Looking for a star

I almost never write about a restaurant twice, but today is the exception.

We went to FARM  at the Carneros Inn last Friday night, and dinner was so good, the service so polished, the experience so delightful that I cannot stop wondering why this restaurant does not have a Michelin Star. FARM is vastly superior to, for instance, flour + water or FIVE, yet has not been granted even the lesser “bib gourmand” rating. The omission is glaring and shameful.

Dinner began with a tiny amuse bouche which I cannot properly describe but will not soon forget. I wasn’t planning on writing this, so I took neither notes nor photos.

Gail and i both followed with the winter vegetable soup, good enough to be an entire meal, if one was willing to forgo the remainder of the menu.

Gail had the lamb three ways, a spectacular presentation of lamb tenderloin, crispy lamb skin and something yet more indescribable with unforgettable goodness. She barely finished part of it and then demanded to switch plates with me–which we commonly do so we can both enjoy a greater number of flavors. The problem here is that we both wanted the risotto– I was savoring the Carnaroli Risotto, with Maine Lobster, meyer lemon and the addition (for an upcharge, of course) of 4 grams of Australian black truffles. But I traded, like the good Boy Scout that I used to be. The lamb was truly excellent, it just wasn’t the as incredible as the risotto.

Our friend Reed was with us. Along with our friend Mike Patton, she had the chicken with the truffled stuffing, which was about the best chicken I can remember.  Reed maintains a tiny figure, but still managed to completely clean her plate–in fact, all 5 of us at dinner had perfectly clean plates, not a crumb left.

A meal that good deserves dessert. I always hate it when they offer a soufflé after I’ve finished my main meal, and tell me it’s a 20 minute wait. Why don’t they mention that inconvenient little fact about 20 minutes earlier?  Still,Harry ordered one and we thought we’d all enjoy another dessert first, then share the soufflé.  Great plan, Harry.

Of course, then the soufflé came out of the kitchen first.  So we shared it, then dug into our individual sweets.  I had the arrancini, deep fried rice balls somehow magically turned into dessert.  Harry had the beet velvet cake. That’s right, beet. Sounded weird, tasted great.

Service at FARM is first rate.  It’s always impressive when a swarm of staff emerge from the kitchen with the meals for everyone at the table, so it can all be served at one time.  Everything moved swiftly, smoothly, elegantly.  Plates were delivered, plates were cleared.  Water, iced tea and bread were replenished as if by magic. The staff are perfectly trained, competent and professional.

FARM has become my favorite upscale place to enjoy a great meal. You can’t do any better unless you can score a reservation at the French Laundry, and that takes an act of Congress.  Don’t wait for Congress.  Head to Napa now.

FARM Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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