From Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip
I’ve dined on my share of trains, from Amtrak to Eurail, so when the folks at Napa Valley Wine Train invited me to experience the Vista Dome, I didn’t have high expectations. Any chef will tell you that preparing gourmet, multi-course meals in a small, moving kitchen is a challenge. Chef Kelly Macdonald didn’t appear fazed by these obstacles. In fact, he thrives in this environment and turns out top-notch California cuisine on a daily basis.
Our lunch began with a glass of sparkling wine and a choice of Flourless Yam Ravioli or Smoked Salmon Crepe Rosettes. Fortunately, I had my husband along for this trip so we were able to divide and conquer. The ravioli was stuffed with goat cheese and served with a grape relish alongside. Other than the initial glass of sparkling wine included with the meal, additional wines are offered at different price points. While we didn’t order wine, the menu suggested Caymus Vineyards 2006 Conundrum at $10 a glass to accompany the ravioli. The smoked salmon crepe rosettes served with American Caviar and cream fraiche was the winner of the two choices and paired well with our sparkling wine.
Our first course was a baby lettuce salad with candied walnuts and smoked goat cheese in a honey cider vinaigrette or the soup du jour, a lobster bisque. I was pleasantly surprised to find five entree choices, including a fresh seafood or vegetarian option. Our knowledgable and friendly server told us about the striped bass and the Northern Calfornia farm raised quail. I usually stick with pasta when I’m dining on trains, but thought I’d give Chef Kelly a chance to impress. And impress, he did. The farm raised bass arrived piping hot on an herbed potato pancake. My husband’s grilled quail was topped with fried plantains, saffron onions and rosemary grapes. The suggested wine was an Artesa 2004 Merlot from the Carneros district at $8.50 per glass.
I couldn’t help myself, skipping ahead to see what was on tap for dessert. My inner chocoholic was in distress; should I have chocolate mousse or the chocolate pot pie in puff pastry? If I wasn’t a chocolate lover, I’d opt for the cabernet pear tart with housemade vanilla gelato, but I am a slave to chocolate and I pass on the tart.
While the Vista Dome lunch is $124. per person, there are less expensive dining options offered.
1275 McKinstry Street, Napa, CA 94559
Reservations: 1 (800) 427-4124
Photos by Nancy D. Brown