The Charter Oak

1050 Charter Oak Ave, St Helena, CA 94574, USA

Simplicity reigns at The Charter Oak, the gamechanging restaurant owned by Christopher Kostow (who also helms the kitchen at The Restaurant at Meadowood). The family-style menu by chef Katianna Hong features “elemental” cooking, with dishes that highlight only one or two ingredients at a time. The best representation of this is the crudités, raw vegetables from the restaurant’s farm, served on a bed of crushed ice with a side of fermented soy dip. Another example? Crudo of kanpachi with grilled Rangpur lime and herbs. Most of the menu’s larger dishes are seasonal and prepared in a hearth at the center of the restaurant. Highlights include roasted pork shoulder with spiced molasses and winter squash, and beef rib grilled over cabernet barrels and beets dried over the fire. The most Instagram-worthy part of the meal may be the moment the server explains where to find the silverware—forks, knives, spoons, and napkins are stored in hidden drawers on the side of each table. During warm summer evenings, precede your meal with a few rounds of handcrafted cocktails in the open-air courtyard out front. The happy hour of half-priced beers and $3 shots of Fernet-Branca can’t be beat.

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An excellent restaurant in Napa

Simplicity rules the day at the Charter Oak, the latest restaurant from the Restaurant at Meadowood’s Christopher Kostow. The St. Helena eatery—in the building that once housed a Napa Valley favorite, Tra Vigne—specializes in relatively simple dishes done to perfection. Exhibit A: the crudité plate, which quite literally amounts to a bowl full of freshly picked vegetables. Exhibit B: beef ribs grilled over cabernet barrels and beets dried over the fire. This is elemental cuisine. One of the restaurant’s true flourishes is that every table has a hidden drawer in which guests can find silverware, napkins, and magic that’s rare on the Napa dining scene.

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