FARM at Carneros Inn Review
FARM at the Carneros Inn
4048 Sonoma Highway
Napa, CA 94559
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Lunch: 11:30 am – 3 pm
Dinner: 5:30 pm – 10 pm
Lounge: 11:30 am – midnight
The FARM at the Carneros Inn (why is the FARM capitalized?) is the bigger brother to the Boon Fly Cafe at the Carneros Inn, a popular and elegant resort / spa for those coming to Napa. Like many restaurants in the area, it focuses on Wine Country cuisine with a focus on organic, sustainable foods, usually locally grown. The food's good eating, but it's also on the pricey side, even for restaurants of this type.
FARM at Carneros Inn food
We started off with a tuna tartare which was a very thin layer of ahi tuna that rested beneath roasted baby golden beets, an aioli, and tiny pieces of crispy potatoes. Overall, we liked the dish as the ahi tuna was complemented with the salt and crunch provided by the potatoes. Although my wife thought it was a bit too salty, I thought it was fine for the dish. But we both agreed that $16 was a bit much.
For the entrees, I went with the juniperberry marinated venison leg which came with braised red cabbage, comice pear, chocolate sauce, and black pepper oil. Since I'd never gotten around to having venison before, I figured this was as good a time as any. I ordered it medium which I think was a mistake with the leanness of the venison. Medium rare probably would've been better. But it was a delicious, well-seasoned piece of meat nonetheless with some strong pepper accents, presumably from the black pepper oil and the juniperberry prep. Maybe the dish should've come with a slightly heavier side dish to help out with the leanness of the venison? Next time we head out to Hurley's, I'll have to compare venisons. Admittedly, the $32 price tag for two small cuts of venison had me scratching my head a bit. My wife had the pan seared black angus filet mignon. Red wine braised and sitting a top of sweet carrot puree, hers was definitely the tastier of the two dishes. Outside of a delicious piece of filet mignon, the sweet carrot puree was an interesting touch. My wife doesn't even like carrots, and she still thought it was a nice complement to the steak visually and gastronomically by giving the dish a creamy and somewhat sweet richness.
For dessert, we went with the warm chocolate fondant cake which was surrounded by huckleberries on one side, creme anglaise on the other, and a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream. Once you poke into the fondant cake, a rich chocolate filling oozes out to greet you. It was fine overall, particularly if you have a bit of red wine left over to go with the chocolate. They also had an apple galette that sounded really good, but we were too stuffed to get it (caramel calvados reduction and cinnamon ice cream).
FARM at Carneros Inn service and settings
The FARM has a pretty nice setup as you can see from this photo gallery. As you walk towards the entrance, you'll pass through a pretty open-air seating area with a large collection of sofas surrounding some enclosed flame pits. There will be a variety of people hanging out, sipping their wines, and looking all...uh...high net worth (Carneros Inn ain't cheap. You can basically boil down the types of folks at the FARM into two types: old and rich and young and fabulous (we were the two frumpy ones. I thought they were going to kick us out of the place.)). Inside, it still has a farm framework but rich interior, with a large fireplace as the centerpiece element, but it's actually painted in light colors that signal spring during the day but looks more earthy during the dimmed lights at night. Somewhat trendy-ish bar area playing the subtitled black and white foreign movies on a flat panel display looked a little out of place. Service overall was fine from our server. Maybe a little slow in getting to us for our order, but overall very helpful in suggesting items based on our tastes.
Price of our meal
1 appetizer, 2 glasses of wine, 2 entrees, 1 dessert, tax & tip = $160
Maybe the FARM at the Carneros Inn was a bit on the pricey side. I know it's supposed to be one of those "serious" restaurants, and it's not like the Carneros Inn is for the cost conscious folks of the world. But for the price tag, I guess we were expecting a bit more than what we got even though overall, it was a fine dining experience.