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La ToqueThe Westin Verasa, Napa, CA

Chef Ken Frank’s Michelin Star La Toque restaurant has an intimate new home in the heart of downtown Napa at the new Verasa Westin Hotel.  Helmed by a passionate chef and two world-class sommeliers, La Toque is a quintessential Wine Country restaurant, where guests have the option of enjoying every course with a wine that’s superbly matched. CCS Architecture designed the gorgeous, indoor-outdoor space to support warm, personal experiences. “At La Toque,” commented Frank, “there is lots of interaction in everything we do.”

Guests literally enter the restaurant through a corner of the kitchen, a luxurious, open space where Frank orchestrates the meals while greeting guests. This is a chef-driven restaurant where the chef happens to be here all the time. “This is what I love to do.”

At the entry, a 20-foot slab of Carrera marble creates an elegant, minimal barrier between the guest and the kitchen. Directly behind the host table, an eight-bottle wall display presents the wines that will be used in the day’s wine pairings. The host table transitions into a small service bar with red leather counter stools and views to the 5000-bottle wine cellar. La Toque’s wine program is considered one of the best in America. =

A white oak, casework wall, punctuated with windows, separates the kitchen from the dining room.  Guests can see the exhibition cooking suite, but the action does not dominate the dining experience. A chef’s table is located in the kitchen to accommodate parties that want a highly interactive experience of the kitchen action. The Chef’s table seats a party of six and is surrounded by Ebonized wood paneling and a bronze-framed display of Chef Ken Frank’s first Toque; earned while he was still a teenager.

Luxurious green coach cloth upholstered booths–in different shapes and sizes–define the perimeter of  the main dining room and are arranged to accommodate different dining party sizes.  A working sommelier table, also made from white marble, extends in the same line as the bar, defining a side of the dining room. The comprehensively designed table, with its exuberant flower display, integrates a sink for cold wines and glass racks to hold the restaurant’s Reidel stems. It allows the sommeliers to stay on the floor and provide great service, table-by-table, course-by-course.

A large fireplace clad in stacked, Rojo Alicante marble highlights another side of the room.  Light fixtures crafted from wood, metal, and textured art glass give a sense of how the object was made.  The simplicity of the space, with its luxurious blending of materials, allows guests to focus on the food and the wine.

Two large sets of pivoting doors on either side open seasonally onto a spacious outdoor patio. Here, retractable awnings, wind control features, heaters, built-in wooden benches with comfortable cushions, and a large, outdoor fireplace allow guests to take advantage of Napa’s mild weather and outdoor dining culture.