Romantic Dining Experience In The Napa Valley Wine Train
There is a saying "Go at least once a year to a place you have never been before." But if ...
Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the unique restaurants which offers fine dining service, multiple course meals, ultimate relaxation aboard restored vintage rail cars along with the picturesque views of Napa for a good 3 hours. We had our booking for a Sunday night Gourmet Dinner ($124 each) during the Memorial Day long weekend. Once the online booking was done, the tickets were delivered via e-mail in no time. We were informed about our itinerary through the mail and were asked to check in at 5:30 PM. The punctual people we are, we were there 5 minutes before! There was sufficient parking at the station, in case you arrive by car. The first sight I saw at the station was the Napa Valley Wine Train board at the entrance. We then entered inside and saw a good number of people were already present. After our check-in, we were given our boarding pass and welcomed with an informal seminar giving us an idea of the train and journey ahead. The waiting room was big enough with comfortable seating arrangement, wine stall if you want to have a drink before you board, a huge poster of the train where you can click a quick selfie, and restrooms as well.
The boarding started right on time at 5:50 PM and that was when we had the first look of the train. We all were called in groups and asked to queue up. There was a photographer who took a picture for us to keep as a memory of the Wine Train journey and the picture costs $35. But it was worth it! We were then guided to our respective cars.
The 36 miles train journey starts from Napa through Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and makes a stop at St. Helena. Then the train heads back to Napa from St.Helena on the return journey. The train itself has two engines, three kitchens on board in addition to the lounge cars and dining cars. There were restrooms in each car for the convenience of the guests. The train started exactly at 6:30 PM. Since we opted for late seating arrangement, we started our journey in one of the lounge cars. The car had good lighting, big windows to view the scenery and a small bar if you wish to purchase wine. There was an observation deck attached to our car and we appreciated an unobstructed view of the valley from there.
We were then given the drinks menu, in case we wanted to sip few drinks of our choice and all of them were reasonably priced. We started our meal with wine and appetizer. The appetizer included three different types of cheese, bread, grapes, seaweed salad, shrimp and calamari. Everything tasted excellent, especially the cheese and sweet grapes were rare. Since it is summer time, the first part of the journey had warm sunlight, the scenery of vineyards, roads, land, houses etc. followed by the spectacular sunset. Time went by quickly and half of the journey was over when the train stopped at St.Helena.
We were then requested to vacate the lounge chair and head to the dining car on the return trip. We went through 3-4 dining cars on the way which included Silverado and Vista Dome cars too. Then came our dining car which was truly classic and of museum-quality. The tables were well-arranged and all the groups were given private tables to maintain the romance and privacy. It was an extravagant setup and is ideal to celebrate special days like birthdays or anniversary. The ambience was stunning for a sunset dinner. Once we were all set, the train started its return journey. Since we were eager to explore the other part of the train, we took a stroll and encountered the kitchen car which was adjacent to each dining area. I was amazed to see that the meals were being prepared freshly on the train and the hand behind these specialty dishes was Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald.
Back at the table, our server served us some bread & butter and gave us a card with the dinner choices. For the first course, I opted Soup Du Jour (Potato & Spinach soup) while hubby had Baby Lettuce Salad. Both were equally impressive. The soup was exceptional as it was creamy, rich and delicious.
Before we were served entree, we had palate cleanser to clear the palate from our first-course flavor to the second course. It looked colorful and neutral flavored. The best thing about the journey was, we had enough time to explore the train, have conversations and were even served full course meal. It was all timed perfectly!
The entree options left us in a dilemma as they were all outstanding. We finally made up our mind and ordered Vegetable Gratin & Almond Encrusted Salma Piccata. Needless to say, the meals were all well-crafted by the chef. The waning sunlight, the cover of darkness, our reflection in the window and the dimly lit car made me feel ecstatic on the return journey of the train.
They had two different dessert options for the day. I preferred the chocolate variety of dessert and hubby went for Creme Brulee. By the time we finished our desserts, it felt like a good heavy meal which made our tastebuds happy. Tea and coffee were included in the meal for those who wish to have these beverages post meal. It was 9:30 PM and the train came to a halt at the station from where we began our journey. I just couldn't believe that the journey came to an end along with our beautiful dining experience.
We chatted, had fun, shared laughs, felt romantic, viewed mesmerizing scenery and ate quality food. It's like we underwent all the best feelings in the world in one incredible train journey. No matter what happens, some memories can never be replaced. This romantic dining experience in Napa Valley Wine Train is going to stay in our hearts forever and we are surely going to come back to this amazing place again!
If you wish to go through the wonderful feelings we went through on this journey, visit Wine Train website here and make your reservations. This is definitely one of the best ways to explore the beauty of Napa Valley!