A Polished Gem in the Heart of the Napa Valley
With all of the amazing restaurants scattered throughout the Napa Valley plus new ones popping up everyday, it can be daunting selecting a dining spot for a special lunch or dinner. Take note. Opened in February 2016, Brasswood Bar +Kitchen has already proven to be a refreshing renaissance and a deserving spot to put on your culinary radar. At this Napa Valley dining establishment, a bevy of loyal patrons frequent the tables and have followed the culinary entourage since their days at Tra Vigne. In fact, 85% of the current Brasswood team migrated from Bill Harlan’s iconic St. Helena dining landmark after its closing at the historic old stone edifice in St. Helena.
During dining hours at Brasswood Bar + Kitchen, it is not uncommon at any time to see renown Napa Valley winemakers and winery owners at their favorite table breaking bread and sipping their favorite varietals while savoring the distinct and familiar flavors of Chef David’s diverse menu. It is truly a “Vintners Village” again.
To spearhead the growth and development of the Brasswood Estate, Stacia Dowdell, the proprietor and winemaker for Brasswood, approached Marcus Marquez, the Vineyard Winery Estate General Manager, and the timing could have not been synergized more perfectly. Subsequently, Marquez met with Tra Vigne’s former general manager, Jennifer Bohr, and Chef David Nuno to entice them to transition over to Brasswood’s upcoming restaurant. It proved a seamless segue by bringing along their dedicated team of restaurant professionals.
Chef Nuno, mentored as a young chef by Philippe Jeanty for 17 years, 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 using the freshest of Napa Valley ingredients. Though many of his popular dishes have transitioned to Brasswood, they have taken on a new twist with renewed presentations.
One of Nuno’s signature dishes is his notable mozzarella dish, nicknamed “Mozza”. Though not listed on the daily menu, it is always available, so be sure to ask for it. It’s perfect as a side dish or a “go-to lunch” along with a salad. Other noteworthy signature creations on the Brasswood menu include: 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 varies seasonally but his signature dishes remain constant anchor on the Brasswoood menu.
We had the delicious opportunity to taste the Roasted Beet Salad with mandarins, radish, shave ricotta salata, fennel, and pistachios with orange vinaigrette dressing. The Warm Brussel Sprout Salad, prepared with shaved Brussels, smoked bacon, caramelized onions, salt pepper, olive oil, lemon juice topped with a sunny-side up egg and sprinkled Parmesan, is a seasonal treat. The Pan Seared Halibut with homemade gnocchi, spring caponata, basil aioli and fish brodo is another brainchild of Chef Nuno and a not-to-miss dish.
Of course, be sure not to miss the desserts, prepared by their first pastry chef, Mia Nugyen, formerly of Morimoto and Bouchon, who is a new addition to their top notch culinary team. Be sure to indulge in the Spring Shortcake with organic strawberries!
If an afternoon beverage is on your agenda, Brasswood’s inviting bar offers a variety of signature house cocktails, created by Assistant General Manager and Mixologist, Luke Christian. A couple favorites include the “Herbs on Fire”, a blend of lemon vodka, fresh citrus, pomegranate, basil, rosemary, mint, and ginger beer or the “Sweet and Caliente” with 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 interior is accessorized with reclaimed wood and brass fixtures throughout. The inviting covered outdoor seating is spacious across a lovely deck overlooking the beautifully landscaped courtyard to help make this restaurant a suitable venue for special events.
Brasswood Bar + Kitchen
3111 St. Helena Hwy. N.
St. Helena, CA 94574
Article and Photos by Dynie Sanderson