*This article was edited on May 3rd to reflect the new vegan-friendly labeling that is being added to Archetype’s menu!
My food and beverage were provided to me at no charge in exchange for this blog post about my experience. There was no attempt by the owner or staff of Archetype to influence my review and no future benefits were promised to me. This post is my honest opinion of my experience!
Much like the food, the atmosphere of Archetype is clean, light, bright and sophisticated. Designed by architect and founder Howard Backen, it has been named one of the “10 Most Beautifully Designed” by Architectural Digest. His wife and co-founder, Ann Backen, has recently taken charge of the food and has begun piveting the menu toward “cleaner & greener” offerings that include 20 vegan & vegan-optional choices. Whether you are in the mood for brunch, dinner or dessert there is something creative & delicious for everyone.
Two years ago, after Ann was diagnosed with incurable cancer and given only 3 months to live, her relationship with food began to evolve. Having been in the health care industry for 25 years, she refused standard treatment and instead enrolled in the Comprehensive Cancer Wellness Program offered by Hippocrates Health Institute. This holistic healthcare is designed to complement and integrate with standard medical care to maximize healing and recovery potential. One part of the program introduced Ann to an organic, vegan & mostly raw lifestyle for two weeks. And though her cancer remains incurable, she is doing much more that surviving – she is thriving. Her diet now consists of about 80% plant based and 20% animal protein but she does believe that “the future is plant based”.
This new relationship with food shows very clearly in the direction she is taking Archetype’s ingredients and menu. Collaborating with local, organic farmers through F.E.E.D, a micro-regional produce distributor, and Green Leaf, a group of small scale farmers, that provide microgreens, produce and nutrient rich medicinal flowers, she is embracing a hyperlocal concept toward food. The food that comes into the kitchen is always fresh; never frozen. The entrees include high-quality nut, sesame & olive oils. Their use of uber healthy fats like chia seeds and super nutrient-rich spices like turmeric in the food they prepare also really impressed me. And they are currently working to offer non-GMO corn 100% of the time.
She has also surrounded herself with an incredible team. Chef Anthony and Sous Chef/Pastry Chef Christine are both classically trained and are taking creativity to a whole new level. When I spoke to each of them, their passion for making plant based food look like a work of art and taste extraordinary was palpable! Christine was excited to share with me that the pizza dough and crackers served are all made in-house. She has even mastered a plant based chocolate ice cream that is sweetened with dates instead of sugar. Crystal, the Director of Events shared several of the success stories that she has experienced since the menu became plant based strong 2 months ago. One event she helped plan had guests that required 8 different dietary choices ranging from vegan to gluten free to peanut free. With the newly expanded menu she can continue to plan events like this knowing everyone in the party will “be happy”. And since adding the Buddha Bowl to the menu (which can be made vegan without the egg) it has become so popular they needed to order more bowls to serve it! Unlike many other Napa Valley restaurants, Chef Anthony offers up the entire menu for those of you planning a private or semi-private event at Archetype. They also offer lifestyle oriented workshops and hope to include more plant based educational events and Meatless Mondays in the future. General Manager Jeff Bareilles has been working with Ann for about a year & has done an extraordinary job!
Now onto the amazing food I had the opportunity to enjoy…There were so many choices, I asked Ann to order some of her favorites off the menu. The meal started with the Beet Hummus surrounded by fresh crudités & a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil. The earthy beets were a delicious change from a typical chickpea hummus. The vegan corn chowder decorated with edible flowers was almost too beautiful to eat. When I head back in with friends and family next week, I will definitely be ordering the soup once again. The crispy shallots, refreshing grapefruit and cashew ‘cheese’ dressing made the mixed baby green salad one of my favorite salads. As much as I loved everything I ate, the fermented cauliflower steak paired with romesco, green-garlic puree & toasted almond-currant relish was my favorite part of the meal! The flavors & textures were incredible. Christine put together a gorgeous nice cream sundae of her vegan cashew-coconut ice cream paired with beet puree, aqua faba meringues, raspberry sauce & fresh berries. It was just glorious. The ice cream was sweet and creamy & paired so perfectly with the dark purple beet puree. Served in a Ball jar, they sent me home with their chia seed pudding made with coconut golden milk, berries, maple syrup, flowers, cocoa nibs & kumquats. I had half of it for breakfast and the other half after a particularly challenging day at the gym. The coconut, berries and edible flowers made it into something very special! After finishing the meal, instead of feeling weighted down, I felt energized and alive. One of the core values of Archetype is to “showcase and celebrate” food and they are doing just that.
The vegan-friendly menu items are going to be labeled with a green sprout. Just to make your mouth water, here is a list of the many plant based options you can choose from:
- Avocado Toast (without the trout)
- Baby Beets (served with coconut yogurt)
- Beet Hummus
- Bowl of fruit
- Buddha Rice Bowl (extra veggies added; egg removed)
- Cabbage salad (replace dressing with cashew cheese; remove bacon)
- Chia Seed Pudding (without the bee pollen)
- Chilled Asparagus (without the cheese) – I am sooo ordering this next time!
- Cauliflower Steak
- Corn or Spring Onion soup
- English Pea Falafel (without the tzatziki)
- Grain, Seed & Nut Porridge (without the parmesan & egg) – this sounds really delish!
- Granola served with almond milk
- Kale salad
- Mixed Baby Lettuces salad
- Pizza – regular crust with cashew cheese, tomato sauce & veggies
- Plant Based Chocolate or Vanilla ice cream
- Cashew-Coconut Ice Cream Sundae with raspberry sauce, berries, aquafaba meringue
- Seasonal Sorbet
- Roasted Artichoke (order without the aioli)
Ann’s vision on using healthful and delicious food as “the architecture of a well lived life” has won me over as her biggest fan. I dreamed that one day there would be a restaurant like Archetype in Napa Valley and here it finally is! Archetype is an experience that should not be missed when you visit our beautiful Valley. So make your reservation now…Let’s explore the world together and as always…eat, drink & be vegan!