We left cloudy San Francisco to find our way to Napa Valley where the leaves were red, yellow, orange and gold. Though the skies turned from blue to grey, we arrived at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. This is a branch campus of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York. The Greystone Winery dates back to 1889 as the largest stone winery in the world. Today, the CIA teaching kitchens are one of the finest professional culinary institutions in the world. So why wouldn't you want to dine at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant in Culinary Institute of America? As a Napa Valley tourist attraction, will this be on your must eat San Francisco list? Or would you have wished you made a reservation at Bouchon instead?
Inside Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant is a grand space of pastry kitchen, appetizer stations and full scale kitchen surrounding the main dining area. The service is superb and prompt. We chose a semillon, saxon brown, cricket creek 2011 to accompany our lunch. This was a bright vino with pear, fig, apples and mellon notes. Unfortunately, it wasn't very memorable. Our neighbors diners, later running into them again at the CIA store, told us for a dollar more, we could have bought a full bottle. Suckers. At least that makes four of us.
Steamed clams and mussels 12: fennel sausage in caramelized onion broth. The server had the kitchen split this into two for us to share. The execution of the mussels were spot on. There were no stinkers. But the broth was overly salty. Strong flavors of the smokey sausage overshadowed the freshness of the mussels. It was an ok start.
Crispy skin ruby trout 28: the trout fish was filled with dungeness crab, blood orange and lima bean salad. Served with sweet pea shoots and pickled red onions on side. The fish was cooked perfectly but lacked seasoning. Lima beans itself were potato-like, grainy and really needed a something bright to liven the pods. Perhaps some mustard greens and cilantro?
Crispy creamy risotto 24: wild mushrooms and dinosaur kale. Served with a deep fried korokke and sauteed wild spores. This was the best dish of the meal with difference contrasting textures and flavors. I like the firm texture of black kale against creamy risotto and sponge like textures of wild mushrooms. The dish was very earthy and warm on a chilly autumn day.
Overall the meal at Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant was pleasant but really was not memorable. Execution was excellent but lacked flavor. Prices were fair but ideal. Because honestly, I can be in Bouchon Yountville and had Truite Poelee or Moules a la Basquaise for the same price.
After our meal at Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant we toured the campus of Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. There appeared to be a conference happening and some food demonstration. And we found that $10 bottle of wine our friendly neighbors so graciously pointed out. Yes, the irony. But it was a good experience. Alright on to the next winery we go!
2555 Main St, St Helena, CA 94574, United States
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