On Sunday, Oct. 8, I brought my husband to dinner at 1313 Main to enjoy Adam Ross’ unique seven-course chef’s tasting menu for a potential story. As it turns out, had I made the reservation even just one day later, we never would have had the pleasure of experiencing what my husband later called “the best meal ever.”
During the drive home, whilst complaining about how full my belly was, I remember noting how crazy strong the winds were that night. Then not five minutes after our heads hit the pillow, we got a call from a friend that there was a fire at Atlas Peak. Soon after that, we received another about a fire near Calistoga. The following few days were one big, smoky blur; our phenomenal dinner far, far away in the rearview mirror.
Then on Saturday the 14th, just as some Napa Valley restaurants were beginning to reopen, 1313 Main announced on their Facebook page that theirs would remain closed, at least until 2018.
“It was shocking,” said Ross. “There was a lot going through our minds at that time, but this was definitely not something we wanted to be thinking about. I knew from the status of our reservation book, being in the peak of the season, that this was going to hurt. It was at the back of everyone’s mind, wondering what kind of effect [the fires] were going to have.”
But they didn’t expect this, especially not so soon.
My first thought when I heard the news? Bummer. I guess I won’t be writing that story after all.
Then it occurred to me that I had dined at 1313 Main on the very last night it was open and that we were some of their very last customers ever. Unknowingly, we were present for a “Last Supper” of sorts.
And while Ross and his team were now all unfortunately out of a job, I felt they at the very least deserved an encore—one worthy of our meal’s encore that night, which was a delightful and surprising combo: foie gras stuffed candy apples.
Named one of Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in 2015 and still only 28, Ross joined 1313 in 2014 from The Restaurant at Meadowood, and developed the chef’s tasting menu featuring seven seasonally-driven and inventive courses, plus “snacks.” For an extra cost, there was the option of adding on wine pairings with each dish, which we did.
Currently, there’s really no other fine dining experience like it in Napa.
“I was brought on with the intention of refining the experience to really match the depth and refinement of the cellar there,” said Ross. “It started as a four-course menu, went up to eight, and then back down to seven with a large snack section in the beginning.”
Ross’ creativity shone from the plating to the palate. Starting with an amuse bouche trio, the centerpiece, a fun twist on Sunflower Toast, was plated literally on a large, beautiful sunflower.
Then the first course, refreshingly bright hamachi with caviar, lay across perfectly-marbled pools of a shio koji and lime vinaigrette. Later, another trio, this time featuring choice dry aged meats—21-day duck, 30-day A5 Wagyu and 21-day Bavette—awaited their fate atop an artful, Jackson Pollock-like splattering of bright red beetroot sauce.
But the real treat for me, was Ross’ dedication to serving delicacies that don’t make the traditional menu, like Monterey abalone, served with abalone liver sauce. He said it’s his favorite part of the mollusk that most people seem to forget about.
Another course checked three glorious boxes at once, when we were presented with a single, jumbo-sized ravioli stuffed with sweetbreads, topped with shaved black truffle and served in foie gras sauce.
“We’ve got to get the foie gras in while we still can,” Ross joked, referring to the recent news that the California foie gras ban is back on the table.
That’s why he figured he’d also stuff it into those tiny candy apples, a sweet and final, fortune cookie-esque touch to the meal.
So, what’s next for Ross in his very young career?
“I’m still kind of figuring that out, taking a look at where I could go,” he said. “I would love to stay in Napa, as it’s been so good to me over the years, but I’m going to wait to find the right project for me, one that can continue the creativity and steps we really forged along the way at 1313.”
In a time of uncertainty, one thing’s for sure. Wherever he goes, I’ll be dining there.