In Wine Country, the options for lunching are practically endless.
One place certainly not to miss is Farmstead Restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, where Executive Chef Sheamus Feeley turns out lusty, farm-fresh food.
Recently, I had a chance to lunch as a guest of the restaurant, which is housed in a soaring barn that’s been done up in rustic-chic with polished wood tables, a rough granite bar, farm implements turned into contemporary light fixtures and glass milk bottles holding sprays of wild flowers.
It’s a restaurant you can saunter into in jeans or shorts, and park yourself for a good long while.
That’s because you won’t want to stop eating.
Start with the housemade rolls that arrive warm from the oven in a cute little cast-iron pan. Smeared with cultured butter and topped with a sprinkle of crunchy, flaky Maldon salt, the rolls are sweet and fluffy like Parker House ones, only made moister with Russet potatoes. Psst, the rolls are free, but you have to ask for them. So, do make the request.
The restaurant gets much of produce, as well as its beef, from its sister property, the 650-acre Long Meadow Ranch. My husband and I shared an arugula salad that tasted like it had just been picked from the farm ($13). Juicy orange segments, Redwood Hills feta, lavender fried almonds and a zippy apple cider vinaigrette made for one lovely bowl of textures with a wake-me-up flavor.
My husband couldn’t resist the muffaletta sandwich ($15) piled high with soppressata, bierwurst, olive salad and jersey milk cheese on more exquisite bread. A side of crunchy coleslaw helped cut through the richness of this sammy.
As for me, I had to go with the chicken dish that’s been available at the restaurant since it opened a year ago and which Feeley says his customers will never let him take off the menu.
It’s easy to see why. The chicken ($24) is pit-grilled with a brick on top of it to make it cook more evenly. The result is a smoky bird with crisp skin, incredibly moist flesh and the sweet, earthy flavors of paprika and oregano. It’s served on a bed of creamy flageolet beans, lacinato kale and salsa verde — truly, the perfect accompaniment.
The best part? The chicken is a cinch to replicate at home.
Learn how by reading my story, which includes Chef Feeley’s recipe, at ViaMagazine.com.
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