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Restaurant: The Charter Oak

The Charter Oak

Good for you, Ali. You managed to walk the three blocks to The Charter Oak.

Well, it’s about time.

Not that The Charter Oak is inaccessible or difficult to visit. It’s actually easy, because it’s located right on Hwy 29 in St. Helena.

No, it’s more that I can be rather lazy about food and generally make my lunch from whatever’s on hand. But this change in routine was a welcomed one because it got me away from my microwaved leftovers and out among the living. Plus, it was a treat to hang out with friends and try a new (to me) venue.

The Charter Oak

The Charter Oak, which opened in June 2017, is a newly renovated, modern, vine-covered restaurant.

Outside there is a lovely, large, shady courtyard with tables, a lounge area surrounding a toasty fireplace, and a covered, heated terrace for dining.

The Charter Oak Patio


Inside is spacious and dark, with high ceilings and tall potted fig trees — and it was perfect for the crisp autumn day we visited.

 The Charter Oak Inside

Our decision to visit had been somewhat last minute, so we were pleased to get in without a reservation — especially because the folks who opened The Charter Oak are the same talented people that run the Michelin-rated Restaurant at Meadowood.

So, a quick stop or not, we were certainly going to make the most of the unplanned lunch.

The Food

Our server started us with the bread and butter — and that alone was perfect, I could’ve eaten just that and been happy. But we simply could not resist the date-stamped menu that featured so much seasonal, local, farm-fresh foods.

Here, look what we ordered. For three of us. OINK.

From the menu…

  • hearth roasted figs. local honey $8
  • our mortadella $8
  • crispy potato “tostones.” Mendocino seaweed browned butter $8
  • buffalo milk mozzarella from Petaluma. crispy brussels $12
  • salad of broccolis. puffed grains. ricotta $18
  • roasted avocado. Rancho Gordo beans. grilled squid $18
  • grilled buttermilk brined chicken. Napa grape leaves. fresh and dried grapes $23

Yes, we clearly over-ordered for three people. But how could we not?

Not only was it reasonably priced for wine country, but everything sounded so good, so interesting and different from what I would ever cook for myself at home.

I mean, do YOU cook “tostones” very often? Or roast your figs on the hearth? No, I didn’t think so.

Here’s a shot of the roasted avocado, beans and squid. So pretty, isn’t it?


I ate all those flowers.

The gluttony wasn’t helped by the fact that it’s a “family-style” dining experience, which I love because I get to try a little bit of everything and don’t end up suffering from food envy. That, plus I get to choose my favorites for next time — except their menu changes regularly, so that’s going to throw off my plan.

Hmm… Napa Valley problems.

Speaking of gluttony, we also made our way through a few glasses of the Wilson Foreigner Valdiguié, itself a fantastic red wine routine-breaker. It’s a small production wine, so if you happen to see it, grab some.

Wilson Foreigner Valdiguie

Alas, we had to wrap it up sooner than I’d have liked, without having one of their incredible looking cocktails or desserts. Boooo.

But I was glad to have tried all that I did and experience a delicious new restaurant and a fantastic lunch.

As for The Charter Oak? I’m officially a fan.

And, of course, I was very pleased to leave with multiple doggie bags. Tomorrow’s lunch was ready.

Ice Cube Says:

Chickity-check yo’ self
before you wreck yo’ self.
With this.


  1. Sara says:

    We keep forgetting about this place! Great review.

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