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Going to Napa

I am going to SF and Napa at the end of the year; has anyone been to Go Fish, Martini House, Celadon, Redd in Napa Area?
How about good Sushi restaurants [hole in the walls are good!] in SF - Nob Hill, Union Square areas. Thanks!

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  1. I am a Napa local, and have been to all of those places. The great thing about wine country is that even the mediocre places are still pretty good...

    1) Go Fish - Go Somewhere Else. I LOVE Cindy Pawlcyn's other ventures, Mustard's Grill and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen - they are the restaurants I have visited more than any others in Napa. But Go Fish is really uninspired - it's kind of like a classier Red Lobster. The sushi we had was overpriced and sub-par, and the decor and ambiance leave a lot to be desired. I was really disappointed.

    2) Martini House is fantastic. They do the wine-country-cuisine thing right - the food is fresh, robust, and compliments wine beautifully. The atmosphere is great too. I would get a reservation now. This is the best restaurant on your list.

    3) Celadon is pretty good, but not fantastic. It's a solid go-to place for us on a Saturday night, but if we're looking for something special, we go elsewhere. The food can be a little uneven - I've had great dishes (a seafood pasta) and terrible ones (their fried calamari with soy glaze is really yucky). They do have a fun cocktail list, though, and they are right in downtown Napa, if you are staying there.

    4) Redd is probably the most "urban" feeling place in Napa Valley. The crowd is hip, the food is beautiful and tasty, the cocktails are cold and the music is hot. It feels a little scene-y, but I like it. We had a great fish dish there - very light and well flavored.

    I've got a few other recs for your list:
    Bouchon - Thomas Keller's French Bistro - it's never disappointed, and it's certainly cheaper than the French Laundry!
    NV - off the beaten path, in downtown Napa - they do a great job with fish and their appetizers are really pretty and elegant.
    Mustard's or Cindy's are both phenomenal. Mustards has the most amazing, hearty meat and fish, with a few Mexican influenced dishes - the pork chop is to die for, and I don't even like pork, generally. Cindy's is more of the same, but a little more Mexican/Spanish. The spice rubbed quail and mushroom tomales haunt my dreams!

    As I say, you really can't lose. I'd love to hear where you end up going! :-)

    11 Replies
    1. re: megamalone

      Thanks for the replies Megamalone! So far we are going Tra Vigne for sure [went there last year] and we may try La Toque since we are staying at Rancho Caymus Inn. I think I will cancel my reserv at Go Fish and go for Bouchon, Martini's or NV. I will keep you posted!
      P.S. What are your favorite wineries? We liked Plumpjack, Cakebread, Clos Pegase and Artesa.

      1. re: anichols

        I think you'll have a great trip staying at Rancho Caymus and eating at La Toque. I've heard nothing but good things about the food there.
        I love all of your favorite wineries - you might want to see if you can get an appointment at Nickel and Nickel winery in Rutherford. It's $25 per person, but that includes a REAllY memorable tour and a tasting of at least five or six EXCELLENT wines. It's our favorite place to tour when we have guests in town.

        1. re: megamalone

          I will check on Nickel and Nickel. That's my last name even though I don't spell it that way.
          Also, I got reservations at Martini House and Bouchon so will let you know how they turn out.
          Thanks!

      2. re: megamalone

        My boss just told me about Martini House (we're going to Napa at end of this month) - is it a "frou frou" place? my bf doesn't want super fancy places. :)

        1. re: katg

          There's nothing "frou-frou" about Martini House. Sit downstairs around the big fireplace, it's great and certainly not "super fancy."

          We've had some great meals at La Toque but if ou have a budget it may not be the place to go. Love Rancho Caymus, have stayed there many times.

          If you like raw oysters, Bouchon is the place, they have a great raw bar. And, their pomme frites are some of the best around. We also like Bistro Jeanry for lunch, especially the fried smelts, the frissee salad with poached egg and the petit salee with lentils. Sit at the bar and talk to Kate or Bob, great bartenders.

          Have a wonderful time. Be glad to supply some winery recommendations if you like as we go there probably 1-2 times a month.

        2. re: megamalone

          I'm so glad to hear someone else feels as I do about the Mustard's pork chop. I don't particularly care for pork and only order it one place - Mustard's. It is to die for. Unfortunately for me, I love it so much that it is all I ever eat there - every time I try to switch, it cries out to me. Until my friends moved to Palm Springs, we had Christmas Eve lunch there - with a bottle of Silver Oak cab...ah, what a holiday!

          1. re: dinnerout

            Yeah, Mustard's is one of those places that is great for tourists AND locals - I never get sick of eating there!

          2. re: megamalone

            Hello mm, I am so glad that you wrote this. I travel about an 1 1/2 hrs to Napa for special little day or weekend trips a few times a year with my husband. Since we always eat at the same place, Don Giovani's or one of the wineries, I really value your input!
            I am curious what your opinion is of Bistro Don Giovanni's though? I was less enchanted my last visit -almost a year now, and was hoping it was the due to the way the planets were aligned. The waiter we had was just crude and awful. But the meal was still good, however we noticed the portion were smaller than I remembered. Do you have any recent in put? fodor's has both good and bad to report and not recent.

            1. re: chef chicklet

              My pleasure - I love reporting on wine country restaurants! I agree with your assessment of the service at Don Giovanni's. The last time we ate there, there was a table full of young guys who knew the server - they were getting all the attention while the rest of us had to practically light a fire to catch the server's eye. The food is usually quite good, but I think that the fact that it's such a popular destination for tourists means that they can get away with subpar service. I've heard that they are the highest-grossing restaurant in the valley - they do such a huge volume of business. I do love their carbonara though, and Don Giovanni's will always hold a special place in my heart because it's the restaurant we visited on our first trip to Napa.

            2. re: megamalone

              megamalone, how do you feel about bistro don giovanni?

              1. re: katg

                bistro don giovanni is the same as Don Giovanni's - see my review above. :-)

            3. Is Press still around?

              I know it didn't get good "press" but we had an outstanding meal there in the beginning.

              Also, what's gone into the Pinot Blanc spot. Any good?

              2 Replies
              1. re: MSK

                Go Fish is now in the building where Pinot Blanc was - see my review above.

                1. re: megamalone

                  Megamalone, hi, I'm a bit late in responding but at least I am responding. I am the one who started the "Going to Napa" way back in December. We spent 4 days in Napa at Rancho Caymus [highly recommend it]; ate at La Toque at Rancho Caymus and it was wonderful. I don't think I need to go to French Laundry now. Splurge and get the wine pairings with it. The staff was superb and the food most excellent. We went to Martini House, Tra Vigne, Bouchon, Brix, and Go Fish. Out of all those, Go Fish was the last on the list. I know you did not really recommend it, but it was sushi so we had to check it out. Go Fish can Go Fishing. Other than that place, the food was great. As far as wineries, Peju took 1st Place. If you like Port wine, check out Prager Port Winery. Neat ecclectic place with the family right there to greet you. Artesa is very comtemporary and the wine is pretty good. The place looks like Frank Lloyd Wright meets a war bunker. I think he would approve. St. Supery was also very good. We did the sensory testing at Cakebread and that was very informative. The wine there is always good. I'd pass on Hall, Flora Springs was pretty good. Right now I can't remember everywhere we went but since we have been home, I have applied for UC Davis and I am now in the long distance classes for viticulure and enology. I have also dug up part of my backyard and will have 20 vines planted in two weeks. If you have never used an auger to drill holes, make sure you have a guy with you. Good God. It will tear your arms off. Will keep you posted. I plan to leave my job here in San Antonio, buy some land in the Hill Country, make the best Texas wine [right now most of them suck] or else head to Napa and buy land there. Haven't decided yet. Larkwood Vineyards. Remember that name. Bye.