La Toque, Napa Valley, California

For any foodie, there is no trip to the Napa Valley that is complete without a trip to the French Laundry. Unfortunately, the French Laundry (awarded 3 Michelin stars) also comes with an extremely high price tag of $350 per person not including tax, supplements, wine, or tip. It is also extremely difficult to get a reservation. Your next best option is dining at La Toque, coming in at $175 (before wine, tax, tip, or supplements), having been awarded 1 Michelin star.

La Toque only offers one menu, either a chef’s tasting or a vegetarian variation, with exceptions for special menus on holidays and for the annual black truffle menu. I have eaten both the chef’s tasting menu (pescatarian), as well as the annual black truffle menu. Both were incredible.

Playing on traditional French culinary tactics, you will notice classic dishes, with a modern spin. With both an outdoor space (that feels oddly indoor), there is a full dining room and a fire pit in both locations. The service is impeccable and every dish is brought out in a specific sequence. In some cases you can choose to pay for a supplementary dish, otherwise, you will receive the same six small courses.

Although the menu changes all the time, here are a few incredible dishes to look out for

  • Agnolotti with Ricotta and Truffled Egg Yolk with Chanterelles and Australian Black Winter Truffle Butter: Basically an explosion of every flavour you ever wanted, at the same time.
  • Peanut Butter Filled Cinnamon Churro Spiced Caramelized Apple, Dulce de Leche Ice Cream: Deserts are usually very subjective, but who doesn’t love peanut butter? I’m also pretty sure that churros are high on everyone’s list. La Toque does ice cream really well, and the dulce de leche does not disappoint.
  • Crispy Roti Potato with Ostrea Caviar, Whipped Creme Fresh, and Chives: This was a $25 supplement to the menu, but it had all of my favourite things. The potato was made with thin strips lightly fried, topped with perfect creme fresh and caviar. Truly delightful.
  • Annual Truffle Menu: If you love black truffles then the annual truffle menu is always a treat. Be careful though, it does run a bit more expensive than the classic menu and they do not offer both menus at the same time.

When it comes to wine you have a few options. If you want to bring a bottle of your own, you can do so and pay a $50 corkage fee. This is a great option because the wine list is always a bit more expensive than the bottle you can find in a store. The wine pairings are also great if you want to try a few different options. It includes local Napa Valley wines, as well as French grand crus, and champagne.

Overall La Toque is a true experience. It is fine dining in its true form. Get ready for the best part of the night is when you walk out the door with a little box of treats to eat at home. Although it can definitely be an expensive night, it is a good replacement if you aren’t wanting to spend $350 per person on the French Laundry. Plus it is an experience all on its own. Explore La Toque’s restaurant menu in Napa Valley, California here.