Rustic fine dining in Napa
When you arrive at Carneros Resort and Spa on the border of Napa and Sonoma counties, the first thing you see is an inviting U-shaped building that brings to mind a contemporary and luxurious farmhouse or pristine stable yard. In the center is a large plot of green grass that begs for a Mexican blanket and picnic basket. But hold off on that idea — a far better meal awaits nearby.
Along one side of the building is the hotel’s market space and upcoming retail shop. The other half of the structure is home to Farm Restaurant. The lofty restaurant has a massive outdoor lounge space, known as the Pavilion, with fire pits and inviting couches dotted with orange cushions. It’s completely outdoors with high ceilings and space heaters for cooler evenings.
The restaurant itself has a small indoor bar lounge, bright dining room and spacious patio. It’s a lovely setting for farm-fresh fine dining. If you’re at the resort on a Sunday, be sure to make time for the brunch. The restaurant serves one of the area’s best spreads with a lot of creative food.
Our Inspector’s Highlights
• Unlike some Napa restaurants, it’s not difficult to score a reservation at Farm. It’s still somewhat of a hidden gem with delicious food, impeccable service and an unparalleled setting.
• With white paneled walls, dark wood floors, brown leather chairs, and white tablecloths, the décor is minimal, but chic and inviting. Lots of windows and French doors provide plenty of natural light, and the cathedral ceiling makes it feel airy. Chandeliers with orange circular hanging sconces add a pop of color.
• The kitchen is semi-open and visible through windows that overlook part of the dining room. White subway tiles line the floor, while gray ones line the half-open wall that separates the kitchen from the dining room.
• With wicker chairs, intimate tables and Edison bulb lighting, the patio is one of the most romantic spots to dine in Napa Valley. It’s also great for people watching.
• An herb garden resides next to the restaurant’s parking lot, and you’ll likely see a white-coat-clad chef in there snipping herbs to use for that evening’s service. Another garden is inside the gated property that provides Farm with much of its produce, while fruit trees that grow quince, pomegranates, figs and citrus dot the beautifully landscaped resort.
What to Know
• Executive chef Aaron Meneghelli is a local who has worked all over the valley and spent time cooking in France and Italy. He uses his exceptional understanding of what’s in season and what grows in the farmlands surrounding the resort to create what the region is best known for: classic Californian farm-to-table cuisine.
• The private dining room is ideal for small parties and special events featuring a long rectangular table that runs down the center of the space and can hold up to 18 people. Barn-style sliding doors ensure intimacy for those who want to remain separate from the rest of the eatery.
• There are two menus: one à la carte and a tasting menu that features five courses and allows the chef to take you on a culinary adventure.
• For some decadence at the Napa restaurant, add a fruit de mer platter, caviar flights, oysters on the half shell or add Italian black truffles to any of the dishes on the à la carte menu.
• Pasta — like orecchiette with morel mushrooms and fava leaf pesto or ricotta gnocchi with carrots — is incredibly fresh and made in house.
• Adventurous eaters looking for a quintessential Napa experience should indulge in the seasonal tasting menu.
• For brunch, select four items from a long list of scrumptious-sounding dishes for the table, like roasted baby beets with winter citrus or lobster rolls with crispy bacon and pink lady apples. Your meal is coursed and well portioned per person — no need to worry about divvying up the dishes because the restaurant takes care of it all for you.
• If you don’t have time to immerse yourself in a fine-dining experience at Farm, pop into the Pavilion for a craft cocktail, glass of wine and snack.
• The bar has a separate menu that is available daily and consists of sharable plates like artisanal cheese, housemade charcuterie, prosciutto flatbread and truffle fries.
• Hungry for something more substantial? There’s also New York strip steak and fries with mixed greens, risotto with stinging nettles, and fried chicken sliders.
• Cocktails are thoughtfully presented and feature the same farm-to-table ethos as the restaurant. The lavender lemonade is made with lavender grown on the resort.
• During the summer, the Pavilion features live music and patio games, like giant Jenga and corn hole, making it a lively spot for a group hangout.