Napa’s Compline — Your One Stop for Everything
For most folks, a trip to the Napa Valley means stops at a tasting room, a restaurant, and perhaps a wine education center.
Downtown Napa’s Compline makes that effortless by combining all three into one.
Master Sommelier Matt Stamp, formerly of the French Laundry in Yountville, and Ryan Stetins, former wine director at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, opened this intriguing concept in 2017 in the First Street Napa development of shops, restaurants and the Archer Hotel.
The name is from the Latin for “completion,” a term used by monks who would come together at the end of the day to break bread.
As Stamp explained on a recent Saturday evening when I was invited in to dine as a guest, “Wine bars where you get some cheese and charcuterie just always felt like something was missing. I wanted to offer a more full experience.”
He certainly has by offering a bit of everything: a wine shop offering interesting varieties from producers from around the globe, with most bottles priced between $10 to $40; wine education classes led by Stamp; a fun “blind wine” night on Sundays in which patrons can test their own acumen; and a restaurant led by Chef Yancy Windsperger, who cooked previously at Morimoto, Spago, and Jose Andres’ Bazaar, which even features a late-night $10 taco special (9 p.m. to 11 p.m.).
You can choose a bottle from the shelves and enjoy it that night with an additional and very reasonable $15 corkage fee.
Compline is a laid-back affair, where folks come in jeans to grab a seat at the bar or a table to peruse the chalkboard menus. Try a glass of wine you’ve never had before, alongside an order of duck fat fries ($8) or go indulge in a full meal.
We put ourselves in the hands of our server, as well as Stamp, when it came to the wines. Given what we ordered, they recommended the Tokaj Rumin Bott “Csontos” 2016 ($18); Fiano di Aveillino Guido Marsella Campania ($15); and the Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Domaine de la Pepiere “Briords” Loire Valley ($13). The single-vineyard Tokaj, made by one of the few female winemakers in that region, is crisp and mineral forward. The Italian white has more body with a resiny quality and creaminess, while the Muscadet is refreshingly acidic.
All went beautifully with the tender octopus ($16) with a swipe of pureed Monterey seaweed and fermented mustard greens for a peppery, briny bite.
The meaty duck and pork dumplings ($14) are sweet and sour saucy with a hit of ginger.
The country pork terrine ($16) is richly porky tasting with a coarse, dense texture. It’s almost like upscale Spam.
On the weekends, Compline often offers specials that are meant to be shared. We went with one of them, a whole branzino that’s grilled, then presented at the table before being whisked away to be deboned.
It’s a dish that makes you appreciate how delicious a simply cooked fish can be. The skin gets crackling crisp while the flesh remains fluffy and moist. A dollop of spiced up preserved lemon is off to the side, offering a nice alternative accompaniment to just a cut lemon half to squeeze on, though that was also on the plate and nicely charred for smoky depth. Broccoli, cauliflower and greens round out the dish. Don’t forget to dig for the cheeks of the fish — the most succulent part.
For the dessert, there’s a divine flourless chocolate cake ($8). The layer cake slice is done up with a thick chocolate frosting and a dollop of huckleberry compote as a counterpoint to all that rich chocolate.
In one fell swoop, I had tried some wines I’d never tasted before and enjoyed food that definitely hit the spot on a winter night. All in one easy stop.
More to Explore in Downtown Napa: Miminashi