crab leg, innards jelly, almond milk meadowood
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The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, CA)

I’ve been to the Restaurant at Meadowood once, seven years ago, and had a great meal. Since then, the restaurant has garned a third Michelin star (it had two at the time) and undergone a renovation, although Executive Chef Christopher Kostow is still at the helm. I’ve been wanting to return for some time and finally had a chance over the MLK Day holiday weekend.

Whereas an a la carte menu was available the last time I was here, the dining room menu is now tasting menu-only. $275 (before 20% service and tax) pays for about a dozen courses.

fried chicken wayfare tavern
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Wayfare Tavern (San Francisco, CA)

Each year, my cousins, brother and I take our grandmother out for a birthday meal. The timing is convenient as her birthday is around Christmas, so everyone is typically in town (except for my brother this year). Due to timing and scheduling we weren’t able to do a dinner, but were able to have a lunch the day after Christmas. Options were a bit limited for lunch on the 26th, but luckily Wayfare Tavern had room for the five of us.

Tyler Florence’s financial district restaurant has been going strong since opening in 2010. I’ve been here once, for lunch, and still remember the fried chicken and salmon I had that meal. We ordered both of those dishes again, as well as a bunch of others, for this post-Christmas lunch.

trestle sf
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Trestle (San Francisco, CA)

Trestle is the second restaurant from the Stones Throw team. It opened in Jackson Square in last year, serving a rotating prix fixe menu at an extremely reasonable $35. That price tag buys you three courses with the option to have a pasta course for just $10 more. It’s really a deal for San Francisco standards. Furthermore, the pastas came with an optional white truffle supplement for $20. Our party of four ordered two extras (a pasta and a risotto) with white truffles on each.

bottega yountville
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Bottega (Yountville, CA)

I’ve been to Michael Chiarello’s Bottega once when it first opened, way back in 2009. I enjoyed the lunch there and always thought to come back. I didn’t think it would take me 7 years to do so (so many options, limited time!), but this time I stopped in for dinner.

The restaurant was packed on this Independence Day weekend. We lucked out and managed a corner booth in the patio which turned out to be an an ideal setting on a warm summer evening. 

ad hoc
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Ad Hoc (Yountville, CA) [2]

There’s plenty of good restaurants in the Napa Valley, but for me a trip just doesn’t feel complete without a stop at a Thomas Keller establishment. There would be no French Laundry on this brief trip, but a stop here at the more casual Ad Hoc was in order. The restaurant serves a 4-course fixed menu for $52, although there’s regularly a supplemental dish offered as well. Since the menu isn’t published until the morning of the meal, it’s a little bit of a crapshoot depending on what you’re looking for. We lucked out this time as this evening’s menu featured steak – a ribeye to be exact.