If you haven’t been to TORC in downtown Napa yet for dinner you really need to on your next Napa visit.
TORC is one of the newest and hottest restaurants in the Valley. Be sure to get reservations well in advance as the place is usually packed.
I had the good fortune of dining at TORC on my last Napa trip with my friends Didier Loustau and Susan Quinn. We were lucky to have one of the best tables in the place (well, Didier’s influence might have had something to do with it). Seated next to the entry and in the window, we had a full view of the dining room and the open kitchen. We could easily see Chef O’Toole at work throughout the evening. Our server Kristen was a delight and took great care of us.
TORC opened in late October 2013 by chef/proprietor Sean O’Toole, his first venture as proprietor. O’Toole comes to TORC from such kitchens as Quince, the Michelin 2-starred San Francisco restaurant and its sister operation Cotogna which opened in 2010 serving Italian fare. O’Toole also spent time at Bardessono in Yountville and in the Mina Group restaurants. All of these positions sharpened his skills and prepared him to open TORC, his own establishment. O’Toole says the restaurant is named after the Gaelic work for “boar” which appears on the O’Toole’s family coat of arms.
TORC’s menu offers farm-to-table new American fare with a host of international flavors mixed in. Relying heavily on locally-sourced ingredients for his farm-to-table contemporary menu.
O’Toole has reached out to such local individuals as forager, Connie Green of Wineforest Wild Foods and farmer/grape grower Lee Hudson of Hudson Ranch. Also included in the mix of local purveyors is Phillip Paine owner of Paine Farms supplier of squab and lamb for TORC.
Michigan native Elizabeth Gentry has joined O’Toole as Pastry Chef. Gentry, a graduate of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education in Grand Rapids and came to TORC after stints in two prestigious New York restaurants, Daniel and NoMad. I speak from firsthand experience when I tell you her desserts are simply wonderful.
After a quick glance at the menu, it was easy to see that I wouldn’t be able to worry about my diet with this dinner.
Didier, Susan and I decided we would enjoy some starters and worry about entrées later. My first selection was a small plate of farm fresh deviled eggs with a sprinkle of pickled onion and bacon. The eggs were followed by a plate of red curry pork ribs with peanut sauce and chilies.
Our first wine of the evening was a bottle of 2005 Karl Lawrence Cellars, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Morisoli Vineyard. This wine was from Didier’s wine cellar and a real gem.
I have posted before that Karl Lawrence Cellars wines are quite good. But, unfortunately, the operation has gone out of business and the wines are no longer produced. What a shame.
The 2005 Reserve was deep purple in color with good clarity. The nose was full of dark fruit. On the palate, the wine was well structured with lots of fruit with hints of vanilla and oak. The finish was dry and lingering with good tannin and a bit of pepper. My thanks to Didier for sharing this bottle.
Next came a complimentary dish from Chef O’Toole, bucatini pasta with a lamb Bolognese. It was amazing.
Next came another bottle of wine selected from TORC’s wine list which was put together by Cynthia O’Toole, the chef’s wife. The list features more than a 100 California and French wines. It is a well-rounded list that certainly compliments the food menu.
Our selection was a lovely 2011, Francois Carillion Bourgogne Chardonnay from Burgundy, France. The wine’s nose presented aromas of white flowers and minerals. On the palate there was a balance of tender ripe fruit with hints of vanilla. The finish was ample, delightful and of good length. The wine had good mouth feel and was a good medium bodied, dry Chardonnay. I would recommend this wine if you get the chance to try it. The wine sold for $35.00 per bottle on TORC’s wine list.
We decided to make yet another wine selection which was the Napa Valley 2009 Cimarossa Vineyard “Rive de Cimarossa” Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain. This was a young wine with a color of deep purple. Although we drank the wine without decanting it, which was a shame, as we should have. This wine would have benefited from several hours of decanting. The nose was full of aromas of vanilla and spices. The mouth feel was dry and the tannins were well balanced and you could feel the wine coating the inside of your mouth. The wine displayed lots of fruit and hints of vanilla continued on the palate. The finish was nice and long and this wine clearly has some growing up to do and will only get better with age. The wine sold for $95.00 on TORC’s wine list. A little pricey, I thought.
The cabernet complimented my entrée of Berkshire Heritage Pork, featuring cheddar grits, collard greens and mustard sauce. The pork and cheddar grits were excellent, but I wasn’t a fan of the collard greens, although good, they are something I don’t enjoy. Overall, the meal was wonderful from start to finish. Chef O’Toole is certainly displaying his talents through the food he is preparing at TORC.
This was a wonderful evening of good wine and food spent in an outstanding restaurant with two really good friends. I highly recommend that you dine at TORC on your next trip to Napa. TORC is located at 1140 Main Street in downtown Napa. They are open for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Sunday and serve brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. You can call for information or reservations at 707-252-3292.
As always, I appreciate your continued support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with friends and family. Your comments on this blog post or any other topic are welcome below.
Until next Thursday,