A Polished Gem in the Heart of the Napa Valley
Brasswood Bar + Kitchen – Amazing dining in the Napa Valley. With all of the amazing restaurants that are scattered throughout the Napa Valley and new ones popping up every day, it can sometimes be compelling selecting a dining spot for a special lunch or dinner out. This one is a spot to definitely put on your culinary radar. Brasswood Bar + Kitchen, though only opened two years ago in 2016, has already proven to be a refreshing renaissance serving many familiar flavors at this Napa Valley dining establishment. A bevy of loyal patrons frequent the tables and have followed this loyal culinary entourage since their days at Tra Vigne. In fact, 85% of the current Brasswood team migrated over after the closing of Bill Harlan’s iconic St. Helena dining landmark Tra Vigne which served their well-known Italian dishes to dedicated valley patrons and visitors for many years in the historic Saint Helena old stone edifice.
At Brasswood, it is not uncommon at any time during the day to see signature Napa Valley winemakers and winery owners sitting at their favorite table breaking bread and sipping their favorite varietals over casual conversation. On the table to the right you may see KR of Rombauer, or over to the left Chuck Wagner of Caymus enjoying their favorite dishes, or Elias from Shafter and many more. They love to frequent Brasswood Bar + Kitchen for the distinct and familiar flavors of Chef David’s diverse menu in this relaxing, casual setting where they will always find a friendly face visiting their table. It is truly a “Vintners Village” again.
It was Stacia Dowdell, the proprietor and winemaker for Brasswood who approached Marcus Marquez, who is now the Vineyard Winery Estate General Manager, to spearhead the growth and development of the Brasswood Estate and is co-creator along with Stacia on it’s growing success and popular following. The timing for the creation of Brasswood Bar + Kitchen could not have been synergized more perfectly. Marcus met with the former Tra Vigne general manager Jennifer Bohr and Chef David Nuno to entice them to transition over to Brasswood’s upcoming restaurant. The segue was seamless, and they did not miss a beat, bringing along their dedicated team of restaurant professionals to complete the initial foundation of the troupe who have not only have they worked in tandem for many years, they are some of the very best in the industry.
Chef David Nuno has been creating and preparing his signature dishes in the Napa Valley for over 30 years and is known to many for his inspired cuisine. Though many of his popular dishes have transitioned over to Brasswood, they have taken on a new twist giving them their own new presence with a slightly different and renewed presentation. Chef David professes to only use the best and the freshest of Napa Valley ingredients.
Included in the extensive resume of Chef David’s epicurean experience in the Napa Valley are his many years at the helm at Tra Vigne as well as being mentored as a young chef by Philippe Jeanty for 17 years. However, his inspiration on his quest to create was instilled and inspired by the aromas and flavors of his mother’s food and ultimately led him to his path with cooking.
One of the signature dishes which David Nuno brought along with him to the Brasswood tables is his notable mozzarella dish, nicknamed “Mozza.” Though you won’t see it in print on the daily menu, it is always available. Be sure to ask for it. Many have it has a side dish and or see it as their “go-to lunch” along with a simple salad at the bar, and it is definitely a local’s favorite. A few of the other dishes that are signature to David’s creations that are found on the Brasswood menu are Kale Salad; Sweet White Corn Soup; Crispy Arancini; Four Cheese Risotto and Confit of Sonoma Duck Leg; and the Dry Aged Porter House (for two). The menu does vary seasonally to coincide with the freshest of ingredients available, though his signature creations are a constant anchor on the Brasswood menu.
A few of the notable dishes that we had the delicious opportunity to taste are the Roasted Beet Salad with roasted beets, mandarins, radish, shaved ricotta salata, fennel, pistachios with orange vinaigrette dressing. (See recipe attached)
The Warm Brussel Sprout Salad proved a seasonal treat and is like breakfast for dinner. Prepared with shaved Brussels, smoked bacon, caramelized onion, salt pepper, olive oil, lemon juice topped with a sunny-side up egg and sprinkled Parmesan. The Herb Infused Pappardelle & Short Rib Sugo along with braised radicchio, aged balsamic, thyme and arugula paired with the Brasswood “Top Brass” Cab 2012 made it a memorable winner. Another brainchild of Chef David is the Pan Seared Halibut with homemade gnocchi, spring caponata, basil aioli, and fish brodo and is a not to miss dish.
When in season, be sure to ask for the Padron Peppers which he is well known for.
And the topper, of course, is their desserts, a perfect way to finish a perfect meal. They have just added to their top-notch team their first pastry chef, Mia Nguyen, formerly of Morimoto and Bouchon.
If a quick stop for an afternoon beverage is on your agenda, their inviting bar offers up an opportunity to catch up with friends over one of their signature House Cocktails, created by Assistant General Manager and Innovative Mixologist, Luke Christian. He creates all of the delightful concoctions offered at the Brasswood Bar. Several of these infused libations poured for your enjoyment is the “Herbs on Fire” – a blend of tru lemon vodka, fresh citrus, pomegranate, basil, rosemary, mint, llanllyr source fiery ginger beer or the “Sweet and Caliente” – Cimarron tequila, giffard cassis, lime, grapefruit, cilantro and jalapeno.
The Brasswood Bar + Kitchen’s atmosphere is warm and inviting in a barn-like intimate setting with big cozy booths and long tables under gleaming brass light fixtures for larger parties. The restaurants interior is accessorized with reclaimed wood and brass fixtures throughout, thus the inspiration for the name. Marcus wanted a name that brought you to a place that was a fantasy of food, wine, and relaxation. Their inviting covered outdoor seating is spread across a lovely deck overlooking the wineries beautifully landscaped courtyard. Many special events are hosted at the Brasswood Estate.
The common thread with the energy and philosophy of the Brasswood team is they always pride themselves on making it a personal experience. It is a dining and congregating experience not to be missed!
Brasswood Bar + Kitchen: 3111 St. Helena Hwy. N., St. Helena, CA 94574