There is a new place in town and you do NOT want to miss out! Coqueta Napa Valley is the newest addition to the already impressive Yountville Dining scene. Whenever there is something new in town I have to check it out, so I rounded up two of my girlfriends and we descended on Coqueta for a girls night.
Coqueta means “flirt” or “infatuation” in Spanish and is meant to represent the Restaurant’s exploration and interpretation of Spanish Cuisine, from wine to cocktails to delicious tapas and paella. Located in the middle of Yountville, Coqueta is the perfect place to relax, try something new, enjoy good food and truly experience Yountville. The three of us decided to dine on a perfect Monday evening and we were blown away from the moment we sat down.
Seated outside on the large patio the first thing we noticed were the fun plates! Created by Calistoga Pottery, a Napa County local company, each plate was colorful and had a fun design on it such as a matador and a self portrait of Salvador Dali. The colorful plates were a great indicator of the colorful meal that was to come.
First things first when it comes to a girls night…what to drink?! We decided to start with the house made gin and tonic and my goodness we were not disappointed. Served in stemless wine glasses, with fresh flowers and the largest ice cube I had ever seen, it was the prettiest drink I have had the pleasure to drink. Drinks in hand we were ready to feast.
In my opinion, there are very few things better to start a meal with than a cheese and charcuterie plate. Lucky for me Coqueta agrees. First up was the “El Gran Plat Cap” featuring Manchego Crudo, a fantastic farmstead sheep’s milk cheese, drizzled with olive oil and rosemary, Jamon Serrano, spanish cured ham, Marcona almonds, a personal favorite, extra virgin olive oil torta, pan de cristal, and tomato confitura-think tomato sauce but so much better and ready for dipping.
Moving down the menu we decided to try the Salmon Ahumado. This Spainish take on a lox and cream cheese bagel; consisting of smoked salmon with queso fresco, truffle honey and shaved black truffle on top. As my friend Samm so eloquently put it, it’s a party in your mouth. The flavors of the honey, truffle and salmon melded so perfectly well together that it amazed all of us that we had never thought to put honey on smoked salmon before! Although it’s definitely hard to choose I think that the Salmon Ahumado was my favorite dish of the whole evening.
After our spanish toast it was time to move onto the tapas! There are two sections of the tapas menu: Tapas Frias, cold tapas, and Tapas Calientes, hot tapas. Looking at the menu we wanted to order every single thing…and we did from the cold tapas section. To start, we decided to do a “potato course” and ordered the Patates Xips y Salsa Aperitivo, smokey potato chips with shaved manchego and membrillo-vermouth vinegar, and a tapas calientes, Patates Bravas, crispy potatoes with bravas salsa and garlic aioli. From the moment the Patates Bravas were set on the table our mouths started to water. They were a terrific amount of crispy and the bravas sauce was flawlessly seasoned. I have a thing for potato chips so the Patates Xips were a must try. They had a nice spice on their own and then with the vinegar they were unique and delicious.
Next up we tried two tapas frias. First, the Cogollos, flash grilled baby gem lettuce with chicken essence, toasted hazelnuts and crispy chicken skins. The first bite of the Cogollos reminded me a crisp fall day and enjoying something hearty by the fire. The lettuce was the ideal vessel for the flavors. Next we tried, the Calabacin a la parrilla, summer squash with romesco, shaved manchego and crushed marcona almonds. The romesco really made this dish shine. It was bright and flavorful and simple.
During our tapas course we happily sipped on Hill Family Estate Albarino. Its bright acidity and floral notes made it the perfect Napa Valley wine to pair with our Spanish feast.
Now it was time for the main event…PAELLA! Coqueta offers two paellas and they have to be ordered thirty minutes in advance. Pro tip: order your paella right when you sit down so its ready when you have finished with your tapas. We decided on the Paella Valencian Style. A true Spanish dish this paella makes you feel like you are eating in the fields of Catalonia. Paella Valencian is made with bomba rice, braised rabbit and chicken, baby green beans, red pepper, meyer lemon, rosemary, roasted chicken broth, and lemon aioli. This was all of our first time having rabbit and we were each blown away by the richness and fullness of flavor. The rice was the perfect paella crispy and the meyer lemon added a brightness against all the rich flavors. If you plan a trip to Coqueta you do not want to miss the paella! I can’t wait to go back and try the Paella Mar y montana.
Paired with the Paella Valencian was Chiarello Vineyards 2014 Zinfandel. The spicy and fruity notes in the zin paired terrifically with the heartiness of the paella
After the Paella Valencian we decided to do as the Italians do (yes I know wrong country) and finished our meal with two salads. The first salad, Ensalada de Kale had crispy lacinato kale, pickled stone fruit, candied almonds, cana de cabra, cherry confitura and warm fresh garbanzo vinaigrette. The crispy kale was not only tasty but it was beautiful too. The other salad we decided to try was the Ensalada de Hinojo consisting of shaved fennel with dry cured black olives, guindilla vinaigrette, pickled kumquats, toasted pine nuts, and fennel fronds. This salad almost made us forget how full we were.
No girls night is complete without dessert. We opted for the mini manchego cheesecakes with caramelized popcorn and Tres Chocolates. The cheesecakes were the perfect bite-sized dessert and the Tres Chocolates reminded me of the “death by chocolate” dessert my grandmother used to make me for birthday. We washed all of that down with a glass of Sherry…another first for me.
There is no doubt that there are lots of amazing restaurants in Yountville but you would be remiss to not book a table at Coqueta during a wine country trip. The people, food, drinks and atmosphere make for the quintessential wine country evening with a splash of Spanish culture.