The Charter Oak Restaurant
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In the past, we have thoroughly enjoyed Charter Oak, but this time, we found the food to be too oily and just not up to the level it has been before. Granted, the place was packed with patrons and the kitchen was likely slammed, but this is Napa Valley, and these sorts of things can't affect restaurant's product. We will return … hopefully, this was an isolated incident.
Fantastic atmosphere that manages to be both kid-friendly and great for adults night out. Drinks were interesting and well balanced, but the food is the star of the show. Delicious local ingredients with excellent execution. Still dreaming about the roasted broccoli salad.
"...our idea is to treat food as simply as possible," was the waiter's spiel. Yes, the food is fairly simple. It's also heavy-handed, stolid, overwrought, and greasy/fatty. Portions are huge and sloppy; Intagrammable but not very digestible. Dessert service is a pretentious time-wasting cart: the poor guy was working hard but it's not an efficient system. The malted chocolate pudding was tooth-achingly sweet yet also loaded with salt; it needed crushed brittle like Newcastle needs more coal. Getting coffee was like pulling teeth; our waiter simply forgot all about it so the cart guy was kind enough to order it for us. When it came, we found it served in Japanese teacups, e.g.; NO HANDLES. I always love drinking super-hot liquid in cups that burn my fingers - NOT! But that's what Charter Oak is all about: superficial style but no real class.
We've had brunch at Charter Oak before (delightful!) but this time enjoyed dinner. We started off with the wings appetizer & they were very good. Then he ordered the smoked beef rib and I enjoyed the buttermilk chicken. They were delicious! The chicken was very juicy and really quite good. (I was trying to be "healthier" but I was not disappointed in any way.) We brought our own wine so didn't really peruse the wine list. We'll definitely be back.
Terrible service. Unfortunate they include the gratuity... makes it’s a harder blow.
We had a reservation told us it would be a couple minute wait was almost a 1/2 hour. Food was amazing service was ok
we were a party of 4. Everyone got something different. I got the pasta with the cheese and ground pepper. I thought it was good but on the expensive side for what it was and the portion size. I think it was around $25. My friend said that the cheese burger she had was one of the best she'd ever had. I'd go back just to try that. My husband had the chicken which was good and I forgot what the other person got. There are not many moderately priced wines by the bottle and I am not sure what their corkage fees/policy is. I am going to find out and maybe bring my own wine next time. Of course a wine that is not on their wine list.
I only would "maybe" recommend it. The service was good but the wine service only fair. We ordered a $ 150 bottle of red wine , and it came ice cold . For a restaurant in the wine country this was unacceptable.
Needless to say it took an hour to get to a better temperature even though we asked for a decanter .
The food is along the lines of a steakhouse , sides need to be ordered extra . The chicken was very good but it came by itself for $ 25.00 . The trout also was very nice but only with a decoration of small greens on top $ 32.00 . We asked for a side of small red peppers , and they would have been great if they had not been charred black on one side . Not edible and we had to scrape it off. Same with the sunchokes we ordered , only the inside was edible.
While some people might like all this charred food , we did not .
In for our honey moon. Food and environment were great, but worst service we had in the valley. They didn’t mess up an order, but felt like we had been forgotten about for the entire night.
Absolutely atrocious service with a mandatory 20% tip on the bill. Unacceptable.
I wish the server had indicated that portion sizes were so large and that a starter a main and a salad were too much for one person as the starter and salad were both sharing portions
We had 3 nights in Napa and were looking forward to dinner at Charter Oak the most. We started with the chard salad and durum wheat spaghetti. Both dishes were incredible. After that we had the cod in corn husks, although perfectly tender it was very fishy. We also had the short ribs, also cooked perfectly tender but very bland. Squash Blossoms were meh, and the mushrooms were the only descent plate for the second course. After that we skipped dessert.
We were blown away by the food, cocktails and the service.
Our group came from WI to Napa to celebrate a 40th birthday. The Charter Oak came on a recommendation from a friend. Our reso was for 4 at 8:30 but due to the way our day fell, we arrived at 7:15 and were promptly given table options. We sat in front of the main dining room hearth and our night only exceeded our expectations from there.
Our group shared the Chard Salad, Wings, Grilled Buttermilk Chicken, Roasted Ham, Cheeseburger, assorted mushrooms, Carrot Cake, Malt Pudding, loaf of bread, two red wines, & two specialty cocktails.
We COULD NOT get over the food!!!!!! Every.Single.Dish was made to perfection. Chicken better than we’d ever had in our life, ham that we will try to recreate at home for the rest of our lives, and a simple, yet wonderful salad. Typically there are one or two items to rave over, but The Charter Oak delivered on every single dish on every level.
The service was wonderful, attentive, and informative.
The atmosphere in the dining room was modern and upbeat, yet cozy and casual. The outside dining/patio area was truly magical. The twinkling lights, the outdoor gas fire pit, and comfortable seating invited us to relax after dinner.
When in St Helena/Napa/Sonoma....The Charter Oak is a MUST!!!
Incredible experience! Most dishes are smoked, but to a very favorable degree. Service was superb. Ambience was wonderful, with a very reasonable noise level. Horseradish ham had almost no horseradish, and coffee was served cool, but otherwise a delightful experience.
The service was horrible. Food was good, but not at the prices charged. I may have been there on a off night but wouldn't go back based on my experience.
I am a giant fan of Nathaniel Dorn. What he's achieved at The Restaurant at Meadowood, in terms of service and ambience, sets a new standard. I've visited Charter Oak 4 times. Three of four times the servers were appropriately knowledgeable and friendly. Last visit, the server was just friendly. Maybe she was new, but normally I'd expect everyone under Nathaniel's supervision to be at the top of the game. Not a major complaint. The food at C.O. is hit or miss. Each item is undoubtedly exactly how they intend it, but it may not be what you want. On a recent visit the waiters all raved about the smashed, fried potatoes, but neglected to mention that they were sweet. I prefer my fried potatoes salty, skip the sugar. The steamed seabass may be intentionally soft and lightly poached, near cool in the middle, so my mistake for ordering it. I prefer a sear on my fish. The chicken is usually great there. But, as you might conclude, get all the details about each dish before making a final decision. I commend C.O. for having a somm. He's got his own section on the list and it offers choices to expand your palate. In fact, if you adopt that attitude toward the dining menu, you may find something outside your normal comfort zone. That being said, I hope they add more dishes within the mainstream. Congratulations to Nathaniel and Christopher on their first Michelin star at Charter Oak. I hope there's more to come.
Visited while on vacation to Napa. Great spot and recommended but one has to be patient with service, especially from the bar to the table.
Food was well prepared, creative, but not overdone-as to allow the ingredients themselves to shine. Very open and rustic dining space with an open kitchen/hearth fire where many of the dishes were seen being prepared. You get fine Napa Valley dining quality food without the frills (including no corkage fee for your first bottle of Napa wine), however the service left something to be desired- maybe was an off night, but our waiter seemed forgetful, untimely, and scattered. Would come back again and recommend for others who are looking for an elevated meal that is still casual and approachable (like neighboring farmstead)
Beautiful setting, outstanding & unique food, and a signed copy of menu from Chef Kostow (+photo) THE best birthday present...
Thank you for special treat.
Terrific venue for tasty and well thought out food. We live the open hearth and the way in which the restaurant is able to impart the wood taste into a number of the apps and entrees. The restaurant continues to evolve into a go to place for fresh vegetables and creative proteins. Can’t recommend highly enough.
We had a wonderful Sunday lunch. I’ve always loved the homey feel of the restaurant but with very well done service. The staff were on top of everything and made sure everyone was well taken care of. Thank you for continually giving great experiences.
I absolutely love this restaurant. Food is amazing and service is spectacular
One of the best meals I’ve had. And great staff. Enough said!
Best bar west of New York. Absolutely magic. Beautiful scene with courtyard garden dining, outdoor tables, balcony dining, décor is like the French Quarter in beautiful old winery. Spectacular wine list with real value and European zing. Menu is kind of small and lacks imagination, but the items on it are prepared with the finest Michelin zeal. A lot of effort to use grown on the premises ingredients in the current fad, but don't ignore the French wine and arctic black cod. Most romantic location in St. Helena.
Great atmosphere. Staff was fantastic. Food was even more amazing.
The negative reviews about poor service is true. The food was very disappointing. Cod was flavorless amongst other foods we ordered. Plus your automatically charged 20% for the privilege. I truly don’t mind paying for good service and food but not what I got on this night.
Outstanding says it all!
We sat outside on their balcony/patio and it was pleasantly quiet. Service was perfect. Jeremy, the sommelier, knows his stuff and steered us in the right direction on both of our wine selections. Their hearth produces succulent meats. I am sorry that I cannot remember our servers name, but he was exceptional. The evening was warm it was the perfect setting.
Items from the hearth were incredible. Must return to try other menu items
If I could give it a ZERO I would. Really bad experience. Food was almost inedible. Appetizer came with absolutely tasteless bread (they should really try some olive oil and salt at the very least). Was just charred bread with some cheese. Unfortunately that was the best of my experience. We had a chicken meal that was awful and another ham speciality that seemed like it was straight out of a can. Friends recommended this restaurant as a “must” and I recommend it as a DON’T!!! There are so many other options in Napa this is one to avoid.
Quite simply, one of the best restaurant experiences of our lives. Everything was fantastic. Our server, Hannah, was delightful, friendly, and welcoming. The food was stellar:
- the crispy potato “tostones” were unique af, crunchy, buttery, with a hint of sweetness
- the hey-ha wings (licensed from a different restaurant each month, this month from Night+Market in LA) had an element of smokey naughtiness to them that I can’t quite describe in words
- the bread and butter, made from scratch by the restaurant (not to get Portlandia on y’all, but the story behind the wheat farmer and the 21 year old starter donated by Tartine really sealed the deal, but in our defense, we heard the story after we’d already tasted and fallen in love with this dish)
- the cheeseburger, mentioned in bold on the menu... when I asked Hannah why that was the case, she nonchalantly responded: because it’s the best burger in the valley. That sold me, so I ordered it, and she was not joking. It was the best burger I’ve had in the valley!
The service was impeccable. Even though we’re only in St. Helena for a few days, we will be back to try their dessert (we were so full from the amazing food, we decided to save dessert for another day, likely accompanied by wine near their sexy fireplace).
All in all, if there was one place I could wholeheartedly recommend in all of St. Helena to anyone and everyone, it would be Charter Oak. We will be back. Again and again!
Siamo stati molto bene! Il locale è bello, spazioso e originale e il personale incredibilmente gentile e disponibile. Il cibo ottimo e di stagione. Da ricordare la Pavlova!!
The former Tra Vigne space is still gorgeous, the food is, overall, excellent. The problem is pricing. How do you feel about spending $22 for a field-dressed heirloom tomato appetizer? The tomatoes came from the restaurant's own garden, the taste was terrific, and, though an appetizer, the dish served the four of us.
The special of lamb ribs was sensational. The problems (for some) come in the fine print. The menu is steak-house style, meaning that the mains are without any accompaniments. For those, it will cost you an additional $8-12. Plus, if you want bread, that will set you back either $5 or (an astounding) $10 extra. For a restaurant with sky-high prices, charging for bread is unconscionable.
Our server was like an animatronic runaway from Disneyland, but I imagine that can't be (I hope) indicative of all the servers.
For a special occasion, Charter Oak is a fine splurge. For everyday dining, not so much.
We have been there now three times and every time we had a great experience. From fresh churned butter and crusty bread, in house made sausage and fire roasted meats, everything is perfectly prepared.
Fun addition is the little drawers with your napkin and cutlery at your table corner.
Also a must do experience is the dessert cart!
A very ambitious—maybe too ambitious—menu. Not every dish needs to be smoked, steeped, brined, etc. But the servers are charming and helpful, and the courtyard is is lively at night.
We had heard about the restaurant and were eager to try it. It offers a short, ala carte menu with poor descriptions of the entrees. It’s not cheap either—not that I expected it to be. The service was the best part but since we came for the food and it was mediocre at best, we probably won’t be back. We had a tough time finding a tempting appetizer but chose the tostone potatoes. They were cooked in some kind of honey sauce and were way too sweet tasting for potatoes. The short ribs were okay but overpriced. One positive, besides the service: no corkage charge for the first bottle.
Great restaurant! Waitstaff and sommelier were very knowledgeable! They helped us make our meal both enjoyable and memorable! Highly recommend.
The food was excellent and for good value, especially for a restaurant in Napa Valley where it tends to be on the more expensive side. The ingredients were fresh and the desserts are also worth a try!
The Charter Oak Restaurant is rated 4.5 stars by 606 OpenTable diners.