A New Napa Valley Dining Experience Is Demystifying Caviar

Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge from chef Thomas Keller supports sustainable caviar while celebrating it as an everyday luxury.

A dish at Thomas Keller's Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge.

Chips and dip, caviar style.

Photo by David Escalante

This past summer, Yountville gained its newest restaurant from one of its most storied chefs, Thomas Keller. Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge originally debuted as a pop-up in the summer of 2021, but its make-every-day-a-celebration vibe was auspiciously received. Now it is chef Keller’s latest addition to his Yountville portfolio, including his legendary Bouchon Bistro, Ad Hoc, and the French Laundry.

The lounge is a physical representation of the mission behind Keller’s caviar company, Regiis Ova, founded with caviar expert Shaoching Bishop in 2017: to support sustainable caviar farming and provide chefs with high-quality caviar at more affordable prices. However, the lounge also serves guests, filling a gap that Keller and Bishop realized was missing in downtown Yountville.

“We wanted to offer a place that highlighted fun and this special product in a vibrant atmosphere,” explains Bishop. She insists that caviar can be an everyday luxury; it simply requires a little demystifying—and the lounge provides this opportunity.

“Our volume also helps to achieve the quality and consistency we deliver to our clients and guests,” says Bishop, highlighting the brand’s limits regarding quantity and raising awareness about the scarcity of sturgeon, which is often what makes the product so sought after.

“The sturgeon farms we work with strictly adhere to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora [CITES],” Bishop adds. This ensures that “the conservation of sturgeon and adequate labeling for each tin is enforced to deter the selling of illegal, wild caviar and allows the ability to trace each tin to a specific fish.”

Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge interior

Bay Area interior designer Ken Fulk worked on the lounge’s interiors.

Photo by Christopher Stark

Bishop has spent nearly two decades in the caviar industry. She was formerly managing director and CEO of Sterling Caviar and general manager of TNC Holding Co., one of the oldest brands in caviar. She ensures flavor complexity, freshness, and firm textures but also stresses that quality starts at the source.

Regiis Ova sources sturgeon from around the world, including Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Bishop points out how the farm in Asia promotes healthy sturgeon populations by releasing millions of juveniles into the wild. “Other farms, such as ours in South America,” Bishop continues, “use local krill fish as feed, a more sustainable option than purchasing feed abroad.”

In addition, “It is critical we continue to work with farms whose ethos matches ours,” Bishop stresses, which is why Regiis Ova works with sturgeon farmers who it has built personal relationships with over the past 15 years.

The relaxed lounge in Yountville was designed by San Francisco–based interior designer Ken Fulk, who is known for his whimsical yet sophisticated projects, including the Chrysler Building’s Cloud Club and Casa Grande in Mexico. It welcomes guests with a biophilic terrace where olive trees shade sleek settees and overflowing ceramic planters blend into the jade-walled interiors. It’s dark and regal but still casual. The setting matches the menu, which spotlights small plates like French onion dip topped with caviar and served with kettle-fried potato chips—as well as caviar flights for those seeking to make their experience educational.

“Regiis Ova offers four caviars, each from a different sturgeon species,” says Bishop of the types available at the lounge and sold directly to restaurants around the world. They include Ossetra, which Bishop says is the most widely recognized species around the globe; hybrid caviar, a crossbreed between kaluga sturgeon and Amur sturgeon; Siberian; and white sturgeon caviar. “The different species result in a varied selection of caviars, each imparting a unique flavor profile, texture, firmness, and color,” says Bishop.

So don’t be bashful, engage, ask questions, and try new dishes to better understand and appreciate the nuances of the tiny glistening beads known as caviar or, as Regiis Ova’s Latin translates to, royal eggs.

Jillian Dara is a travel and culture journalist with an enthusiasm to learn from the world. She traces her wanderlust back to age eight, when her family relocated to the island of Bermuda. Since then, she has lived in London, Santiago, Boston, and New York City.
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