By Kelly Carter
Harvest season, or “crush,” that wonderful time of year in Napa Valley, is just underway. But that’s not what drew me to California’s famed wine country recently. I went to Yountville, arguably Napa’s culinary capital, to experience Lucy Restaurant & Bar at Bardessono, a hotel, restaurant and spa.
Superstar chef Thomas Keller may reign supreme with his restaurant empire that consists of The French Laundry, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc, but the talents of Executive Chef Victor Scargle have helped make Lucy, with its field-to-fork cuisine, a must-stop on the gastronomy tour.
With an on-site garden at his disposal, Scargle whips up fresh, innovative, dishes that embody the property’s modern aesthetic and eco-conscious spirit. The downtown Yountville hotel is California’s only LEED Platinum certified hotel, a rare ranking for a luxury property. (There’s also a wonderful spa that will be as kind to one’s body as Bardessono is to the environment.)
Before sitting down in the peaceful courtyard, I stopped by the kitchen to meet Chef Victor and was impressed to see a huge television screen on the wall that lets the kitchen keep an eye on diners.
Once I had the menu in front of me, I couldn’t decide whether to go for the milk-fed lamb or antelope chop from the “range” portion of the menu or the Maine diver scallops or wild salmon from the “ocean” section, I opted for for the six-course tasting menu with paired wines. It took all of my strength not to fill up on the bread, which I used as an excuse to eat the volcanic black salt from Hawaii lined up perfectly on the butter.
My feast began with Lucy’s cucumber salad (pictured above), featuring big ranch tomatoes so fleshy, juicy and red that I could imagine biting into one like I would an apple and cucumbers with more flavor than any I could remember eating.
The tempura soft shell crab followed by Tolenas farm quail (pictured above) then Schmitz dry aged striploin were all delightful. A cheese plate and dessert served as the perfect finishers. Paired wines hail from a variety of places, including Napa Valley, Willamette Valley and France. For those who travel with Fido the Foodie, there’s also a dining menu for dogs, which are welcome at the property and on the courtyard patio of the restaurant. Lucy offers indoor seating too but save that for the winter. For a special treat, book the garden table (pictured top) and dine among the ingredients in a spectacular setting.
Coincidentally, Lucy’s new sommelier Anani Lawson and his daughter dined at the courtyard table next to mine. I remembered his name as the former sommelier at The French Laundry and Per Se, Keller’s standout restaurant in New York. What a coup for Lucy to have him now.