Napa Valley Restaurants–February 2019

We recently headed to Napa Valley for the annual Premier Napa Valley. As we discussed in our blog, this event is a chance for retail wine buyers and restauranteurs and media to taste new releases. It is also a fund raiser for Napa Valley.

Napa Valley Restaurants

Each event offers a range of snacks, ranging from basic crackers, bread and bread sticks to lovely selections of charcuterie and artisan cheeses. Most also offered a range of passed appetizers that began with Bloody Mary shooters and grilled prawns in the morning to a range of sliders and soups in the afternoons. Still, we found some time to explore a few of the valley’s new restaurants, and to return to traditional favorites.

  • La Calenda  is Thomas Keller’s newest casual, Yountville restaurant: the Oxxacan-themed La Calenda. Our lunch here began with a sinfully fattening, although very tasty Quesa Fundito, a type of local cheese fondue that was served with tortillas and salsa verde. This was followed by two dishes, the best of which was sautéed shrimp with roasted garlic and a medley of wilted greens. The other, which after a confused order and a set of odd exchanges with the server that claimed he need to get a manager’s permission to replace the dish with the one we originally ordered, was a less satisfying chicken enchilada smothered in mole negro. While lunch was OK, we do not plan to return.
  • Kitchen Door is located in Napa’s Oxbow Market Our lunch here consisted of a chicken pho with rice noodles, bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro and jalapeno. We also had a two-cheese mushroom pizza with maitake and trumpet mushrooms and parmesan cream sauce. Both were delicious.
  • Oenatri. We shared several dishes with some friends for dinner. We were supposed to start with one of the spot’s justly famous pizzas, a four-cheese with tomato and hot pepper. Due to some mix-up in order, our dinner started with two pasta dishes. The radiatore with short rib sugo, tomato, onion and Meyer lemon gremolata was acceptable, but less than exciting. Better, albeit still not memorable, was gigli with green garlic pesto, Meyer lemon, pistachios and Pecorino Romano. Our entrees were similarly good but not sufficiently inspiring to drive a quick return. the crispy hen with smashed Yukon Gold potato, roasted carrots and salsa verde was certainly crispy (a bit too fried for our taste) and the hen was fried chicken, instead of the Cornish hen-type bird we had expected. Similarly fine but less than inspired, was a thin, medium-rare steak smothered with tomato, garlic, hot pepper, oregano, parmesan and arugula. And once the pizza came, it was only OK. We had all been here before and enjoyed the restaurant. But we all agreed to look for another place next time.
  • Mimimashi is a popular Japanese izakaya restaurant that offers a wide range of Japaenes dishes, ranging from sashimi to teppanaki and robato dishes. Four of us shared a selection of dishes, from roasted Japanese sweet potato and Napa cabbage Okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake topped with bacon, katsuobushi, kimchi, nori, tonkatsu sauce and other ingredients) to Hamachi collar and grilled robato dishes including chicken breast and belly. This along with Gunmaa Tzumi sake—and finished off by one of the restaurant’s ice cream deserts; ours was rum raison topped with miso caramel and candied walnuts. All of this made for a very pleasant and very reasonably-priced meal. A definate place to revisit on another visit.
  • Bounty Hunter, a BBQ restaurant in downtown Napa. Our ribs were OK,  but they lacked the deep favor that would make them better. Their sauce selections for the ribs were disappointing. We can find better places to eat.

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