La Toque Review
1314 McKinstry Street
La Toque website
La Toque dinner menu
La Toque chef's tasting menu
Directions to La Toque
Hours: Nightly from 5:30pm - 9:30pm
La Toque food
When we went to La Toque, you were required to get a multi-course menu of some kind. If you went for somthing smaller like a 3-course menu, then they said they'd give you slightly larger servings than say a 7-course tasting menu. We've never tested this out. But you should be aware of this before you go into the restaurant if you're just expecting to get one large entree.
I think overall, the food in La Toque is in the top tier of Napa Valley restaurants for overall experience. Maybe the lower end of the top tier but still a cut above the rest for style, taste, presentation, etc. It's definitely the top tasting menu experience in the city of Napa though.
Here's one tasting menu we had in 2010. Below is our amuse bouche. Kind of like a tempura fried vegetable of some sort that I didn't remember. *shrug*
Here is the seared artisan foie gras with pancetta wrapped medjool dates with brioche bread. Foie gras had a nice sear that's exaggerated by my lousy camera skills, but it went nicely with the plump sweet dates. Maybe it didn't need the pancetta as the foie gras was already plenty rich. Then again, who doesn't like pancetta? Maybe as my first course, I'd like something maybe a little lighter to start, but it was tasty.
Below is the daurade royale with spring garlic and sauce verte. A very tender, moist piece of fish but a lovely crunchy skin.
Probably our favorite dish of the evening was the white asparagus "fettucine" with lobster and morels. Very, very yummy. Sauce was wonderful, and it's hard to go wrong with lobster and morels. But the white asparagus "fettucine" was clever and fun like an al dente pasta. Pleasant surprise.
Here's the seared big eye tuna with lentils, green peppercorn, and bacon which was also solid.
Colorado range fed buffalo with its own "pot roast as a terrine" which was also well done. I don't know why more places serve buffalo. Since the tasting menu started off a little heavy, the leanness of the buffalo was a nice way of putting a floor on things.
A cheese course with cheeses that I don't remember. The interesting one is the cheese in the middle that sort of looks like a wood of the hen mushroom. Very pretty to look at. Almost a shame to eat.
And finally the dessert course, the quatre douceurs: 4 tasty desserts all at once. I forget exactly what this is. I think one of them was a mint gelato with chocolate. Another was maybe a strawberry shortcake of some sort. The best dessert is the chocolate concorde cake which has a few layers of meringue and rich chocolate mousse. Very rich and light at the same time. Apparently, it's his signature dessert.
La Toque setting and service
We've only been twice. The first time we went in the colder winter months around when they first opened nobody was there, and so the service was pretty good. The second time we went in the spring when it was packed, the service was surprisingly bad. We waited a while before the first contact from the waiter. Sometimes a plate was dropped off without any explanation from a host of different servers. Sometimes, we waited a long while between courses without any update on our food. When the service is there, it's good, but it was uneven one time.
We understood that they're busy and they were filling up a pretty large hotel dining area, but when you're shelling out $575 for a meal, the service has to be better. No excuses. Either shrink the capacity of the restaurant, beef up the staff during your busier times, or improve the staff operations.
The head sommelier is probably one of the more entertaining and honest fellows we've met for a tasting menu.
It's located in the relatively new Westin Hotel. It's your typical high-end decor in the area. Woody, earth tones but still has a modern look. If you're sitting closer to the kitchen, you can look inside and see the cooks cooking in the kitchen as the kitchen area has a pretty large window that gives you a pretty good view of the kitchen.
Price of our meal
7 course tasting menu ($135) + wine pairing ($85) for two + tax / tip = $570
Like I said before, there's a cheaper 3 or maybe even 5 course tasting menu out there. But we're suckers for large tasting menus even though I can barely remember what I ate by the time I'm done.