We went to Yountville while on our honeymoon and didn’t eat a meal at any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants. Instead we had Italian at Bottega. And I got to eat duck, one of my most favorite meats.
As previously mentioned, we opted not to eat at The French Laundry well in advance of the trip, Ad Hoc was closed while we were in the area and we cancelled our dinner reservation at Bouchon. The day after the cancelled reservation, we went to Yountville with the intention of eating lunch at Bouchon and picking up some Bouchon Bakery goodies for our drive to Monterey. But once we were actually in Yountville, it was decided that we would much rather eat lunch at Bottega instead.
Bottega is Michael Chiarello‘s newish Italian restaurant, located just across the street from Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery. As we discovered on this trip, Joel far and away prefers Italian food to French food, so Bottega was an easy choice. That and I’ve adored Michael Chiarello for years as I used to rabidly watch his PBS show about 10 years ago. I have to admit that the idea of eating at his restaurant jazzed me up way more than the Thomas Keller restaurants did.
Lunch at Bottega was without question one of the best meals of our honeymoon. Obviously a large part of that was the suberb food. But part of it was also the atmosphere of the restaurant and the service.
My advice: do yourself a favor and eat at Bottega if you’re in the Napa Valley on vacation. And while you’re at it, get the confit duck if it’s on the menu. It might be pricy for a lunch entree but it was completely worth it.
A few more details about our meal are shown with the images below. Because we were there for lunch, I didn’t feel bad taking more than a few pictures of our meal. And at some point, our server started playing along as well and insisted on helping me set up one or two shots.
The salt at Bottega is served in delightful little ceramic pots with tiny spoons. And water is served in gorgeous hammered copper and stainless steel cups. Chiarello’s Napa Style website sells them but they are absurdly expensive. Don’t look at them because you’ll want them but won’t be able to believe the price.
Bread was served on the table with a yummy olive oil, herb and Parmesan cheese mixture. I think we may have asked for more bread.
Joel ordered a pasta dish, currently described on their menu as “Calabrian Sausage & Lemon Ricotta Tortellini spicy broccoli rabe, tomato-pork jus & mosto oro olive oil.” It was delicious, even if I did only get to try a little bit since Joel wanted it all to himself. (Not that I was willing to share much of my duck.)
My entree was “Confit of Half Duck mostarda di frutta, panettone bread pudding, red wine duck jus.” The Panettone bread pudding was marvelous. I’ve never much cared for Panettone as I don’t really like the candied fruit that’s in it and I think it’s kind of dry. But if you turn it into a savory bread pudding, it’s wonderful. I wanted more.
Confit duck! Confit duck! Confit duck! I have to admit that this was probably the most expensive lunch dish I’ve ever ordered, but I don’t care. It was that good. But when is confit duck not good?
I truly love duck and really will almost always order it if it’s on a menu and not served with something completely gross. Fortunately it was served with nothing gross at Bottega and it was sooooo delicious. I’m also lucky that Joel isn’t as big a fan of duck as I am as we never have to fight over who gets to order the duck at a restaurant. I just have to share a couple of bites.
In the middle of our meal, the table next to us was reset with fresh, crisp white paper and a new salt pot. As the busser walked away, he jostled the table and knocked over the salt pot. And I couldn’t help but take a photo of it as I was already enamored with the salt pot.
As I was taking the photo, our waitress came up and was a little shocked that I was taking a photo of the spilled salt. She even asked, “You’re not going to put that on Yelp are you?” I laughed and let her know there was no chance of me saying anything negative about the restaurant on Yelp.
I think these might have been tiramisu profiteroles. If they weren’t, they were still fantastic – mostly because of the chocolate sauce. You can’t really tell in the picture but our waitress is actually drizzling it on for the photo’s benefit.