It is scarce when a chef is both an established player and a increasing star. And it is even rarer when a top rated-notch resort pushes the boundaries of culinary conference and offers company a deep expertise of area that defies compartmentalization. In this situation, Gustavo Rios is the chef, and Picobar, opening nowadays at Solage, Auberge Resorts Selection, is the property.
Calistoga has been coming on sturdy in new many years, the pandemic notwithstanding, and Solage’s Solbar has very long been a dining mainstay in the Napa Valley. The resort is further more elevating its match with Picobar, a relaxed, unassuming poolside eatery that just happens to provide world-class Mexican meals. And the mastermind guiding these recipes, equally traditional and surprising, is Ensenada native Gustavo Rios, whose vocation took off at Solbar in 2007 and who, just after a time at close by Evangeline, returned to Solbar as government chef.
And now, in what would seem like the best intersection of talent and timing, Rios is combining his long abilities in northern California cooking with the coastal Mexican recipes and tactics he grew up with. The final result is Picobar, whose persuasive menu will get the notice of even the the most jaded lover of Mexican food traditions who finds him or herself in northern California — as we all know, there’s a whole lot of bastardization of this noble delicacies in our attractive state.
Rios is both an artist and an pro: He invents where there is room to roam, and he sticks closer to the culinary rulebook when that is what will work ideal. His foodstuff is in technicolor, the place so quite a few makes an attempt at Mexican cooking, primarily in hotel options, are in pastels. Rios’ cooking is lively, remarkable, and alive.
In an considerable preview of the menu in May, I believe I tasted all the things that was staying considered for the start, and I can truthfully say there was not just one dish that was not a obvious-cut “yes” in my guide. I’ll spotlight my complete favorites and allow you choose it from there.
The whipped avocado is the two homage to guacamole and reinvention of that wheel (and as very simple as it is enjoyable): Brokaw avocados whipped up with a wide variety of seeds and nuts with a very little creamy, young goat cheese and some micro-greens and edible flowers.
The aguachile is a glistening raw sea scallop in its shell dressed with cucumber, mint, and chile — like ceviche in a bash dress. And the Cowgirl Creamery queso, pictured over, is a coastal NorCal twist on a Mexican classic.
The salsas, of study course, anchor everything. An arbol, a tomatillo, and the most stunning coarsely chopped tomato salsa sit at the middle of the table in the course of the food, prepared for experimentation and participate in.
The Cooke Farms organic and natural strawberry salad is a examine in contrasts: Crisp, sweetly dry jicama is juxtaposed in opposition to the juicy, dazzling berries, each of which are undercut by sweet watermelon and cucumber, all held collectively by lime, mint and chile, sort of like a fancy foods-truck pico de gallo.
Tostadas and tacos are a centerpiece of the menu. The fresh new chickpea tostada with picked red onion knocked my socks off with its thoroughly clean, earthy flavors, and the calabacitas taco had me at “squash blossom,” offered with tomatillo and sunflower sprouts.
You could take an solely unique route by the menu and not go improper.
Cocktails are a must here. Elephant’s Memory has mezcal, turmeric, ginger, lemon and egg white, with a small charcoal decoration that reads like latte art.
I didn’t make it to dessert on this go-’round, but I attempted adequate of the menu to know that Picobar is not only a welcome addition to the Calistoga restaurant landscape, it is also a gamechanger for its ingenious embrace of the familiar and its boundary-pushing creativity.