Saturday, August 29, 2009

MOUNTAIN WINERY - a perfect meal of a Summer's evening

To be clear, one cannot simply dine here. One has to be attending a show to make a reservation. But if you live in the Bay Area, and you like outdoor venues for music, this is the perfect place for a date. So with the obligatory "you can't eat here just cause" warning out of the way, I enjoyed our dinner so much the other night that I thought I'd write it up for anyone who hasn't been here and who might be on the fence.

When one dines out before a show, unless you make a point of finding a nice "pre-event restaurant" off-site, one usually doesn't expect to find much in the way of fine-dining at a theatrical venue. There are a few welcome exceptions, but a concert usually means a sandwich of some sort, perhaps chased by a beer. What it almost never means is an amazing meal at the venue itself.

At Mountain Winery, the meal offered at their main restaurant is served "pris fix" and is the diners' choice of items from a three course meal at the lovely Chateau Deck overlooking the Saratoga valley. The dining area is on a large terrace/deck affair that affords one an absolutely a breath-taking view. The meal is your choice of several items, one appetizer (a variety of soups and salads), one main, and a dessert. The portions are exceedingly generous and the price is a flat $55 a person. The BH and I enjoyed our meals for all three times we dined there over the summer, and the concerts were just amazing.

So the meal I'm sharing in this blog was our last of the summer. We began with the starters, I had the ahi poke salad and my husband went with what they called a Seafood Gazpacho. I had it on the previous occasion and it was delicious, more of a gigantic seafood boulliabase than what I would call a gazpacho, but it was appropriately chilled and extremely refreshing in the oppressive summer heat.

The next course was for me a Dungeness Crab Cakes (I am a sucker for any kind of crab cake) over sweet corn and asparagus. I have to say that I will be heartbroken when the summer ends and we find ourselves only remembering the sweet corn days of August. Sweet corn forming a puddle of tasty flavor under my food. Sigh. My BH gorged himself on a dish called Sauteed Rock Shrimp. His dish was a complicated affair of mushroom and spinach saute over cheese tortellini with a lovely lobster sauce. Mine a light fluffy cake in an airy bed of sweet corn and summer-savory sauce.

We ended the evening's meal with our dessert choices. I had the basket of berries, my BH the chocolate mousse cake. My berries were fresh and sweet, and the basket is this really decadent concoction of caramel that is hardened, but soft enough to chew without losing a tooth.

The chocolate cake was a good mousse cake, soft, fresh and chocolaty. The desserts are remarkably tasty for being produced all at once. That's the amazing trick of the dining here. Something like a hundred tables all turned over at once. They manage it all and the food is still good. But between the view and the apres-dinner entertainment, this is one meal that can't be beat.
Reservations can be made on the website, once show tickets have been purchased.
Price: $55 prix fixe
Dining time: They are on a show deadline, so not an issue. They will get you out in time to see the show.
Table size: Cramped

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