Posts Tagged ‘Restaurants’

Whetstone Wine Cellars: Visit to Phoenix Ranch

October 23, 2009 2 comments

Throughout my experiences in enjoying wines, Sommeliers have in many instances suggested wines that I otherwise would have never tried or experienced.  Such was the case at dinner at John Ash & Company whereby the Sommelier suggested trying a wine from Whetstone Wine Cellars.  He told us of Jamey Whetstone’s beginnings in the wine industry and his development as a “Rock Star” in the wine industry and the quality wines he crafts.  Jamey began at Turley Wine Cellars in the summer of 1998 and the evolution for him continues as he is the founder of the Whetstone Wine Cellars label, is co-founder of Manifesto! Wines and is a consulting winemaker for JT Wines.  That initial taste made me a believer in Whetstone’s quality and I have enjoyed Whetstone wines ever since.  A particular favorite wine of mine is the Phoenix Ranch Syrah and Jamey and Michelle Whetstone were gracious enough to invite us to a private picnic lunch at Phoenix Ranch.  Located in the southern part of Napa Valley, Phoenix Ranch experiences the perfect climate for the quality Syrah fruit this vineyard consistently produces.

Phoenix Ranch (Napa)

Phoenix Ranch (Napa)

Michelle had set up a spread of sandwiches and Whetstone wines for us to enjoy and as we did so we enjoyed the beautiful view of the scenic Phoenix Ranch Vineyard — what a memorable experience in such a beautiful setting.  I had only tasted the Whetstone Pinot Noir and Syrah and noticed that Michelle had included the Russian River Viognier for us to try.  My wife and I had previously made the mistake of limiting ourselves to the reds and the Viognier made us aware of the quality whites Whetstone also produces.    It was a pleasure spending time with both Jamey and Michelle  — they both demonstrated their passion reflected in the wines they represent.

Michelle & Jamey Whetstone

Michelle & Jamey Whetstone

If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying Whetstone Wines I highly suggest you take an opportunity and do so — you will be impressed.

Whetstone Wine Tasting Room — follow the link for information.  It is a fun experience!


Farmhouse Restaurant and Failla Wine: Great Combo

October 14, 2009 3 comments

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant located just off of scenic River Road in Forestville, California is an exceptional restaurant.  The drive from Sonoma took about 45 minutes and was both easy and enjoyable.  The scenery in this area is just fantastic — the Russian River Valley has a special place in my heart as so many fantastic wines come from grapes grown in this area.  Upon our arrival, Christopher Fohner (the Maitre d’) welcomed us as if we were family presenting us with our menu that included a “Happy Anniversary” message.  I confessed that it really was our 25 1/2 year anniversary (people who know me know I love to extend celebrations) and he presented us with an updated menu congratulating us on such a joyous occasion.  The personal touches throughout our experience make this a restaurant that I highly recommend  — go out of your way to experience this gem of a restaurant.

Farmhouse Inn:  2008 Michelin one star recipient

Farmhouse Inn: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 Michelin one star recipient

Fohner’s wife, Jenn, did an outstanding job in answering our questions about the menu that ultimately led my wife to try the “Duo of Heritage Berkshire Pork” and I had to have the “Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit” which I had heard is a signature dish.  Geoff Kruth, the Master Sommelier, suggested the 2006 Failla Estate Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast) to pair with our meal and as it was a wine we had never had our trust in his recommendation was greatly rewarded.  You can follow Failla Wines on twitter @faillawines.

The Duo of Heritage Berkshire Pork is a combination of Pancetta wrapped tenderloin and a crispy Kurobuta belly along with a steamed corn flan and fresh shelling beans and this combination put a smile on my wife’s face that I know means she enjoyed.

Duo of Heritage Berkshire Pork

Duo of Heritage Berkshire Pork

The Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit consists of an applewood smoked bacon wrapped loin that is fantastic as the combination of flavors works perfectly and is a taste that is not only enjoyable but unique in every way.  Next, in the center of the photo below is the confit of leg that is covered with a whole grain mustard sauce and to the right you see the roasted rack.  This combination of rabbit is outstanding and, even though my expectations were very high, was even better than expected.

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

The 2006 Failla Chardonnay Estate (Sonoma Coast) wine paired very well with our dinner and is a highly rated wine crafted by Failla Wines being a winery that we had not heard of prior to this dinner.  The wine itself has hints of various tropical type fruits (I noted “hints of pineapple” especially) with a fresh crisp finish that went perfectly with our selections of food throughout all courses and for that I thank Geoff Kruth, the Master Sommelier, for his recommendation.

2006 Failla Estate Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast)

2006 Failla Estate Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast)

From my perspective, the restaurant at Farmhouse Inn is one of the best places to enjoy a nice relaxing meal as you will enjoy fantastic food, a very nice selection of wine to choose from (and expert advice if you desire) and outstanding service.  Go there!  You will enjoy it!

Farmhouse Restaurant:  7871 River Road; Forestville, CA 95436

Chez Roux: What a great dining experience

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Chez Roux

Chez Roux opened in the early part of 2009 as part of the of the LaTorretta Del Lago resort located on Lake Conroe in Montgomery, Texas.   For those who live in Houston or the surrounding areas, the drive to Chez Roux will be rewarded with a dining experience that will both surprise and amaze you.

Chez Roux is an outstanding restaurant that provides a unique setting on Lake Conroe with exceptional food making for a dining experience that you will truly enjoy.  From the outside, the stand-alone building is not impressive as it looks very stark and uninviting.  However, once you walk inside you see the floor to ceiling glass encased wine room that is both impressive and appealing to the eye.  Then as you look forward you see the view of Lake Conroe and the large outside patio that is ideal for having a casual drink while enjoying the Lake — an inviting setting that welcomes you to stay and enjoy yourself.  As you walk further into the dining room and look to the right you will see the open kitchen which may be viewed from almost anywhere in the  restaurant.  We were seated to the far left room that is a somewhat separated from the main dining area and from there we could view the happenings in the kitchen.  Overall, the entire staff works hard to ensure you have an enjoyable experience and they succeeded in doing so for us.

Our entire group decided to go with the Pre Fix menu, complete with a starter, the main course, dessert and 1/2 bottle of wine priced at a very reasonable $65. Portions were sized as you would expect and the food presentations were impressive.

For the starter, I had the “Rare Peppered Tenderloin of Venison” which was perfectly prepared. The fine bean and caper relish that accompanied it balanced out the dish. The Parmesan Wafer was an unexpected treat that just rounded out a fantastic starter. Starting out like this, I knew that this experience was going to be one I would remember for a very long time.

Starter:  Rare Peppered Tenderloin of Venison

Starter: Rare Peppered Tenderloin of Venison

My wife started off with the Globe Artichoke with hazelnut crusted goats cheese surrounded by an artichoke and olive oil dressing.  You cannot go wrong by selecting either of these starters as they both are delicious.

Starter: Globe Artichoke

Starter: Globe Artichoke

As an added note, the 1/2 bottle of wine selection was either “Murphy Goode, 2006 Fume Blanc Sonoma California or the Jean Luc Colombo, 2005 Rouge Rhone Valley (France). I selected the 2006 Fume Blanc which paired very well with my food selections as it was crisp and with a light citrus taste.  The Fume Blanc is considered to be Murphy Goode’s “Flagship wine” and is made from fruit sourced out of the Alexander Valley (located in the northern part of Sonoma County, CA) and is a combination of Sauvignon Blanc along with a small amount of Sauvignon Musque.

For the main course I selected the “Butter Poached Breast of Chicken” which was exceptional. The hints of the aged parmesan along with the shiitake mushrooms that enhanced the asparagus risotto convinced me that Chef Albert Roux’s reputation is fully represented in this new venture.

Main Course:  Butter Poached Breast of Chicken

Main Course: Butter Poached Breast of Chicken

Chef Roux has an impressive reputation as does the executive chef, Matthew Gray and the food we enjoyed reaffirmed that to us.

For dessert, I went with the homemade ice cream:  a scoop of white chocolate and a scoop of marzipan infused ice cream — I was offered more choices however I limited myself to selecting just two items.  Everyone else choose to have the selection of french and domestic cheeses that were offered. Honestly, we were surprised at the large variety of cheeses offered and I was happy to have been able to choose from 4 different ice cream flavors and 4 different flavors of sorbet.  Be it the cheese or the ice cream, we all enjoyed the dessert which topped off an exceptional meal making it an memorable dining experience.


Marzipan infused ice cream / White chocolate ice cream


Selected cheeses

Overall, a fantastic experience and a place I highly recommend!

Chez Roux Restaurant:  La Torretta Del Lago Resort & Spa; 600 La Torretta Blvd; Montgomery, Texas 77356