“Wine is an essential part of the meal,” said Chad Melville of Melville Vineyards as everyone at the table followed a bite of seared sea scallop with a sip of Pinot Noir. Terri Stark agreed, saying,”It’s [wine] a food group.”  Terri and her husband, Mark Stark, own Stark Reality in Santa Rosa California, with Stark’s Steakhouse being their pride and joy. The couple, who met Jeremiah Bacon at the James Beard House, joined Chad Melville, Bacon, and the rest of the Oak Steakhouse team to create a meal that that took guests on a sensory expedition. 

The scallops shared a bowl with parmesan dumplings, cauliflower, and tonka bean brown butter that offered a touch of salinity and savory warmth. The dish was originally paired chardonnay, but a last minute change to 2011 Estate Pinot Noir proved to be the call of the day. The use of stems during fermentation allowed the wine to develop an herbal umami character that made each and every bite of the dish shine. 

The night continued with 2012 Block “M” Pinot Noir  and crispy Moulard duck breast with spaetzle, cipollini onions, and apple cider gastrique, which was fabulous, but what’s a trip to a steakhouse without some beef? 

Both Jeremiah Bacon and Mark Stark only use the best: Certified Angus Beef. For this dish, guests were treated with a coffee and star anise crusted prime dry-aged New York strip with bacon-onion marmalade, potatoes aligot, and salsa verde with a plush and spicy Syrah. 

As we savored every last bite of the flavorful strip, Kelly Murray of Certified Angus Beef was nice enough to teach our table about the very strict quality specifications of the brand, in which we learned that they have guy that’s sole job is to make sure they’re only using the very best beef — a meat scientist. Now that’s a job we can be thankful for.