Truth be told, dining at Valette may have been the real reason for my trip. I did not need more wine – but can always buy more. However, watching Valette’s post on social media left me craving Dustin’s food. I had originally only planned a whirlwind weekend and there was no availability at the restaurant. But, they do offer curbside so that was my plan. Until I extended my trip. And found a reservation for just one person at 5:15 on Tuesday. Perfect!!!
Dustin Valette has created a welcoming patio off to the side of the restaurant that looks like it was supposed to be there all along. They built it over a few parking spots – my favorite parking spots. They seem to have capacity to sit around 45 people in a nice, socially distanced setting. Since Sonoma County isn’t allowing for indoor dining, restaurants are getting creative with their outdoor spaces. And I’ve had fun discovering them!
I was absolutely giddy – picture a 5-year old at Christmas. That was me. Oh, the poor staff that had to put up with my giddiness. I must have made such a memorable impression that my wonderful server spotted me sitting in my Jeep across the street a couple of days later and immediately recognized me. More on that later.
Valette offers a 5-course tasting menu. Or, they’ll let you do more courses if you want. I find that 5 is fine with me. I generally love a tasting menu. However, I wanted some very specific dishes. While chatting with my server about wanting to try the soup and the scallops and the duck that I really wanted tasting sizes, she asked – why don’t I do the tasting menu? And then she said she’d let me pick and choose the dishes on the tasting menu! WHAT?!?!? I don’t know if she’s supposed to do that. I know that other servers have led me to believe I would have no control over which dishes come out for each course. Maybe because it was early in the evening (I was the first person of the night to be seated). But this was beyond perfect!
First up was their Sashimi Grade Hawaiian Ahi Poke Style. I have always loved this dish. I get it often. But, the appetizer portion is HUGE and filling. I tried ordering it and the scallops once before off of the appetizer menu as my meal. It was too much food. But, the portion they plate for the tasting menu is perfect. Sure, the Ahi is yummy. But it’s the fried avocado that I love most (see the little avocado on the left side). It’s not even listed in the menu description!
Next was the first new dish I wanted to try – the Roasted Pumpkin Soup. And that soup also contains scallops. I really and truly wanted to lick the bowl. It was incredibly scrumptious. It was perfect for a fall dinner. I’m going to have to get to work trying to make pumpkin soup in my home kitchen.
The third course was the dish I get Every. Single. Time. It’s the dish that was featured on Food Networks’ Best Thing I Ever Ate. It’s SOOOO good! The downside is that the tasting menu version only contains one scallop. The regular appetizer contains two. It’s a big scallop. And there’s tons of other yumminess in the dish. I literally pick off the crust from the bowl and snack on it until it’s taken away from me. And it was just as good as I remember.
The fourth course was the second new dish I wanted to try – the Szechuan Crusted Duck Breast. Oh good golly! It’s my new favorite entree. I think the Duck Confit Lumpia was my favorite. If I just had a huge plate of that, I would be extremely content.
I should also mention the wine I was drinking. Typically I order wines by the glass to complement the dishes. Also, I travel alone and don’t need an entire bottle. But, I’m kind of a crazy fan of Sam Lando’s wines. And I know Valette carries his wines on both the BTG menu as well as by the bottle. I splurged on a whole bottle with the intention of finishing it at my hotel room that night. I actually finally finished the bottle 6 days later. It should be known that I’m a huge fan of the Coravin. I use it often. I don’t remove corks from bottles unless I have the intention of finishing the bottle. Obviously the restaurant removed the cork. That wine was sensational after only having 1 glass left 6 days later.
Finally came dessert. Again, my lovely server (gosh, I wish I remembered her name) asked if I was in the mood for chocolate or something else. I think my favorite dessert of theirs is the It’s Not a Snickers Bar. So, that’s what I got!
As expected, it was the perfect amount of food. Everything was just as delicious as I had hoped. It met my Valette craving for a minute. I did inquire about reservations for Thursday since I didn’t have plans. They put me on their wait list and I crossed my fingers. Note: I did not get off of the wait list. But, I did get another HUGE surprise. That’ll be in my final post of my Pandemic Wine Tour!