Favorite Calistoga restaurants
Reading through many restaurant reviews for Napa lately, I can't help but notice all the differing opinions.
My husband and I went to Brannan's Grill in downtown Calistoga for lunch last week and we thoroughly enjoyed it. As we entered the restaurant, we got the impression that it was an elegant hunting lodge due to the handcrafted stone fireplace with a large stag mounted above. A huge 19th century handcrafted bar, tall ceilings with redwood beams, and skylights all give a spacious atmosphere. The main dining room has large murals of historic Napa Valley.
The calamari appetizer was light and crispy. My husband had the "hangar steak", which tasted like tri-tip.($20) It was very flavorful. It came with a tasty twice baked potatoe and fresh veggies. I had the Breast chicken picatta salad ($14), which was a pan fried chicken breast covered with lemon caper sauce with a fresh green salad on the side. The chicken was lightly flavored and crisp. The desserts were fantastic. I had Triple Chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. It was light and chocolately without being overpowering. My husband's creme brulee was a generous portion...very vanilla in flavor and topped with strawberries. All desserts were $8.
The food and atmosphere were top notch. The service was a little slow, but we would definitely eat at Brannan's Grill again.
Of the 3, personally I prefer Wappo. I just find the food more interesting there, with a different palette of flavors (pulled from India and South America) than most other restaurants. I will say that on 2 visits the service (and the host) were so deplorable that we (each) wrote letters to the owners. We were sent honest apologies along with a certificate for a comp'd meal but I'm sad to see that host is still there (and unrepentent).
I've found on several different occasions that the food at Brannan's to be very uneven. It kind of feels (I have no idea if it's actually what happens) like some restaurant consultant comes up with the menu and then tells the kitchen to make it. Sometimes they do and sometimes they can't.
I love the Calistoga Inn when I'm in the mood for a beer, a burger and some live music but that mood doesn't come with very often when I'm in Calistoga.
Some other considerations:
Catahoula (in the Mount View Hotel)--I'm sure there are many reviews on the Board.
There's a "new" restaurant next to the hardware store where Cin Cin used to be. I haven't been myself but I've heard some good things about it from some friends who have been. It's meat-and-potatoes, if I remember correctly.
Cafe for All Seasons--to me the menu seems a little dated (kind of early '90's Napa cuisine) but they have a great wine selection.
Have a fun trip.