A Diner's Journal - Mustard's Grill

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mustardsgrill.jpegEvery now and then I have to be reminded just how great Mustard's really is. We have so many wonderful dining establishments in Napa Valley and I somehow tend to think of Mustard's Grill as a tourists' place (probably because it was one of the first places I went to when I was a tourist), so we just don't go to Mustard's all that often. I've always enjoyed this place, but it took the suggestion of friends visiting here from Southern California to bring me back to my senses - and a really fun dining experience.

First, there's the place itself. That funky, always bustling, energetic dining room, the "rainy day guy" sculpture in front of the restaurant, and the STOP sign that reads "Please STOP in Again" always have me smiling even before I reach my table. Then there's the menu. It's always a challenge to try something new instead of retreating to my old favorites, the Crispy Calamari with curried slaw and Fresno chilies and the Half Slab Barbequed Baby Back Ribs with creamy horseradish coleslaw and crispy sweet potatoes. Last time I managed to leave my comfort zone and loved the "salad of the day" with garden greens, pears, candied pecans and a creamy vinaigrette. I also adored the Hunan Grilled Chicken salad with ginger-soy noodles, Asian slaw and toasted Sesame seed.

Another Mustard's classic is the Famous Mongolian Pork Chop with organic Berkshire Pork and sweet & sour red cabbage. One of our party had this and said it's the best pork chop he's ever had. The ½ pound Niman Ranch cheeseburger with fries was excellent, but my husband says he still prefers the burger at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen (Mustard's sister restaurant in St. Helena). A side order of the Onion Rings with tomato-apple ketchup is one of my husband's perennial favorites, but on our last visit they were a little "clumpy" and not as crispy as we remembered. The side of Creamy Horseradish Coleslaw was good but could have used more horseradish. Next time I'll ask for some extra on the side.

You cannot go wrong with Lemon and Garlic Chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and garden vegetables or the Tea Smoked Duck. And the daily specials - fresh fish, seafood tostada, and the meat-lovers' "Truckstop Deluxe" are usually fun and delicious.

I rarely have room for dessert at Mustard's Grill but the Classis Crème Brulee with bourbon vanilla bean and the Banana Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce both drew rave reviews. As for me, I'd rather spend my daily allotment of calories on those Baby Back ribs.

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