As 2016 comes roaring in (where the heck did the year go?) it’s a great time to salute the ever-developing personality of Wine Country. From belly dancers to ultra-fancy cuisine to ocean front dining, your're bound to have a memorable New Year’s Eve here.
Two-Michelin-star chef Matthew Lightner continues to impress with his creative cooking, this time with a seven-course New Year's Eve menu ($135, Champagne pairings $65). Who else would dream up recipes such as carrot pimento toast, sourdough rice with grilled market fish, or manila clam tortellini pasta with black truffle? Sign us up for the chicken and shrimp dumplings, please, plus golden Ossetra caviar with roasted root vegetables, and we’re certainly saving room for the Japanese cheesecake with seasonal fruit and cream cheese ice cream. The Champagne is fancy stuff, by the way, including Francois Lecompte 1er cru Brut, Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Brut Rosé, Henri Goutorbe Brut Rosé, and Bernard Rémy Carte Blanche. // 813 Main Street, Napa; 707-226-7821, ninebark-napa.com.
Bring on the belly dancers! Head to Tarla for a party that rocks until 1:30am with DJ music, spiced Champagne cocktails and a $75 multi-choice three-course supper. The lengthy list beckons with bites such as white wine steamed mussels decorated in fresh herbs and lemon butter, smoked whisky brown sugar rubbed ribeye with bleu cheese potato croquettes and broccoli rabe, or Surf ‘n’ Turf of lobster Thermidor and petit filet mignon gussied in grilled lemon and Béarnaise sauce. There’s a full vegetarian menu, too – the white truffle wild mushroom risotto looks particularly delicious, tossed with peas, mascarpone and crisp Brussels sprout leaves. And did we mention belly dancers? // 1480 1st Street, Napa; 707-255-5599, tarlagrill.com
It’s a festive New Year’s indeed at Valette, with multi-course menus boasting signatures such as caviar tart; foie gras with buttermilk brioche and pickled cherries; day boat scallops en croute with shaved fennel, and yuzu roasted Maine lobster draped in applewood smoked bacon. Select a 5:30pm seating for your choice of an a la carte menu or the chef’s six course tasting menu ($125 + $75 for wines); or reserve the 7:30pm seating for the six course tasting only. If you opt for a la carte, here’s a must-order: cacao nib crusted Liberty Duck breast dressed in Strong Arm Farms hibiscus alongside a decadent little duck confit chewy granola bar, goji berry salad and blistered cashews. // 344 Center St, Healdsburg; 707-473-0946, valettehealdsburg.com
Fig Cafe's three-course menu alone is pretty magical, offering multiple choices ranging from starters such as saffron-parsnip bisque with candied bacon, or poached prawn salad, to entrees such as pan-seared halibut with lobster risotto and black pepper crema, or chicken roulade with spinach, coppa, herb spaetzle, crispy sprouts and jus. Vegetarians will be happy, too, with plates such as butternut agnolotti atop squash puree, truffle ricotta and cress. It’s quite the bargain, too, at $45 per person with seatings running from 5:30 to 9:30pm. // 13690 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen; 707-933-3000, thefigcafe.com
You had us at “Degustation of Masami Ranch Wagyu beef ribeye with Bordelaise poached eye, roasted calotte, Yukon Gold potato ‘bone’ with marrow enriched pommes puree, sweet carrots, creamed Bloomsdale spinach and artisanal foie gras Bordelaise sauce.” Indeed, this over-the-top menu spans eight courses ($299 + $135 wines), with chef de cuisine Andrew Cain, executive chef Bruno Tison and pastry chef Dave Blom going all out for a ravishing line-up romping through caviar, black truffle soup, Hawaiian peach palm salad, ricotta gnudi with shaved truffles, butter poached Maine lobster, wild John Dory with black trumpet mushrooms, and chocolate hazelnut cremeux. Sparkling wine all around – including the complimentary midnight bubbly toast. // 100 Boyes Boulevard, Sonoma; 707-939-2407, fairmont.com.
A five-course dinner for $75 is reason to celebrate, but then add in the Cal-Italian menu and stunning ocean views, and it’s even more special. The multi-choice line-up tempts with plates such as risotto croquettes, baked brie in puff pastry, fish of the day in lobster brandy sauce, New York steak with prawns, and a sweet finish of chocolate mousse cake. Tucked in The Links at Bodega Harbour golf course club, the setting is serene, perfect if you prefer a quieter entry to the New Year. // 21301 Heron Drive, Dr. Bodega Bay; 707-875-3538, bodegaharbourgolf.com