Results tagged “restaurant reviews” from Food

New Napa Valley Restaurant: Empire Napa Grand Opening - May 18th

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empireNapa_Logo.jpgDowntown Napa continues to add sizzle to it's list of hot restaurants and wine lounges. Joining the ranks of Morimoto Napa, Carpe Diem Wine Bar, 1313 Main, Oenotri, and the Thomas and Fagiani's Bar is Empire Napa having it's grand opening this Saturday, May 18th.

Empire hopes to showcase the trademark Napa charm with a cosmopolitan sophistication as a new contemporary small plates restaurant and lounge. The menu will focus on high quality, fresh  ingredients with a host of influences including Asian, Mediterranean, Italian, French, and nostalgic Americana. Plates range from $5-$20 where an individual can easily enjoy a bite and something to drink in as little as 20 minutes or savor as many as 12 courses over three hours with cocktails and wines.

empireNapa_cocktail.jpgA sneak peek at some of the dishes on the menu:

  • Lemongrass Chicken Wraps, Peanut Sambal and Cilantro
  • Mushrooms, Crispy Sage Polenta, Spinach and Preserved Lemon
  • Lamb Belly, Moroccan BBQ Sauce and Pickled Cabbage
  • Mango Kulfi Popsicle with Peanut Caramel
Signature Cocktails ($12-$16):

  • French 75: Linie Aquavit, Lemon, Chardonnay
  • Daiquiri: Lemon Hart 151, Demerara Sugar, Lime Juice, Orange Bitters
  • Ukiah Sour: Mi Casa Blanco Tequila, Lavender Syrup, Lime, Bergamont Bitters

Perhaps even more exciting to those looking for more nightlife options in Napa is that Empire Napa will will be open Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 5pm-12am, and Friday/Saturday, 5pm-2am which will showcase some of the best DJs in the Bay Area.

Empire Napa, 1400 First Street, Napa, CA; (707) 687.1234

2010 Restaurant Retrospective

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Deirdre Bourdet

2010 will go down in Napa history as The Year of the Restaurant.  We saw no fewer than twelve new restaurants opening their doors within a half mile of each other, making the downtown region the new dining hot spot of the Valley.  Each new arrival brought something special to the eating scene that is worthy of note.  Here's my highly subjective take on what each new place has done for Napa, in roughly chronological order.

1.    Grace's Table Husband and wife team Mauro and Nancy transformed the modern Elements space into a comfortable neighborhood restaurant with neighborhood prices, satisfying global comfort food, and a warm welcome at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  No one else in town pumps out the variety of housemade jams, breads, stews, burgers, tamales, gnocchi, and salads at accessible prices like these guys do.

Wake Up Call

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Where to enjoy the best breakfasts in Wine Country.

by Jill Silverman Hough

There's nothing like waking up in Wine Country, with the promise of a perfect day ahead. So, why not indulge in an amazing breakfast? Whether you like to ease into the day with coffee and a fresh-baked scone, or you're up for a three-course brunch, here are the spots to start your day off right.

Cantinetta Piero
The venue: A hotel restaurant, but the hotel feels like a bit of Tuscany.
The food: The two-course prix fixe breakfast starts with fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, a small pastry, and yogurt with fruit and house-made granola. Then, it moves to your choice of three egg dishes. Go for the side of artisan-smoked bacon, and linger over every bite.
The prices: $18 (30 percent off for locals).
The details: Breakfast Mon.-Sun. 7:30-10 a.m. 6774 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 299-5015, cantinettapiero.com.

Solbar
The venue: Michelin star-rated hotel restaurant, with a hip yet casual vibe.
The food: The on-premise garden influences the menu, and everything is expertly prepared. Lemon ricotta pancakes are crisp around the edges but light inside, thanks to whipped egg whites. Beef for the hash is house corned. Juices aren't just fresh squeezed, they're squeezed to order. And coffee comes in a personal French press.
The prices (entrées): $11-$17.
The details: Breakfast Mon.-Sun. 7-11 a.m., brunch Sun. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, (707) 226-0800, solbarnv.com.

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The New School of Fish on the Napa River

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Lobster Roll.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The City of Napa straddles the Napa River, once a plentiful source of Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, bass, and sturgeon.  Although the river's edible bounty has diminished with human development of the area, the recent wave of seafood restaurants opening along both banks is restoring some of the river's former glory as the place to go for delicious fish.

Morimoto Napa led the way when it opened in the Riverfront building in August this year, bringing Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's deft and respectful style of seafood preparation.  Pristine freshness, creative compositions, and sophisticated flavors make this the go-to restaurant for sushi lovers in the North Bay.  (See our previous coverage here.)

French Laundry Alum Does Takeout

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tunasalad.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The French Laundry stands for many things... culinary perfectionism, wine country elegance, technical rigor, epicurean prestige, pristine ingredients, and the elusiveness of dinner reservations.  This August, a former French Laundry chef launched a more accessible form of culinary talent in the Oxbow Public Market.  

Graham Zanow and his wife Andrea are both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.  Andrea hails from Napa originally, so after several years of private chef-ing and other cooking jobs in various places, they settled in Napa and started Graham's Catering, an elite full service catering company with a passion for local and sustainable products. Last year the company catered meals for the Top Chef crew of celebrity judges, contestants, and crew members during the season 6 finale in Napa Valley, and this year, they opened a take-out storefront at the Oxbow Public Market.

Best Bets For Brunch in Napa

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By Deirdre Bourdet

I'm a firm believer in the classic mom maxim that breakfast is the most important meal of the day--particularly if your day begins in Napa.  Lining the stomach against all-day wine tasting, and feeding the brain in order to remember what you've experienced are both essential for optimal enjoyment of this food and wine paradise. Here are some of the best places in Napa proper to begin your taste adventure.

Auberge du Soleil, Terrace des Délices

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aubergeOutsideDining.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The terrace seating at Auberge du Soleil is an institution. Not simply for the people-watching possibilities, or for the ultra-romantic setting, or for the impeccable Relais & Chateaux service, or even for the perfectly executed and perfectly delicious cuisine from chef Robert Curry.  Dining on the Auberge terrace is special because it offers all of these in one spectacular place--and that's the reason it belongs on the bucket list of everyone who loves the wine country.

It's Never Too Hot To Eat

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gougere blt.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Sunday's Wine Women and Shoes event at HALL St. Helena had the largest, hottest turnout to date... literally.  The temperature felt like it was well into the triple digits, and guests were gulping down the white wine and water like camels at an oasis.  Fortunately, many of the participating food vendors anticipated the fiery June inferno and were dishing out cool, refreshing nibbles to reinvigorate our appetites, help us cool off... and inspire follow-up visits to the kitchens from whence they came.

Several savvy restaurants were offering chilled soup shots to down in between mouthfuls of sauvignon blanc.  The Restaurant at Meadowood offered up elegant shooters of their peak-of-the-season English pea soup with yogurt and hazelnut oil, a beautiful layering of earth, nuts, sweetness, and tang.  Zuzu Restaurant also went green with their avocado gazpacho, a naturally buttery, round and soothing little cold compress for your mouth.  I had to escort myself from the area to avoid stealing all the remaining samples from Betty Teller of the Register, who was womanning Zuzu's table that afternoon.

Dining in Santa Ynez

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Salmon special at Trattoria Grappolo

Image by greenlagirl via Flickr

By Robert P. Farmer

Trattoria Grappolo
Typically bustling with locals, this lively hotspot was opened by an inspired chef transplanted from the Calabria region of Italy. The roast fish and chicken specialties suit nicely after a day of wine tasting in the area. The pizzas from the wood-fired oven are also a popular draw. The wine list features greatest hits from the surrounding valley vineyards as well as selections from the chef's home country. When dinner's done, slip next door to the Maverick Saloon for some true local flavor.

Open for lunch:
Tues-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm;
Open for dinner:  Mon-Sun 5-10pm
3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez
(805) 688-6899

Frankie's Italian Deli & Grocery

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frankiesDeli.jpgNew Downtown Napa Deli

I had pretty much given up hope in finding a really good deli sandwich for lunch in downtown Napa. Too often workmates tried to lure me to makeshift deli places and each time I left disappointed and many times throwing my sandwich away on the sly. As a result, I decided to just part ways with this standard fare for lunch. And certainly, downtown Napa has plenty of other lunchtime options.

However, today I ventured into Frankie's Italian Deli located on 1502 Main Street at the urging of a friend who boasted she loved everything on the menu.  "Everything"?  Hmmm. I decided to order the Genoa sandwich which had Italian salami, provolone & anchovies, red onion, leaf lettuce, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette on a French roll. (had them add pepperonchinis too).  And my opinion on the matter?

The Locals Know Where To Dine in Monterey

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Marie Galbo

Business brought me to Monterey; my stomach brought me to the Monterey Fish House.

I have only been to Monterey a couple of times so I stopped a few places and asked some locals for recommendations on where to eat with the remark "I don't need fluff & puff, just want good food".   Nearly every person mentioned Monterey Fish House.  I set out to find the location and turns out the fish house was right around the corner from where I was staying at Lone Oak Lodge.   

Coup de Coeur à Bordeaux

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La Tupina cepes and Fronsac.jpgby Deirdre Bourdet

What, who, or where is a must-see on a trip to Bordeaux? According to a former colleague of mine, a cozy little restaurant called La Tupina. A quick perusal of their website revealed that this 30 year old + establishment prides itself on simple, classic bordelais specialties, prepared with the finest local ingredients and a hefty dose of nostalgic passion. When I read that French president Nicolas Sarkozy had also lunched there on his recent visit to the city, I figured there really was something to this place, and cut out early from Vinexpo's lunacy to see for myself.

Incredibly, on a day when 50,000 wine industry members had overtaken the city, I walked in without a reservation at the height of the lunch hour and scored a prime table on their terrace. Even more incredibly, I also scored a very amiable and helpful waiter... yes, they do exist in France.

Indulgence Within Reach

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bounty_hunter_winebar.jpegby Deirdre Bourdet

Far more could be said about the positive aspects of the recession than would fit on this blog, so I'll limit this discussion to some of the incredible discounts available these days on Napan indulgences.

One of my personal favorites is the all-day Monday happy hour at Bounty Hunter, where the entire stable of "house" brands is two-for-one by the glass... including the Waypoint Vineyards Beckstoffer/To Kalon wines, normally $20 a pop.  If you can make it in between 3 and 6 p.m.  on the other weekdays, the same deal applies.  Consider adding a "mini" barbecue sampler plate heaped with pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and coleslaw to your tab, and you've basically got dinner and two glasses of killer wine for $35.

The Best Shrimp Tacos north of Baja...

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La Taquiza sign.jpg

By Deirdre Bourdet

Who knew they would turn up in a suburban shopping plaza just off Highway 29 in Napa? Or that they would be offered alongside fabulous mushroom quesadillas and scarily good grilled octopus burritos?

La Taquiza is a gem. Though the restaurant name suggests that the fish tacos are the can't be missed signature item, do not be misled. Shrimp is the way to go here. Perfectly grilled to order, juicy, succulent shrimp, to be specific, buried under fresh shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, salsa verde, and a luxurious dollop of crema. All you need to attain nirvana is to anoint them with your condiments of choice--pickled onions, more pico de gallo, and/or one of the housemade salsas, as you prefer--and lift the Mexican masterpiece to your lips.

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