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La Toque, Napa

1314 McKinstry St.
Napa , California
Tel: 707 257 5157's insider take:

If you couldn't score a reservation at the French Laundry, take heart: Chef Ken Frank's Gallic cooking at La Toque, a Michelin-star restaurant, stands toe to toe with the fare at America's top tables. Not only is Frank a master saucier, he also has a knack for eking out great depth from common foods, in part because he uses only the very best artisanal ingredients. Rooted squarely in the French culinary tradition, the chef plays off the classics but gives them a smart, fresh spin. Expect dishes like twice-cooked pork confit, and ribeye steak two ways (braised and stuffed into ravioli, and roasted and served with sautéed porcini mushrooms and Rutherford cabernet reduction). Though you can dine à la carte, savvy gourmands order the five-course prix-fixe menu. At $98 a head, it's a bargain in pricey Napa. The decor is austere and elegant, with well-spaced tables, one enormous flower arrangement, and a roaring fireplace anchoring the room. (It's tempting to request the table by the fire, but it often gets too warm.) Wine director Scott Tracy is a magician, selecting spot-on pairings from a list that pays appropriate respect to local wineries while also trotting out a huge selection of French grands crus, including no fewer than five vintages from the venerable Château Latour.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays 5:30 to 9:30 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.