Posts Tagged ‘Napa Valley top restaurants’

Cuisine:International. Wine country meets Mexico, Asia and Europe.

Visit: October 2012

Price: High (From $12 to $30 for some main courses – portions are generous though; a five-course tasting menu $80-$125 with wine pairing).

Chef: Redd is the first independent dining venture from an acclaimed Northern California chef Richard Reddington, whose last name features in the title of the restaurant in Yountville. The chef’s abundant experience from San Francisco’s Masa’s and Jardiniere, and the Michelin stared Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley was an ideal foundation for his fusion cooking at Redd.

Lieu Dit Chenin Blanc

Atmosphere: Vibrant, cool and unpretentious. The bar is a popular hangout of  local winemakers as well as tourists. They all know that Redd has one of the best selections of niche (less known, but great) wines from California, and the buzzing and exiting conversations at the bar and on the tables are a reliable proof of these wines attention-grabbing tastes. A great aspect of Napa is that the dress code is mostly very relaxed. Wear jeans and a nice shirt or a cool dress to impress.

The bar area at Redd

Food: The food can hardly be more international. The menu blends Japanese, Chinese, Mediterranean, Mexican as well as the local California cuisine. The chef took a bit of each and created a vibrant menu full of exotic cum local flavours. Asia seems to be ruling half of the starter menu. From the bar snacks I highly recommend the Steamed pork buns with hoisin and vegetable slaw inspired by Chinese cooking. The buns are so soft reminding me of the Czech “kynute knedliky” (soft and chewy dough dumplings filled with various meats and vegetables) and the topping of chopped pork with hoisin sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds are a perfect and generous start to your dinner.

Chinese steamed pork dumplings

From the Asia-inspired restaurant’s starters go for either – the refreshing Sashimi of hamachi, sticky rice, edamame and soy ginger sauce or the flavor-bursting Yellowfin tuna tartare, asian pear, avocado, chili oil, fried rice with cilantro. Both are perfect with a glass of white wine from a rich Chardonnay to a less usual crisp and mineral Chenin Blanc (I had Lieu Dit).

Sashimi of hamachi

Mexican influence is pertinent mainly in the bar menu. I was taken aback by the crispy Santos’ Fish tacos with salsa, guacamole and creme fraiche. California has an excellent Mexican food, yet there are only some places where the fish tacos are simply a star.

Moving to California with Lettuce cups, stir fried chicken, eggplant and scallions, it was time to switch to a more intense white wine such as oaky Chardonnay, so abundant in this corner of the world. The lettuce leafs lighten up the chopped stir fried chicken and are fun to eat as you wrap everything into the lettuce and just crunch it as it was a piece of taco.

My favourite appetizer were the Mediterranean Lamb meatballs cooked in tomato curry, crowned by pinenuts and a drizzle of greenish mint yogurt. Turkey, Tunisia and Greece meet in this meal. The tender lamb balls were mind-blowing and the sauce had spices as well as soothing mint to balance the meaty heaviness of this dish. Drink Pinot Noir, Syrah or a more fruity style of Cabernet Sauvignon with it.

Lamb meatballs

Looking for something yummy and filling for the main course? The Crispy chicken thigh, cheddar cheese polenta, molé sauce, and lime is the perfect choice for you. The polenta with cheddar cheese was my weak part of this course, it was so tasty and perfectly cooked that I just mixed it with the sauce and left the chicken to my partner. Still on the heavier side but smaller starter portion is the Glazed pork belly served with apple purée, burdock and Asia-inspired soy caramel. The ingredients perfectly match the pork belly playing on richness and slight sweetness on the plate.

A bit lighter, yet not a low-calorie diet meal, is the Alaskan halibut, fried green tomatoes, corn pudding, romaine. The fish was soaked in buttermilk to erase a bit of its fishy taste and softened it up. The corn pudding reminded me that I was still in America and the meal was on the delicious and richer side for a fish course.

Caramelized diver scallops

My second favourite must-have  starter or main are the Caramelized diver scallops served with cauliflower, capers, almonds and golden raisins. Oh-la-la these scallops are something! It is one of these dishes that you would go for on a death-bed if you had to choose something from the sea. The sumptuous yet delicate texture of the scallops was highlighted by their crisp caramelized crowns. The chef’s “art de cuisine” confirms his mastery of matching the right ingredients in order to elevate the main feature of a dish – in this case the scallops. Would you ever think of serving scallops with cauliflower, capers and almonds? Unless it was a kitchen incident or these were the only ingredients you had, then maybe. Well done Mr Reddington! For sure these were one of the best scallop dishes I have ever had.

Sonoma duck breast

Exotic meets local in Sonoma duck breast, turnip purée, spinach with stone fruit mostarda jus. The local duck is paired with stone fruit to add the popular sweet touch to the meat. The turnip puree is much more interesting than serving the duck with mashed potatoes and it is not as heavy, so if you decide to taste half of the restaurant’s menu as we did, you can still manage to eat it. A glass of red wine will help you to finish this tasty meal.

Drinks: The wines are so interesting here, especially for those wine lovers seeking something off-the-beaten-path. The wine list is focused on California, but it is very rewarding. Just ask the knowledgeable and passionate sommelier for an advice and he will surely have a number of wines for you to taste. We started with a glass of refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, moved to more mineral and steely Chenin Blanc Lieu Dit from Santa Ynez Valley and finished off with a 2005 bottle of Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville just a stone throw from the restaurant.

Paradigm Cabernet Sauvignon

Opening hours: Lunch: Monday – Saturday: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm; Dinner: Daily: 5.30 pm to 9:30 pm; Sunday Brunch: 11 am to 2.30 pm;

Contact: Tel: +(1) 707 944.222

Address: 6480 Washington Street, Yountville CA 94599, USA


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Upscale steak tartare

Etoille restaurant is a must-go dining spot for a great food and wine lover visiting Napa Valley in California. The idea of wine and food matching has been exploited here to its maximum potential.

Chef: Perry Hoffman, son of the family originally owning the top Napa restaurant French Laundry.

Cuisine: Wine-inspired international

Visit: September 2010

Price: high

Atmosphere: The outside seating in the surroundings of luscious park is much better than the indoor conservative setting. One might feel like a fish in an aquarium overlooking an ocean. Staff is very friendly and informative as it should be in the right Michelin-stared establishment. If you dine outside you can wear anything you would for a wine tasting.

Seafood salad

Food: Creativity and innovation of mostly internationally popular dishes is the driving force of the chef’s cooking. Since the restaurant is located at the winery, the inspiration stems from wine and is directed by the wine’s flavors and suitability to pairing these two together. Everything feels so fresh and not heavy, even the sumptuous steak tartare is lighter when eaten with a glass of wine. Either the sommelier or the suggestion on the menu advices on the most suitable wine going with each dish. Since Domaine Chandon makes excellent sparkling wines I would recommend to start with a lighter dish such as seafood salad to tease your palate with a glass of one of their bubbles. Vegetables are mostly locally sourced as Napa is blessed with perfect climate for farming almost anything. The sea is not far so the seafood and fish are all fresh – no need to worry about food-poisoning. The chef creates original sauces delicious with almost anything he puts them on. His take on burrata with tomatoes was taste-buds-blowing. Sprouts enlivened this usually heavily creamy appetizer and just a slight touch of burrata left some space for a main course.

Burrata with colorful tomatoes

Drinks: One might worry about drinking only bubbles at a Moet Chandon project known mostly for its sparkling wines, but the opposite is true. The company owns many still wine producing wineries such as Newton in Napa so these feature on the list. The selection goes into a much wider stride though, with wines from various producers from all over the world ready for you in the restaurant’s cellar.

Domaine Chandon in Napa

Opening hours and Contact: Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm Thurs-Mon; Dinner: 6pm-9pm Thurs-Mon; Tel: (+1) 888 242 6366 Opt. 2

Address: 1 California Drive, Yountville, CA 94599, USA

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