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San Francisco/Napa Report

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Fellow Hounds:
I just wanted to say “thanks” for all the information and recommendations you provided for my recent San Francisco/Napa Valley trip. I surprised my wife with a five-night getaway to celebrate her 50th birthday. My only regret was that I didn’t have enough time to sample everything! We’ve been to SF many times, but this short trip was by far our best food experience to date. In the interest of brevity, I’ll provide a list of the places we tried in San Francisco and Napa Valley. All of them were wonderful – with great food and service.

Due to weather backups and cancellations here in the east, our flight to the coast was rescheduled and we wound up arriving at 9:00pm on Thursday evening, March 15 – 8 hours later than we planned, so we lost both lunch and dinner opportunities on Thursday.
We were pretty tired by the time we settled into our hotel (Parc 55 on Cyril Magnin). We settled for some seafood soup at Siam Thai, located in the hotel. They were just about to close, but they let us “take out” some seafood food and chicken satay. Considering that we had just spent 10 hours in transit, they both were quite tasty.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll provide a list of the places we tried during two days in San Francisco and two days in the Napa Valley (we stayed in Calistoga). All of them were wonderful – with great food and service. Because we did not have a car in town, we limited ourselves to places that could be reached by cable or streetcar (although we did take a taxi to Plumpjack’s). Although we splurged on two dinners in town, we tried to stay within a reasonable budget.

San Francisco: Dottie’s True Blue Café (breakfast)…Yank Sing (dim sum lunch)…
Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants (wine flights)…Plumpjack’s Café (dinner)…First Crush (wine flights)…Rose Pistola booth at the Ferry Building (breakfast)…Golden Gate Bakery (egg custard tarts)…Brandy Ho’s (lunch)…Antica Trattoria (dinner).

Napa Valley: Dominic’s Genova Deli (picnic lunch)…Pizzeria Tra Vigne (dinner)…
V. Sattui Winery (picnic lunch)…Woodhouse Chocolates (sweets)…Mustards Grill (dinner).

Wineries: Clos du Val…Regusci…St. Clement…Heitz…Grgich Hills…St. Supery.

Favorite Wines: St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc…St. Clement Bale Lane Sauvignon Blanc…Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc…Miner Family Mendocino Gibson Ranch Sangiovase…Heitz Napa Valley Port.

Places We Wished We Had Time to Try:
San Francisco: Canteen…Woodhouse Fish Company…Ristorante Ideale…Gold Mountain…Hayes Street Grill…Citizen Cake…Swan Oyster Depot…Hog Island Oyster Company… La Taqueria… Bocadillos…Mama’s on Washington Square… Linguira Bakery…XOX Chocolates.

Napa Valley: Bistro Don Giovanni…Zuzu...Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen…Bouchon…Bistro Jeanty…Tra Vigne…Go Fish…Taylor’s Refresher…Redd’s.

Wineries: Bennet Lane…Zahtila…Schramsberg…August Briggs…Opus One.

Your comments on our choices would be welcome. The nicest thing about the Bay Area is that you always have something to look forward to for your next trip!

We’re off to New Orleans on April 28, for a five-day conference, armed with our list of NOLA Chowhound recommendations. I’d be happy to share those experiences when we return. Thanks again to all of you!

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  1. Nice report, glad you had a successful trip.. you covered a lot of ground there. Be sure to put Bar Crudo on your list for next time. You may also want to try Cav Wine Bar, good bar bites and very interesting wines.

    What did you like about Plumpjack's and what did you order? Curious I've been thinking about that place.

    The NOLA Chowhounds are some of the funniest and colorful, hope you get some of that flavor from the replies. .... love it there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lori SF

      Hi Lori,
      Thanks for your comments. Yes, we did cover a lot of ground! San Francisco is certainly a foodie Nirvana! I just wish we had more time to explore all the wonderful culinary choices!

      Cav Wine Bar was on my list, but First Crush was more convenient to our hotel, so we dropped in there for flights. Wish I had taken notes, as they had some wonderful wines.

      Regarding Plumpjack Café: We liked the culinary creativity, the quality and freshness of the ingredients and the wonderful service. We had 6:00PM reservations, but the small place filled up quickly on a Friday evening. We were guests of one of my wife’s business contacts (she’s the client) and his wife, so price wasn’t a consideration. I’m sure dinner, tip and wine for four was close to $400.

      Here’s a rundown of what we had. See the menu of Plumpjack’s website for prep details.
      Salads: Salad of Young Lettuces, Delta Asparagus.
      Entreés: Wild Vegetable Risotto; Monkfish Tail; Lamb Rib-eye; and Japanese Sea Bream.
      Desserts: Pistachio & Olive Oil Grenache; Chocolate Decadence; and Bananas Foster.

      The wine chosen by our host, based on the waiter’s suggestion was a 2003 Landmark Kanzler Vineyard Sonoma Coast ($70). A wonderful wine, but I’m sure it was better with our host’s lamb than my and my wife’s fish selections. I would have opted for something white by the glass, as the offerings looked interesting.

      Overall, it was a memorable meal, but not one of the top ten of my foodie career. I went with an open mind, hoping to try some new and interesting tastes. I was not disappointed by any means.

      Plumpjack is rather small, so be sure to make reservations.

      My wife and I are eagerly looking forward to NOLA! Life is good!
      John