaway. And the restaurant, which overlooks Lake Lommel, is fully private, meaning you must be a guest at the resort to reserve a table there for an intimate dining adventure.
An Auberge Resort, Calistoga Ranch opened in 2004 and offers a private getaway for its guests. The resort features 72 lodges, and if you ask the locals, it’s also a haute spot for professional athletes, actors and entertainers. Word has it that Lady Gaga, Christina Auguilera and P. Diddy have all been guests there, which isn’t so surprising since Calistoga Ranch has somehow managed to combine fine dining with a casual lodge-like vibe in a natural setting so magical it seems enchanted. The restaurant and lounge is both modern and rustic, offering a low-key setting where you can sink into the experience and relax. Glass walls add to the ambience, bringing the outdoors inside.
Alex and I arrive on a Saturday evening and begin with cocktails in the lounge. If you’re looking for something light and refreshing, try the Pomegranate Press, made with Belvedere Vodka, pomegranate and seltzer. “It’s a classic cocktail,” says bartender Dylan Blumberg. The pomegranate seeds add a festive garnish.
Later, we’re seated for dinner in the restaurant and our server, Mike Gonzales, brings a decadent small bite—or amuse-bouche, as the French say, which means “mouth amuser”—a small red potato with crème fraiche and salmon roe. It’s an exquisite beginning that tastes like the ocean.
We begin with the roasted squash bisque, a savory vegan dish with coconut and roasted pepitas, which gives the soup a nice crunch. Soto follows this with another small bite that’s not on the menu—pork belly, which is pan seared with an ancho chile glaze and has a mild heat and a slightly sweet fruity flavor. Served on a puddle of carrot puree and garnished with Brussels sprout petals two ways, fried and roasted, this is a spectacular dish.
Calistoga Ranch sources its ingredients from the valley, and it also has its own wine, producing a Chardonnay and two Cabernet Sauvignons. The executive chef is Ross Kilkeny, but on this evening Caleb Soto, sous chef, is running the kitchen. “We like to source locally and keep the integrity of the ingredients, showcasing the flavor without overpowering the food with spices and butter,” says Soto. The chef has also created a special four-course menu for vegans and vegetarians.
For our entrees, Alex ordered the liberty duck, a unique dish that’s popular with their guests, served with pomegranate and a savory granola reminiscent of Thanksgiving dressing. I ordered the Pacific wild salmon with herbed grits, Brussels sprouts and mushroom bacon that gives it a rich, woodsy flavor. We enjoyed dinner with a 2013 Calistoga Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced with fruit from the notable Beckstoffer to Kalon vineyard, known for its world-class Bordeaux-style varietals.
For dessert, Soto sent a selection of desserts. The salted caramel budine is rich and decadent, served in a small glass jar and topped with a moon-shaped pecan sandie. The blood orange tart is fresh and just the right amount of sweet, served with mascarpone ice cream and pistachio crumble. The arroz con leche cake is a beautifully simplistic creation with rice-based ice cream, and a cinnamon spice cookie.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a venue to celebrate a special occasion, make a reservation and book a lodge at Calistoga Ranch, where you can relax and rejuvenate in a lush natural setting, and enjoy the innovative culinary creations of the chefs.
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