From their calm and courteous demeanor, you’d never guess that this time of year is probably the most nerve-wracking for the staff that puts together the upscale Sunday brunch buffet at the Archer Hotel in downtown Napa.
That’s because that brunch service is the only one in the Napa Valley that’s held atop a five-story building in an expansive open-air rooftop pavilion. If the weather is ominous –then and only then — the brunch is moved from Charlie Palmer’s Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar inside to the hotel’s Charlie Palmer Steak on the ground level.
With this winter’s rash of stormy weather, the decision on where to hold brunch each Sunday has not been an easy one to make.
“Will it be raining? Will there be too much wind? It’s very stressful. I don’t think there’s any other restaurant here that has to take all that into consideration,” said a manager, who noted that the decision on the location of the brunch must be made the night before in order to give the staff enough time to prepare.
I lucked out in late-February when I was invited as a guest of the hotel to stay overnight and try the brunch because the rains held off just long enough for me to enjoy the repast al fresco.
The boutique Archer Hotel, which opened in 2018 is one of six nationwide. Unlike the Hotel Healdsburg in Healdsburg, it is not owned by the Charlie Palmer Group, even if the chef has two restaurants within the Napa property. Whereas the Hotel Healdsburg is sedate Wine Country chic, the Archer Hotel has more glitz. On the evening I was there with my husband, we noticed quite a few women going for dinner and cocktails in spangles and deep-V decolletage, giving it an almost Vegas-like air.
The rooms feature dramatic four-poster beds, and balconies that sport outdoor electric fireplaces.
Besides the usual in-room fridge, there is also a separate wine fridge — a very thoughtful touch when you’re in Wine Country.
Brunch is definitely a posh affair. It’s $45 per person; $18 for children under 12. And it includes bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys for two hours.
From up top, you can gaze at downtown Napa. Tables are set under pergolas with ceiling fans for those balmy summers. There are portable heaters nearby to warm things up, too, which we definitely took advantage of on this recent chilly, gray morning.
You get a choice of starters for the table included in the price: a charcuterie and cheese platter or a Dougnut Wheel, a cake stand loaded with a half dozen doughnuts and three dipping sauces. Those who know me will know I went with the latter with no hesitation.
You get two each of cinnamon-sugar, chocolate glazed, and almond-flecked doughnuts, along with caramel, chocolate and raspberry sauces. The doughnuts have a denser brioche-like texture and are not achingly sweet.
Walk a few feet over to the buffet area to help yourself to everything from more pastries (muffins, croissants, and danishes) to several salads including a fregola one full of artichokes and olives. There’s bagels with smoked salmon and all the fixings. The fresh fruit bowl holds a nice selection of blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and melon to which you can add some Greek yogurt, as well as coconut and chia seed granola.
Warming trays hold cheddar biscuits done up with a poached egg and country sausage gravy; pan-seared salmon with a citrus beurre blanc, prime rib with au jus and horseradish, and fried chicken and waffles. There’s also home fries, sauteed mushrooms with herbs, applewood smoked bacon, and chicken and apple sausages, not to mention desserts.
It’s quite the spread, and quite the way to spoil yourself in Wine Country.