Charlie Palmer Steak at Archer Napa Hits a Bullseye
Article By: Fran Miller
If you’re wondering where all the action is in downtown Napa, look no further than Archer Napa and its signature restaurant – Charlie Palmer Steak. This fifth Palmer US outpost, located on the hotel’s ground floor just off of the 1st St. lobby, flows seamlessly from its urbane dining room, to the center-stage circular bar, to lobby lounging areas. On a recent Saturday night visit, the crowds and levity led us to inquire if a party or special event was taking place. We were assured that this energy was typical of a Saturday night. Wow.
One first notices the music – a curated playlist that sets an energetic tone. If you don’t hear your favorite, be patient. Jumping from country, to rock, to jazz, to R&B, the list featured tunes for every taste. Diners and imbibers filled the dining tables, encircled the bar, and draped themselves across low-slung lobby settees. The party-like vibe was infectious, and a bit of a contrast to the more restrained wine country hospitality for which the area is known. But lest guests forget – amidst the revelry – where they are, Archer Napa’s large, custom-made topographical AVA map that lines one entire lobby wall is there to remind them – as is the Charlie Palmer Steak wine list. More than 400 labels are featured with a major presence of Cabernet, Burgundy, and Champagne. Half are from Napa Valley, and several (including a delectable Opus One Overture) are available by the glass.
But on to the food. Palmer shapes his ‘Progressive American Cuisine’ menu with bold, straight forward style inspired by Napa’s agricultural and viticultural regions. Local and premium purveyors are featured: Mary’s provides the chicken, Liberty Farms the duck, and Snake River the pork chop and strip steak. Executive Chef Jeffery Russell (a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and longtime Charlie Palmer Group chef) executes the Palmer vision where focus is on robust cuts of beef served with a choice of sauces, and regional seafood dishes. Highlights include a 4 oz. Wagyu steak imported from Japan, a bone-in Tomahawk for two, American Wagyu Beef Carpaccio served with kimchi crackers, and a delicate Hudson Valley Seared Foie Gras currently served with honey crisp apple, savory cornbread, and cocoa nib crumble. The Raw Bar menu segment features classic shrimp or crab cocktails, and oysters on the half shell. Splurge for the Prime Platter and enjoy chilled Maine lobster tail, oysters, poached prawns, king crab legs, cocktail sauce, and champagne mignonette. All presentations, from a simple Roasted Baby Beet Salad, to the spectacularly delicious Crudo of the Day, are beautifully executed.
In classic American Steak House style, extra sides include some of the usual suspects: a not-overly creamed spinach with garlic crumbs, Yukon Gold potato puree, Brussels sprouts, and charred broccolini, amongst others. And also in classic American Steak House style, prices are admittedly steep, but budget-minded diners do have options. A daily Happy hour (4-7 PM) in the bar/lounge features well-priced wine, beer, and snacks, and a bar menu features reasonably priced luxe options, proving that just like its music playlist, there is something for everyone at Charlie Palmer Steak.
P.S. – Save room for dessert, most especially for the decadent Peanut Butter Terrine with banana cremeaux and curried candy peanuts!
Charlie Palmer Steak
1260 First St., Napa,
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner: 7am – 10pm daily.