As the area recovers from the devastating North Bay fires, wine country restaurants are open for business and ready to provide world-class hospitality to locals and travelers alike. Owners and operators share their thoughts on their recent experiences – and what awaits you during your next visit.
Acacia House, St. Helena
Renowned chef Chris Cosentino, winner of Top Chef Masters, and his staff at Acacia House have been overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion as they were able to reopen last week with full operating hours for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Located in the Las Alcobas Hotel, the restaurant recently earned 3.5 stars from critic Michael Bauer for Cosentino’s bold-yet-luxe flavors, found notably in the Hamachi crudo and the Iberico pork schnitzel. As the team works together to help rebuild the community, they are offering a special three-course menu for $50 ($10 from each meal sold will directly benefit the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief). Make a reservation at Acacia House.
Café La Haye, Sonoma
Located in the heart of Sonoma, cozy Café La Haye is easy like a Sunday morning. The atmosphere is relaxed, the hospitality is warm, the menu is elegantly simple, and the food is superb. The beef carpaccio with fried oysters and the buttermilk-brined, crusted pork chop regularly win raves, and the chocolate silk cake is legendary. The wine list, which emphasizes local producers, is ample enough for oenophiles yet not overwhelming. “So many wonderful people are asking how they can help, and I’d like to say that there is still so much beauty here in Sonoma — and we’re open again and ready to welcome them back,” says owner Saul Gropman. Make a reservation at Café La Haye.
Compline is quintessential new Napa dining. You’ll find the best of the local bounty on its menu, which features refined seasonal dishes, both large and small, including grilled whole fish, a lamb duo, and mushroom confit – and there’s also a superb Wagyu burger and a brownie for dessert, mirroring the restaurant’s laid-back ambiance. “Dining out in Napa has always been centered around great wine, good food, locally sourced ingredients, and a close community. We’ve watched friends, neighbors, and visitors come to our valley to raise a glass together and enjoy a bite, even in a time of crisis,” says co-owner Matt Stamp. “Our kitchen is open late, the wine is always flowing, and we can’t wait to show off our downtown Napa hospitality,” adds Ryan Stetins, also a co-owner. Make a reservation at Compline.
The Girl & The Fig, Sonoma
You’ll find country food with a French passion at this homey spot in the Sonoma Hotel. The plat du jour menu (a thrifty $54 for three satisfying courses plus pairings) changes weekly, but you’re going to want to save room for cheese – in particular, the Fromage Tower, which includes six cheese selections, seasonal fruit, spiced nuts, olives, Mano Formate cured meats and charcuterie, FIG FOOD condiments, and baguette. Other dishes of note include the wild flounder meunière and the duck leg confit. Proprietor Sondra Bernstein says, “Our hearts remain with the many people who were affected by the California wildfires, and we do want our guests to know that our restaurants are open and we are trying to get the Fig Family back to work. The weather is beautiful in Sonoma, the skies are clear and blue, and our food is homegrown. Come visit us soon! We look forward to serving you.” Make a reservation at The Girl & The Fig.
This standout Japanese pub serves killer sashimi in addition to robatayaki and yakitori, like bonjiri (chicken tail) and kama (salmon collar). Geek out on the deep wine list featuring hard-to-find sake, bubbles, and local and global wines. Chef Curtis DiFede says, “Izakayas are all about relaxed dining in a warm, casual atmosphere. It’s a place for people to come together to eat and enjoy life. We’ve really seen that in the past couple weeks — the local community is united and stronger than ever. We can’t wait to welcome you here.” P.S.: Don’t skip dessert! All soft cream proceeds will be donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation for Disaster Relief. Make a reservation at Miminashi.
The entrées at this downtown gem are absolutely on point, but the pizza and the pastas are not to be missed. We know everyone says that, but we really mean it. Offerings such as torchietti with Niman Ranch short rib, horseradish crema, and chives and the classic Margherita belong on your Instagram. The restaurant, which just earned a Bib Gourmand from Michelin, has a wood-fired oven from Acino that has cooked thousands of pizzas to perfection in more than six years, and it is renowned for its housemade salumi. Co-executive chef Tyler Rodde says, “The Napa Valley community is one of strength and resilience, as displayed by the recent events. Yet, what this community is best known for is hospitality — graciously welcoming millions of guests into our dining rooms and tasting rooms, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, year after year. While our communities are really good at bouncing back from setbacks, what we do best is taking care of our guests, and that will never change.” Make a reservation at Oenotri.
They’re all about community at Torc, whose globally inspired menu features an array of dishes meant to be shared, including the Bengali sweet potato pakora, as well as mains, like the Bellwether Farm ricotta cheese ravioli with chanterelle mushroom bolognese and duck crackling. They work with local farms, foragers, and fishers and highlight ingredients “produced and harvested by like-minded individuals.” Owner and chef/wine curator Sean O’Toole notes, “Napa is a unique farming and hospitality based-community, and right now our amazing wineries and restaurants need your support more than ever. Please come join us for a day, evening, or weekend in downtown Napa and the surrounding valley. Hope to see you soon.” Make a reservation at Torc.
In case you can’t make it north to wine country, you can help by in the Bay area at select restaurants below:
The Alembic, San Francisco
Executive chef Rachel Aronow and The Alembic team are accepting gift cards to big box companies, such as Home Depot, Walmart, and Whole Foods. For those that prefer to make a monetary donation, visit their GoFundMe page. Make a reservation at The Alembic.
Hakkasan, San Francisco
In response to the devastating wildfires spreading throughout Northern California’s Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties, San Francisco’s stylish Hakkasan restaurant is donating 15% of the proceeds from three special menu items to aid in the relief and rebuilding efforts of those communities affected by the wildfires. Available until Sunday, November 26, specials include The Chinese Mule with Hanger One vodka, Junmai Sake, cilantro, ginger, lime, and Fever-Tree ginger beer, crispy prawn dumpling with plum sauce, and the green tea and apple choux bun with poached apples, green tea mousse, and apple sorbet. Proceeds will benefit the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief and Farmer’s Guild. Make a reservation at Hakkasan.
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Photo credits: Kali Maire Kirshman (Compline); Emma K. Morris (Miminashi); Andy Berry (Torc).