Charlie Palmer is taking over Wine Country. The legendary chef already has a national roster of more than a dozen restaurants, including Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, and now, he’s opened another top destination in St. Helena.
The new Harvest Table is set inside Harvest Inn, and it’s a showpiece. The stately stone-and brick-clad hotel has been a luxury retreat since it opened in 1975, and yet oddly enough, it never had a flagship restaurant.
Palmer has changed that, with lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and upscale menus created in tandem with chef Levi Mezick (formerly of the posh Restaurant 1833 in Monterey).
Even before the restaurant opened, the Palmer team was hard at work, with culinary horticulturist Laura McNiff installing a collection of five on-site gardens. Flourishing with the seasons, staples include heirloom carrots, kohlrabi, artichokes, tomatoes and chives.
Next up was building out the space, transforming a well-worn retro lobby into a chic, airy space with high-beamed ceilings, a blown glass teardrop chandelier, smooth wood finishes and a big, brick fireplace.
As is Palmer’s signature, many ingredients are local, sourced from purveyors such as Tolenas Farms Quail, Masami Cattle Ranch, Mary’s Chicken, Sebastopol Berry Farms, and Bera Ranch Stone Fruit.
The Cal-Med farm to table menu changes frequently. Diners might begin with snacks like whole roasted baby carrots bathed in buttermilk and sprinkled with vadouvan and granola; or appetizers like grilled asparagus with crispy breaded egg, Caesar emulsion and dollops of crunchy orange trout roe.
For entrées, there is pan roasted squab breast with poached plums, stinging nettles and fermented turnips in sherry squab jus, or pan roasted whole King salmon with crushed potato, Castelvetrano olives and herb shellfish broth.
Another popular feature is the daily changing family style meal, like a whole roasted truffle chicken with Parmesan polenta, morel mushrooms, and English peas.
Lunchers get their own special incentive, drawing from the regular menu (a luscious fontina cheeseburger) or the prix fixe menu. For $20 (two courses) or $30 (three courses), you can get a starter like roasted corn soup with lime, piquillo pepper and lovage, and an entrée like smoked salmon sandwich. The third course is dessert, like delicious Neapolitan ice cream sammies.
Here’s a tip - after a meal, wander the property’s resort-style grounds, set with sculptures, flower gardens, and secret patches of trees and greenery.
Details: Harvest Table, One Main Street (Harvest Inn), St. Helena, 707-967-4695, harvesttablenapa.com.
Tip: The new Harvest Table features valet parking. Why not make the whole experience valet-style, with door-to-door car service from Pure Luxury Transportation?