This is The Gatekeepers, in which Eater roams the city meeting the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of your favorite impossible-to-get tables.
On any given night you'll find celebrities, renowned epicureans and food industry thrill-seekers digging into the inventive, seasonal tasting menu at The Restaurant at Meadowood in the Napa Valley. The chef, Christopher Kostow has moonlighted on Iron Chef America, makes regular appearances in Eater's Hottest Chef competition, and—as if all that wasn't enough to drive in the masses—he recently became one of the youngest chefs on the planet to currently hold three Michelin stars. Director Nathaniel Dorn is the man at the door who makes sure everything continues to run like so.
Do people ever walk-in to The Restaurant at Meadowood without a reservation? How do you accomodate them? It’s very difficult for us to accommodate walk-ins, as we are a small dining room. We do however encourage those guests who are unable to secure a reservation to join us for dinner at our bar, where the full menu is available.
7:30 p.m. on a Saturday night, what's the wait for a table? If I’m doing my job right, no one should be waiting for a table.
As one of the few three-Michelin starred restaurants in the U.S., you've surely been offered gifts or cash in exchange for reservations or a table. What have people tried? Hmm?Thanks for the heads up. I’ll have to talk to our restaurant concierge about that one! I did notice an extremely expensive car parked in her spot the other day?
Tell us about your favorite customers. We love guests who are willing to leave everything in or hands—those that recognize what we are striving to accomplish, and allow us the opportunity to do what we feel we do best—provide a singular and enjoyable food and wine experience.
How do you deal with VIPS when there are no tables to give? All of are guests are treated as VIP’s and owing to the finite number of tables there are times when we are unable to accommodate reservation requests.
We've heard David and Victoria (Beckham) are sort of regulars. How does serving them usually go down? One reason why so many celebrities join us in the restaurant is that they know their presence is a well-guarded secret. Who are David and Victoria?
What's the most outrageous request from a customer you've ever had to accommodate? No request is too outlandish to at least consider accommodating – it just depends who you have on speed dial.
Where are you eating when you're not at Meadowood? The Restaurant is closed on Sundays, so that’s date night for my wife Tawyna and I. We usually find ourselves at REDD in Yountville, which happens to be down the street from our home making it much easier, after a long week, to enjoy a much deserved bottle of wine.
After you got the third Michelin star, did things change at all? Did you see a bump in reservations? A different breed of clientele? The phone has yet to stop ringing since last October, which is a fantastic problem to have. We are very grateful. I wouldn’t say that our clientele has changed; however we are now catching the attention of a wider audience and welcome the increased expectations.
At the end of the day, what's the one Gatekeeper tool you need to get the job done? Our foundation, which consists of an amazingly strong and dedicated team?a bottle of Krug at the end of each evening doesn’t hurt either.
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