You have to marvel at Meadowood in Napa Valley, Calif. Chef Chris Kostow helms a three-Michelin-starred restaurant, but that's not good enough. The whole thing has to undergo a renovation under the direction of architect Howard Backen and designer George Federighi, one that stretches from the dining room to the kitchen, which is supposedly being outfitted with "new 'superior' equipment," and a five-seat Chef’s Counter, that was slated to reopen on March 12.
If Meadowood has gotten better, and you have a reservation, you're in for a treat. A tasting menu in September was on a par with a meal at Per Se, and was possibly one of the three best start-to-finish meals we ate all year. The opening dish involved cured horse mackerel with green grapes and a sorbet of unripe tomato was tart and texturally brilliant. But the amuse stuck in my head even more — cold "snow" from under which crunchy vegetal stems protruded, an innovative, side-open bowl. And for these reasons this dish made my list of most memorable meals of 2011.