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Nov 11, 2007 09:19 PM

Ubuntu for lunch

I took two friends to Ubuntu for lunch today, birthday celebration and a delightful one at that. We arrived at 11:30 am, and they looked like they weren't even fact, the girl who came to talk to us wasn't sure they were, yet! But, they were happy to seat us anywhere we wanted. In the bright light of day it was aboslutely gorgeous, the space is vast and open, the yoga studio is above and behind the kitchen, barely noticeable. The Heath plates are beautiful, the couches and chairs very comfortable, the service was great. It did fill up around 12:30 or so, and by the time we walked away from shopping nearby around 1, it was packed.

We all ordered Blue Botttle Coffee in various forms, and they were perfect caps, or coffees. We were informed that the dishes were all shareable in size and two per person were a good amount. We ended up ordering 6 dishes between the three of us and it was maybe one too many, but a good way to get an idea of the kitchens' talent. We started with star lettuces in a honey red wine vin, and also roasted potatoes and fennel. The salad was light and delicious, with a few pecans crumbled into it, the dressing was delightful, though it was a bit heavy for my taste. The potatoes were cooked perfectly and the fennel shaved on top. It came with a green sauce (possibly parsley). It was a nice dish.

For our mains we had the grits with roasted brussel sprouts and a sweet mustard. The grits were creamy and wonderful, the brussel sprouts the highlight, and the mustard a nice addition. We also ate a pizza with kale and nettles, we asked them if they could add an egg, and they gladly did. This was delicious. The spice was good, the kale and nettle came through, and the pizza was cooked nicely. Not the best pizza, but a nice one, nonetheless. The third dish was roasted veggies with farro. The farro was toasted, which always adds flavor. The veggies (baby carrots, sprouts, parsnips?, and something else) were cooked well, but underseasoned. And the accompanying butternut squash sauce/puree didn't really match, too sweet. The fourth dish was the cauliflower roasted in the wood oven. Served with four thinly sliced toasted baquette slices, and in a Staub miniature dutch oven...there were several colors of cauliflower, cheese and butter...can you get any better?

Oh yeah, the won my heart with Racer 5 IPA on their menu....and it's in a bottle!

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  1. Going this week. Cannot wait!!! Thanks for adding another glowing report.

    1. I hate to sound like the Grinch but we walked out of Ubuntu yesterday at lunch. The space was vast and open but verging on the overly-upscale-precious. I love vegetables and was vegan for a decade but when the server said, "I advise ordering two or three a person because they are tapas-size," I looked at the prices. I don't love vegetables enough to spend $9 for cauliflower or $14 for a small, not-the-best vegetarian pizza. Not for lunch. Not if I have to pay $40-$60 for lunch for two (and potentially up with drinks and tips) that doesn't have a smidgeon of really high-price ingredients and is on bare wood tables.

      To compare, we had dinner at Terra the night before. $95 plus tip, not including drinks. Appetizers: absolutely delicious ribolleto, a large portion we couldn't finish, and panko-crusted fried oysters on crisp pork belly squares in a balsalmic reduction. Main dishes: huge pork chop in a caper sauce with sides of Yukon gold mashed and sweet cabbage with homemade chorizo and Maine lobster tail (fairly small) and scallops (three large) over mashed potatoes in a wine and parsley sauce. All this in a Michelin-awarded restaurant with exquisite service--by our waitress, our bread replenisher and tablecloth sweeper and our water pourer, white tablecloths, excellent bread, a beautiful space, and charming and welcoming hosts. And last night we went to Zuzu for tapas. Had incredible Spanish tortilla (omelet) with potato and fennel, baked pork ribs with onions in balsalmic sauce, paella, Petrale sole. The tab? About $38. We were so grateful for those meals and the charm and graciousness of the service, we left 30% tips both nights.

      It's a free country. Ubuntu can charge what they want. But it was over the top for me.

      (I tried to access the site for the prices to be absolutely sure but it kept crashing my browser. I'm still at the hotel in Napa.)

      5 Replies
      1. re: lintygmom

        i hear you, but you also have to realize that much of what they cook is harvested from their own garden, so you are not only getting local and organic, but handgrown in their valley. it was about $31/pp for the three of us, including coffee and a beer...and I felt rather full afterwards (though without the meaty weighdown, and i eat the meat all the time). i was totally satisfied esp. because we had eaten cheese and bread, and drunk wine all day the day before. But, as they say, to each their own.

        1. re: lintygmom

          My wife & I had dinner @ Ubuntu a few weeks ago, left absolutely stuffed, & the bill came to $68 (without wine). Quite reasonable for the quality of the food, which was superb.

          1. re: rfneid

            yeah, I am kind of surprised by the report about it being expensive. I thought the prices were surprisingly reasonable for what we got. Great cooking, great ingredients, good sized portions, relatively low prices. I was happy.

          2. re: lintygmom

            So you are inferring that the vegetarian pizza is small and not-the-best without ordering one? And don't most individual pizzas from high-end restaurants cost in the $14 range? I think you sold yourself short. Meat is not the only "high-price ingredient" and Ubuntu's prices are well within the range of other haute cuisine restaurants in Napa.

            You missed a great opportunity for a stunning meal.

            1. re: lintygmom

              Funny, prices between Ubuntu and Zuzu are very close...and both small plates places.

            2. Took my sister to lunch here yesterday. Hard to not re-order the Potatoes with Fennel and Cauliflower in a pot.

              My new dish this time was the hickory-smoked grits with brussels sprouts which was very, very good.

              We also finished up with a hot chocolate -- something my sister would usually never order as she is not a huge chocolate fan. She liked the fact that it is not overly sweet but on this occasion, it was a bit too thick to even drink and had to be spooned. I only finished half of it due to its heavy consistency.