New RH Yountville offers one-stop shopping for fine dining and furniture

Then, there’s the stunning indoor/outdoor restaurant, a stand-alone building planted inside with 100-year-old heritage olive trees that soar toward the glass roof, flanked by 18 chandeliers and 7-foot fountains. Glass walls are glamorous, and at night, the space seems to float, dramatic with glowing chandeliers and the up-lit trees that have me seeing abstract faces in their gnarled trunks.

So it’s no wonder that on my visits, I was entertained by the throngs of tourists capturing Instagram moments (interesting, because this newspaper was advised that RH “doesn’t allow outside photography in its spaces” when we tried to set up our own photo shoot).

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To be clear, the RH kitchen sends out good food. And service is good, in that careful balance of friendly and relaxed but professional. I especially appreciate how the team works together; another server picked up my credit card after noticing my main server was fetching plates for another table.

Except we’re so spoiled in Wine Country that farm-fresh, boutique ingredients alone don’t cut it. I want more creativity, and just can’t excited about brunch of scrambled eggs laced with crème fraîche, avocado and chives ($18, add shaved white truffle for $30). Avocado toast is fine but not exciting, decorated in roasted tomatoes and greens with an egg alongside ($16). The ubiquitous smoked salmon, meanwhile, comes on a board with sourdough toast and the usual cucumber and pickled onions ($25).

Some starters are noteworthy, like the perfect raw vegetable crudité that looks like a portrait of radishes, fennel and other seasonal brilliance for dipping in buttermilk herb dressing ($21). I also like the shaved vegetable salad that is like the crudité tumbled with baby greens, pecans and cider vinaigrette ($18). Italian burrata is appropriately creamy, drizzled in olive oil and partnered with whole cherry tomatoes roasted to release their juices into a splash of aged sherry and two wands of toasted garlic butter bread ($22). Still, we jaded Californians enjoy this type of goodness every day, and often at lower prices.

For the mains, a half, roasted chicken is succulent, served in a copper roaster with caramelized onions, olive oil potato puree and jus ($32). The bone-in, skin-on bird is golden and juicy atop a pond of olive oil potato puree; I flood the plate with chicken jus from the accompanying silver gravy boat, and it’s one of the best items here. In fact, I’d like to publicly credit the Yountville chef on this dish, but in another curious RH policy, the corporate team won’t tell me who that talent is.

It’s true I enjoy the ribeye sandwich, the meat shaved thin and piled generously on Bouchon Bakery rustic baguette ($26). The tender meat and a thick slab of melted Swiss cuddles into the thick, crunchy-crust bread, all for dunking in salty jus so rich it’s nearly gelatinous. Yet I’d sure love much more punch than the touch of garlic, like fresh horseradish. The accompanying fries are OK, thickish but mostly flabby; when I find the few crisp fries in the mix, they’re well worth the calories.

And so it goes. Salmon is nicely cooked, as is a slab of Dover sole glistening in brown butter with a parsley and lemon garnish ($58, wow). Note, though, that the sides are extra – sumptuous wild mushrooms kissed with garlic, thyme and a lovely jolt of sherry vinegar ($12), for example, or heirloom broccoli given a restrained char then dressed in lemon, garlic confit and chiles ($11). If only the rest of the menu had as much spirit as these sides.

To finish, the team keeps things basic, as well, offering a banana split, or a trio of soft but crispy-edged warm chocolate chip cookies, sprinkled with sea salt flakes.

RH is “a curator of design, taste and style in the luxury lifestyle market,” its marketing materials remind me. And certainly the dining public seems to enjoy what’s happening in the drop-dead gorgeous restaurant, as reservations are strongly recommended, particularly on weekends.

Yet, for my spoiled palate, I’d like to see as much excitement in the dining as in the décor.

Carey Sweet is a Sebastopol-based food and restaurant writer. Read her restaurant reviews every other week in Sonoma Life. Contact her at [email protected].


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