Excuse the alphabet soup but TORC in Napa is the latest and hottest restaurant on the Napa scene. Only open for a few weeks, Chef Sean O'Toole's latest endeavor is quickly capturing the hearts and palates of Napa locals! OMG (Oh my God!) is clearly in order for this well situated and welcoming eatery. One would be well advised to get in before it explodes and it takes weeks to get a reservation.
The Vibe and the Venue are electric and inviting with a long bar accommodating about 17 people and a fully exposed kitchen crossing the whole back wall. As many as 90 people can be seated at the wood topped tables with enough spacing to provide an acceptable level of privacy. The exposed stone walls and austere surroundings, however, encourage the focus on the food. TORC is a reference to wild boar, a send up to Sean's Gaelic heritage where wild boar represents feasts and hospitality. In a phrase - rustic wine country chic!
The Service was attentive without being intrusive. Including GM Jonathan Wendorf, we were served by at least 7 different staff members who made sure we had water, bread (the best), wine, fresh silverware and anything else we might need to enjoy the food and the surroundings.
The Food, of course, is the point of it all. Here, Chef Sean has a simple message, "good food and hot dishes"! Clearly an effort to entice locals to become regulars, Sean offers good food at fair prices that one would be willing to pay on a regular (weekly?) basis. He employs fresh local produce, meats and game to create dishes that border on comfort food except they are on steroids (not literally!)...flavorful, creative and visually attractive.
How about Deviled Eggs? When did you last see them on a menu? The little bits of bacon provide a crunchiness and texture that tantalizes. In fact, every dish we tasted had a wonderful combination of taste, texture and color that stimulated the eye, palate and brain as you tried to decipher the components of the dish. Crunchiness was a recurring theme in a very positive way.
TORC's menu includes starters for sharing (e.g. Deviled Eggs and Bengali Sweet Potato Pakora with yogurt truffle dip), individual cold (Hirame Crudo was fabulous) and hot (highly recommend the Duck Agnolotti) appetizers, sides (Creamy Coconut Basmati Rice) and five or six main courses. Check out the accompanying slideshow!
Sean O'Toole is personally and intently engaged with his kitchen staff, and, when time allows, with his guests. As the crush of guests receded he was on the floor schmoozing the remaining crowd to get feedback and provide thematic context to the restaurant and his culinary creations.
TORC is located on 1140 Main Street in Napa and has street side parking. The downtown location also allows for walking about and enjoying the lights and decorations of the holiday season in downtown Napa.
Tá súil agam a théann tú taitneamh a bhaint as Torc! (Gaelic for: Hope you go enjoy TORC!)