Can a perfectly seared day boat scallop capped with gently melting Iberico lardo make you weep? Would a gently poached 63-degree quail egg make you swoon with that closed-eye, relaxed shoulder, slack-jawed, flushed cheek feeling that’s, well, usually done behind closed doors?
We’re a strange breed, we gastronomes, seeking out that one perfect meal, that one perfect ingredient that alights every sense simultaneously. Ephemerally. Seductively. Suffice to say, you’ve either been bitten…or you’re just as happy scarfing down a PB&J as a plate of baby favas still warm from the summer sun.
Though not for every eater, Chef Shane McAnelly’s Library at Chalkboard menu at the Les Mars Hotel ($95) is most definitely for the “I-post-every-meal-I-eat-on-Instagram #noms” crowd.
Six painstakingly curated prix fixe courses spanning several hours are now being served each weekend in the cozy library room, seating just 16. For each course, there are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian selections, equally intriguing in every way.
Beet “bubbles” smother paper-thin slices of Kampachi with a surf-meets-earth quality; bacon consomme is drizzled over a tiny stack of pork belly, quail egg and nasturtium, each flavor parading over the palate. Smoked maitake mushroom shaped into a faux bone marrow; a puffed souffle of spring strawberries gently deflated with a quenelle of mascarpone ice cream (by pastry chef Bill Woodward) or a ribbon of dark chocolate ganache punctuated by banana ice cream, bacon crumbles and peanut butter dust. Beverage pairings (and additional $70) from wine director Vito Carano are curious and clever, with sake and sour beer pairings as carefully chosen as the wines.
Luxury dining isn’t always worth the hefty pricetag, but with Michelin-worthy courses and exacting service, it isn’t just the recycled dishware (yes, we remembered those signature bowls) that harken back to the hotel’s earlier multi-course, multi-starred dining destinations, Cyrus.
It’s the wink and nod to the gastronome, ever pursuing that perfect meal, that makes the Library at Chalkboard one of our favorite new Wine Country dining experiences.
Open Friday through Sunday from 5:30 to 9:30, 29 North St., Healdsburg. Reservations required, (707) 473-8030.