Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley is without doubt one of the more romantic restaurants to visit in this beautiful area. From the balcony you can see the entire valley and eat some of the best food around, whilst the sun slowly sets.
However, its not only for its beautiful setting that Auberge du Soleil’s restaurant is worth visiting. The main point of attraction is of course the food and the wine. The list features a vast collection of some of California’s finest wines, alongside one of the more complete collections of their European counterparts. Like on the wine list, local products from all over California feature on the menu of executive chef Robert Curry. His food is undoubtedly among the finest in the Valley, with some dishes being even excellent. What is interesting to note is that the best dishes of this chef are the simplest, or at times most classical. The duck foie gras terrine for instance is of a delicate and smooth texture. It comes with refreshing raw pear that balances the richness of this velvety, decadent liver. What this dish clearly shows is the craftsmanship and the quality of the liver. It’s unpretentious and solid cooking that can’t be criticised.
Even better is a large roasted scallop with black garlic and corn. The corn is not overly sweet and balanced by the salty black garlic. This combination contrasts beautifully with the perfectly cooked and succulent scallop. What makes this interesting is the contrast between the strong tastes of the garlic and corn and the delicate, yet meaty scallop. This is sensible, product-driven cuisine of the highest order. That Curry is a fine technician is best demonstrated by his lobster with watermelon. In this dish, the perfectly cooked, bouncy lobster pairs quite interestingly with the freshness and crunch of the watermelon. It’s a refreshing summer dish, pure and enjoyable at the same time.
The food at Auberge du Soleil, in classic Relais & Chateaux fashion, is most competent. It is delicate, generally beautifully executed and based on solid produce. Robert Curry is a talented chef, with a great sensibility for marrying interesting and at times contrasting flavours with great finesse.