MICHELIN STAR CUISINE ~ AWARD WINNING WINE LIST
Ken Frank, Executive Chef/Owner
Our source of inspiration and direction for all things food and wine, Chef Ken has earned a stellar reputation for his personalized style of cooking, grounded in the French cuisine he grew to know and love while living in France as a teenager.
Frank first achieved national acclaim in 1977 when he was Chef of La Guillotine Restaurant at age 21. At that time he was a pioneer, insisting on using only the freshest, seasonal, quality ingredients. He was the original Chef at Michael’s in Santa Monica, considered the Los Angeles birthplace of “California Cuisine,” which he left in 1979 to open the first La Toque on the Sunset Strip at age 23. He finally heeded the call of the wine country and moved north to open a new La Toque in Rutherford in 1998.
After a successful ten-year run in Rutherford, Frank moved his signature restaurant to the Westin Verasa Napa in the fall of 2008. He can be found nightly, tasting wine, directing the kitchen, or mingling with his many long-time repeat guests in the dining room of La Toque.
Scot Livingston, Chef de Cuisine
Scot Livingston was born and raised in Michigan. His earliest food memories date back to time spent with his grandparents on their dairy farm. Many of his dishes today are inspired by this early introduction to the freshest possible produce picked at the peak of ripeness.
In 2002, Livingston relocated to California to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. He had every intention of returning home after graduation, however, it only took one mild winter for him to realize he would be making California his permanent home. After graduating from culinary school, Livingston accepted a position at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena where he sharpened his kitchen skills for seven years before heading to the beach, taking a job as sous chef at Studio at Montage resort in Laguna Beach.
In 2016, Livingston decided to make a change and moved to Napa where he joined Chef Ken Frank’s kitchen at Michelin-starred La Toque where he serves as Chef de Cuisine. At La Toque, he enjoys creating dishes with Wine Country’s bountiful produce and mentoring younger cooks on the staff.
Hayes Pickett, Pastry Chef
Hayes has been focused on desserts since her childhood. She loves the joy that sweets inspire in people. She came to her Culinary career later than many, after her sister asked, “no matter the training, no matter the pay, what would you really like to do?” The obvious answer was Pastry. With that encouragement, she took a part time job plating desserts at Garibaldi’s in Oakland. When she was quickly offered a full-time position, she gave up her day job and has been baking ever since. She moved to Napa to work as a Pastry Cook for Julia’s Kitchen at Copia. After Copia closed, she did a stint at Bardessono in Yountville before joining the team at La Toque in 2011. She has been the Pastry Chef since 2016. She is self-taught and a perfectionist, driven by her love of the process, taking pleasure in a shiny meringue, a smooth chocolate mousse or perfectly churned ice cream which gives us pleasure every day.
Robert Oakes, Restaurant Director
Proving yet again that if you follow your passion, good things will happen, “Mr. Oakes” humbly began his restaurant career making tacos in Houston, Texas. He was drawn to the Bay Area by his love of food and wine. He proceeded to fine-tune his culinary skills as Sous Chef in a number of good kitchens before shifting gears and moving to the front of the house for Bob Klein at Oliveto, in Rockridge. Robert settled in Napa with his family nearly fifteen years ago, working for Etoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon until he joined La Toque in 2012 as a Server. He quickly worked his way up to Assistant General Manager and then Restaurant Director.
Megan Menicucci, Reservations & Sales Manager
Great service begins with the reservation book.
Megan Menicucci was in the restaurant business before she got her driver’s license. She’s worked every role in the dining room, ultimately planting her flag at the front door, which is where she shines. Organization and attention to detail are in her DNA, perfectly suiting her position as Reservations and Sales Manager. She makes multitasking with charts, reservation lists, turn times and menu requests look far easier than it really is. If there is a way to make something happen, she will find it, and make sure everyone knows when.
Oh, and she really, really loves it when you show up on time.
Richard Matuszczak, Wine Director
A Chicago native, Richard is La Toque’s Certified “Wine Wrangler”, overseeing the purchase, organization and service of the 2100-plus wines on our Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine list; and if managing a collection of that size isn’t enough, he also finds the time to participate in almost daily tastings with Chef Ken Frank and the culinary team. Together, they cull wines to pair with every dish on all of Chef’s menus. Richard came on board with La Toque in 2012 and was the driving force behind our first Wine Spectator Grand Award in 2015.
Richard first caught the “wine bug” in 1995 on the opening crew of David Kinch’s Sent Sovi restaurant in Saratoga. Soon after, he began his climb up the Court of Master Sommelier’s ladder, passing his Introductory and Certified Sommelier Levels, achieving the Advanced Level in 2012. He holds certifications as a Specialist of Wine and Specialist of Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators and is on his way to graduating the WSET diploma program.
Richard can be found nightly in La Toque, on the floor serving our guests or roaming the cellar, tasting wines, and telling jokes that are drier than a Grand Cru Chablis.
Beki Miller, Sommelier
Like most of us, Beki has been working in Restaurants since she was barely old enough. Her first experience with great wine came at age 15 when she knocked over a bottle of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild while working at Caesar’s Tahoe. She was serving tables at Outback Steakhouse in Reno when she decided to go to culinary school and study wine. In 2011, she moved to the Bay Area and enrolled in the French Culinary Institute Sommelier program where she graduated at the top of her class and became a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is a chronic over-achiever and has won a number of prestigious competitions. She earned her Advanced pin from the Court in March 2017. Beki has worked at a number of the Bay Area’s finest restaurants including, Verbena, In Situ and Alexander’s Steakhouse. We talked her into joining our team in 2017. When she’s not helping guests find the perfect bottle of wine, she is also our resident Wagyu beef expert. Her two cats are appropriately named Sassicaia and Tignanello.
Welcome to Group Dining.
Thank you for considering La Toque for your special occasion dinner.
To ensure a seamless dining experience for your guests, as well the other tables in the restaurant, parties larger than eight are assisted in selecting a set or “semi-set” menu. With our Reservations & Sales Manager as your guide, you will make your selections for a Four Course or Five Course Tasting Menu, or choose our Chef-selected nine-course Chef’s Table Tasting Menu or six-course Vegetable Tasting Menu. If you wish, our Sommeliers will select just the right wine to pair with each dish, bringing years of wine and service experience directly to your table. Their expertly chosen wines and interaction with your guests can make for a truly memorable evening. You can make your wine selections from our Grand Award-winning Wine Cellar as well. The full list is available here, updated in real time; or you can download it from the App Store.
We can accommodate groups of up to 12 guests in our main dining room, and up to 45 on our beautiful glass-enclosed, fully heated terrace. For larger groups of up to 240 guests, we offer 12,000 square feet of event space, inside and out, within The Westin Verasa Napa property. Let us create a memorable experience for your next important event.
For sample menus and more information please download our Group Dining Packet
Annual All Black Truffle Menus
La Toque has long been known for our extravagant All Black Truffle Menus. Every January we feature this special menu with fresh black truffles in every course. January 2020 will mark our 38th year with this special menu.
For the past few years, we have been fortunate to enjoy a second “Winter” Truffle season with fresh Australian Black Truffles in June, July, and August. They are every bit as good as the finest European Truffles. The availability of Winter Truffles during our Summer season is particularly exciting as it allows us to cook them with a completely different set of ingredients. We are eagerly awaiting their arrival in early June.
We only use truffles from sources we know well and have used for years. We feature three species of fresh Truffles; Tuber magnatum pico, the true white truffle, Tuber melanosporum, the true winter black truffle and occasionally Tuber uncinatum, often referred to as the Summer or Burgundy truffle. Other species just don’t compare, and they’re not worth the money. We do not use truffles native to China or Oregon, although we look forward to the success of American truffle plantations in the next few years. The truffles from the Himalayas are technically truffles, but their flavor pales in comparison to the real thing. Sadly, many people don’t know the difference and are either easily fooled, or worse, mix them in with real truffles to cut costs.
We also don’t use “truffle oil”, “truffle cream”, “truffle honey” or “truffle salt” at La Toque. Flavored truffle products are crap, shunned by good chefs who know better. All of these products will desensitize your palate to the true but more subtle flavor of real fresh truffle. Truffles have been savored for millennia but truffle oil is a new phenomenon. It is no coincidence that “truffle oil” appeared only a few decades ago when flavor scientists figured out how to make it in the laboratory with chemicals that mimic the compounds responsible for truffles legendary aroma. If it was possible to produce truffle oil by natural means, the Romans would have figured it out, long ago. You can infuse some fresh truffle flavor into oil or butter, but it doesn’t keep any better than fresh truffles which are best consumed within 10 days of hunting. Because of this very short shelf life, real truffle flavored oil is simply not a viable product. Commercially produced truffle oil is invariably artificially flavored with 2,4 dithiapentane, no matter how fancy the bottle or prestigious the purveyor. It is simply too good to be true. Real “homemade” truffle flavored oil or butter is always subtle in flavor unlike the powerful products sold commercially. That little scrap of “truffle” at the bottom of the jar is often from an inferior species, and in any event, it takes much more than a little crumb of truffle to infuse oil with any amount of flavor.
You can see our truffle menus from previous years by clicking the links below.
Black truffle being shaved
Gift cards are available for purchase in any dollar amount. Our gift cards can be redeemed at either La Toque Restaurant or BANK Cafe and Bar. You may purchase gift cards at La Toque or BANK Cafe in person or via telephone by calling 707.257.5157.
Michael Bauer –San Francisco Chronicle – Three Stars
“One of the joys of eating at La Toque is the pairings created by Frank, sommelier Yoon Ha and wine director Scott Tracy. With pristine Bluefin tuna sashimi and fresh wasabi root, they match a 2007 Franz Hirtzberger Gruner Veltliner from Austria that helps to clean the palate without overpowering the delicate fish. Frog’s legs, fried and placed on top of fried green tomato in a puddle of garlic puree and a ring of sauce verte, were a perfect foil for the 2005 Ladoucette Pouilly Fume. Unlike chefs who create a dish and leave it to the wine guys to find the best match they can, Frank willingly adjusts dishes to bring out the best in the wine; in so doing he often brings out the best in the food.”
Harvey Steiman – The Wine Spectator
“A heightened wine sensibility informs this quintessential wine country restaurant, reminiscent of comfy lodges in Burgundy or the Loire… The wine list is long enough to include some of California’s hottest wineries (Staglin, Alban, Paradigm) and some depth in Bordeaux (mostly back to 1982) and eclectic enough to embrace a goodly number of nifty curiousities.”
Note: La Toque was named by the Wine Spectator as one of the best 20 restaurants in America in its March 31, 2000 issue.
Mike Dunne – Sacramento Bee
“Exciting restaurants abound in the Napa Valley nowadays, but La Toque honors timeless French culinary aesthetics while embracing the richness and boldness of contemporary California with a passion and sureness rarely found anywhere.”
Restaurant Critic for Gourmet
“The born-again La Toque is a dream come true – a wine-country restaurant for serious diners…For all his fondness for foie gras, Frank’s touch is so light and his menu so well designed that there’s no sense of heaviness when you get up from the table, even if you’ve chosen a supplemental cheese selection…Moving to wine country may be the smartest decision Ken Frank ever made.”
Darryl Roberts – Wine X Magazine
“…this is probably the finest restaurant in Napa Valley. Take it! Yeah, baby.”
Martin Booe – Bon Appétit
“Half of the fun of being at La Toque is the inspired pairing of the four-glass wine package with the prix fixe five-course tasting menu. The other half is sampling of Frank’s ever-changing array of light, French-inspired dishes.”
Tim Fish – The Wine Spectator
“Even among chefs cooking in wine country, Ken Frank has an extraordinary interest in wine, and it shows in his food. Frank’s flavor and texture palette relies on classically French techniques, which he caries with an American sense of freedom and whimsy. The results take to wine as seamlessly as Frank’s light, fragile hollandaise sauce melds to white asparagus in one of the chef’s perfectly rendered dishes… for a complete food and wine experience, no restaurant in Napa Valley can match La Toque. Frank’s food is impeccable, and the servers handle the complex menu options with aplomb.”