If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should never take anything for granted and we should savor the things that bring us joy! One of the ways I am embracing this philosophy is by treating myself to fancy weekday lunches. Luckily, Yountville is the perfect place to do this! With multiple world famous restaurants in just under a mile, Yountville is the ideal place to indulge in a leisurely lunch. Feeling the pressures of the week, my two co-workers and I decided we would spend the afternoon exploring the cocktail and culinary delights of Bottega Napa Valley and Coqueta Napa Valley.
Both restaurants are owned by Chef Michael Chiarello and are favorites among both locals and visitors. His flagship restaurant Bottega features fresh Italian food with a Napa Valley flair. It has long been a must visit for visitors venturing to wine country. Coqueta Napa Valley is a new addition and features authentic spanish tapas and a fantastic patio to enjoy them on. Both restaurants have an impressive cocktail program, a refreshing alternative after a day of wine tasting.
We were unable to decide which restaurant to enjoy, so we decided we would simply enjoy both! Bottega and Coqueta are both located within The Estate Yountville. This makes it easy to enjoy both restaurants for one meal!
We started at Coqueta for a cocktail and some small bites. Well, at least that was the plan! Once you sit down it is hard not to order the entire menu. The first rule of a fancy weekday lunch is to order yourself a fancy drink. We ordered Coqueta’s famous gin and tonic. Made with Fever Tree tonic and garnished with edible flowers it is unlike any gin and tonic I have ever had. Smooth and crisp, it was the perfect way to start our meal!
After our gin and tonics arrived to quench our thirst, it was time to decide what we wanted from the menu. We opted to start with a variety of Pintxos. Pintxos are small bites served on toothpicks. Each bite is perfectly balanced, slightly tangy and a great way to start off a meal. My favorite was the soft boiled quail egg with padron toreado’s fried chistora sausage.
Next up, we ordered a variety of tapas. The Huevos Nacionales (deviled eggs, pimenton aioli english pea and piquillo puree, saffron pickled potato and sturgeon caviar) were out of this world and almost too pretty to eat. The Gambas Negras (olive oil poached head-on gulf prawns with black garlic and chili sauce with grilled country bread) are always fun to eat and paired surprisingly well with the gin and tonics. My favorite is always the Pulpo a la Parrilla, wood grilled octopus with pimentón confit potatoes. The octopus was so tender you didn’t even need a knife to cut it!
By now it was time for drink number two! The bartender suggested the Guava Mojito, mint rum, guava, lime, ginger fresno espuma. It was so refreshing on a warm summer afternoon and the guava whipped cream was a fun surprise.
Round two (or three?) consisted of the Patatas Bravas (freshly dug, lightly smoked, crispy potatoes with bravas salsa and garlic alioli) a staple at any tapas restaurant and Croquetas de Polloc (classic chicken and english pea croquetas, crusted with chicharron, served with cured seasonal citrus). To end our tapas adventure we indulge in the Gaucho” Bistec, a tomahawk ribeye steak grilled over hardwood, served with moorish pepper oil and micro coriander. We all agreed it was some of the most tender steak we had ever had.
I know it might be hard to believe, but we were ready to move from Spain to Italy. We ordered some white sangria for the quick walk over to Bottega. The patio at Bottega is comfortable and spacious. Once seated you feel like you have been transported to an Italian cafe overlooking a piazza. They also have large fans to keep you cool on hot summer days!
First things first, we had to order another cocktail! This time we opted to each try something different. I ordered the Negroni Soda,made with Malfy Lemon Gin, strawberry-infused Campari, Cocchi di Torino Vermouth, smoked lemon, Fever-Tree Soda. It arrived at the table smoking from liquid nitrogen! One of my coworkers opted for the After “Spa” Water (Cucumber-infused Ketel One Botanicals, ube, Dimmi liquer, pea flower, lemon air, elderflower tonic) and the other had a Garden Highball, (Malfy Lemon Gin, celery, tarragon, fennel tincture, pressed lemon, tonic). Both were delicious, but the After “Spa” Water was by far the most impressive drink of the afternoon.
With our drinks situated we dove into round 5(?) of our fancy weekday lunch. The three of us opted to split three different things so we could experience a proper Italian meal without eating too much.
For our antipasti (appetizer) course we choose the Burrata. The Burrata comes with creamy Gioia burrata stracciatella, fresh heirloom tomatoes, marinated wild mushrooms, purslane, crispy rosemary croutons and Chiarello Family cabernet cavia. The cabernet cavia pops in your mouth and every bite was incredibly rich and delicious.
In true Italian fashion, our next course was a pasta course. All of Bottega’s pastas are freshly made in house. We chose the simply delectable Spaghetti alla Sophia Loren. Gragnano Spaghetti cooked in tomato leaf infused tomato water with aromatic oil, early girl tomato sauce, with blistered cherry tomatoes. Bottega also offers homemade gluten free pasta!
Now it was time for our secondi course (main course). Since it was a warm day we decided to try the Pesce Arrosto. The wood grilled whole fish with savory clams and PEI mussels in a tomato fennel broth, roasted potatoes, leeks and saffron aioli was cooked perfectly and made you wish you were at the beach.
No fancy lunch is complete without dessert, and being gluttons for punishment, we walked over to Kollar Chocolates. Kollar Chocolates is now operating out of Coqueta, so in a way, our meal came full circle! Chris Kollar, owner and chocolatier of Kollar Chocolates, is an award winning chocolate maker and Food Network Chopped Champion. His chocolates have been featured on Oprah’s List of Favorite Things and once you taste his chocolate you can see why! His truffles are as beautiful as they are delicious.
This truly was a day of embracing joy and living life to its fullest! Next time you are in Yountville, do as the locals do, and enjoy a leisurely lunch at Bottega or Coqueta. And remember, don’t forget to pick up a chocolate treat at Kollar Chocolates. Cheers!
Yountville businesses are taking COVID-19 very seriously and have many new procedures in place to make sure you are safe. Make sure you make a reservation, wear a mask until seated, and stay six feet apart while in public.