Angele (Napa) Report
(DJ Hombre is the handle of a friend of mine on another board...)
DJ Hombre and I had dinner here last week.
The cost of apps is $8-$16
Main courses $22-$30
Desserts $8 with a $14 cheese plate
Wine list is very good, with some wines very well priced (we got a split of '05 Vieux Telegraphe for $60) and others less well priced. Corkage is $20/bottle but they will waive 1 corkage for every wine you order off the list. We ordered the VT and a split of 2006 Dr. Loosen Urzigur Wurtzgarten Spatlese ($40) and they comped the corkage on my 2000 Scarzello Barolo.
DJ started with the onion soup that smelled delicious. I had the asian pear salad. My salad was DRENCHED in the vinegrette -- I almost sent it back. The flavors worked really well together and I could see what they were going for, but just about 5 times too much dressing. We also split the stuffed quail appetizer which was awesome. (Best dish of the night, really a star, imo.)
DJ had the chicken which looked good while I had the lamb shank for my main course. The lamb shank was very good and the flavors all worked together, but the proportions, again, weren't exactly correct. Too much feta was melted into the tuscan white bean base, and not enough red wine was used to braise the lamb shank, (especially in light of the amount of cheese in the beans -- there wasn't enough acidity in the rest of the dish to cut through all the chese).
We split a very good, but rather standard-issue, roasted brussl sprouts with bacon side dish.
The cheese plate was very well presented with 1 good cheese, 2 great cheeses, and 1 specatcular cheese -- basically a French version of Humboldt Fog.
I guess Napa goes to bed early on Sundays because we left at around 10:30, maybe a bit earlier, and we were the last people in the restaurant. (Whereas I've been in Zazu in the Russian River and Market in St. Helena much later than 10:30 on a Sunday and didn't close out the restaurant.)
We went on a Sunday night and I bet the executive chef had the night off. I could see where they were going with both my appetizer and main course, but the execution wasn't what it should have been. The ambience was very relaxed but elegant and the service was excellent -- helpful, frindly, professional. I would go back if I thought I was going on a night that the real chef would be in the kitchen, but I'm not running back. Also, I thought the restaurant was a couple of dollars more than it should have been, but maybe that is just because the dishes weren't executed perfectly. (And, to be fair, the wine list and corkage policy are a real plus.)
It was recently reported in the SFChron that chef Trip Maudlin was moving to Fringale in the City. Surely the owner will hire a great repalcement!
Sounds similar to my previous experiences. I've dined there four or five times (usually because of business meetings) and always been disappointed. It is a restaurant I have never been able to recommend to folks other than for a great view of the river.