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The Vintage Press: Fine Dining In Visalia, Cali.

Last Visit: Oct., 2009

[rating: 4.0/5]

After a full and active day of flying over pomegranate orchards and picking them directly from the bushes, a group of food bloggers hosted by POM Wonderful, were hauled off to dinner at The Vintage Press, a mainstay in a small town. The ornate entrance speaks to what we were going to possibly experience inside.

Dinner started with a warm welcome by the Chef and Owner, David Vartanian. The 44-year old family-owned upscale restaurant sits near one of central California’s “Main” streets. Old world opulence and glamour set the interior’s ambiance. I immediately felt as if I was getting ready to have dinner with generations of classical period enthusiasts.

There was no doubt we were in for a great culinary experience.

Our banquet table inside the private “Garden Room” was adorned with fresh pomegranates, adding a lovely touch and individual settings had a customized menu, acknowledging our presence.

(wild mushroom in puff pastry, fresh salad with pom vinaigrette and apples)

I started off with the puff pastry with wild Shimeja mushrooms. The generous serving was juicy and cooked to a perfect degree of tenderness with the actual pastry shell solid enough to douse in the white wine  and tarragon sauce. I could have eaten 5 of those and foregone the main course. It was that divine.

For the main course I opted for the stuffed filet mignon cooked in a pomegranate reduction sauce with fresh arils sprinkled on top. The accompanying roasted mini pumpkin was stuffed with a succotash of sorts that paired well. Truthfully, had it not been there, the plate could have been just another excellent  steak. However, the color and structure added dimensions that made the dish stand out among the others.

I was able to nibble on someones pistachio crusted salmon. This here was close to utter perfection. Not all fish are made equal. Not all salmon is made equal. On its own, the fish is powerful. Covering it in any type of sauce can be tricky. But the pistachio and cream combination was subtle enough to allow the salmon to maintain its fidelity but also allow the sauce to excite the taste buds. There was nothing else too spectacular about that entrée. The thin roasted potatoes would have sufficed. Adding the vegetable medley was begging for attention it didn’t need.

Overall the main course options met fine dining expectations. Nothing was was under or over cooked. Nothing was too fancy or short of ingredient sophistication. It was in sync with typical Italian family dinner.

In addition to the great food, I completely appreciated the customer service dished by everyone. The chef, a low-key and modest man, spoke softly without any pretenses. He shared his food from the gut and openly shared stories of the evolution of the restaurant as a tightly run family business.

100-year old needlepoint artwork on the walls, he explains, was imported directly from Italy and once belonged to hierarchy there.

(filet mignon with pom glaze, stuffed pumpkin, quinoa salad; lemon basil seared salmon with fresh arils, roasted red potato slices, roasted fall vegetables; me loving my plate)

Dinner slowly came to an end with 17 grossly full bellies. The indulgence of great food was simply irresistible. The only thing I opted out of was wine and cocktails. I vicariously enjoyed POMtini’s and glasses of Chardonnay as they sparkled from across the table.

Only a place like The Vintage Press could really make a wonderful dinner that much more special. Everything was divine, especially with the added touch of the red  detail. I’m sure they put extra effort, into our dinner, but truth be told, everything was so seamless it felt befitting that they’d treat every diner the same way.

Fortunately, dessert came faster than I anticipated. While full with little capacity for anything more, I scanned the table and noticed how everyone was quickly  devouring the sexalicious treats to pieces. Literally. I had the pomegranate sorbeto in a crispy wafter, drizzled with créme Englais and lightly dusted with confectioner’s azúcar,  sipped on some espresso and was done for the night!

It just could not have gotten any better.

The restaurant boasts accolades from Fedor and the L.A. Times and Wine Spectator, to name a few. If you’re in the area, especially during fall harvest, be kind to yourself and enjoy a fabulous evening here.


Tel: (559) 773-3033 | W: thevintagepress.com

216 North Willis St., Visalia, CA 93291

Dinner: $18-$50

Drinks: $7.50-$10.00

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