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Feb 20, 2008 07:20 AM

Wine Country Dinner with Meat and Potatoes Mom

My mother is coming to visit in April and I'm making plans for our two nights of dining.

By way of background, my mother is very much a meat, potatoes, side of veg (probably steamed broccoli) gal from a blue collar town in New England, and her tastes are pretty straightforward. She thinks raw fish is gross.

The first night I made reservations at Ubuntu. I've been curious about it for a while and read reviews that even meat-eaters love it, but this not a sure bet, so on the second night I'd like to select a restaurant that's more certain to please her, but hopefully has interesting stuff on the menu for my wider-ranging palate.

We went to, and liked, The Girl and the Fig during a previous trip. This time we'll be in a bit of a different direction: staying in Healdsburg, probably visiting Round Pond for the olive oil tour and surrounding wineries in Oakville, Rutherford, St Helena.

So where can I make a reservation Saturday night in that area? Price is not important--if something at a Cyrus-level price point were the right answer, I'd be willing to swing it. Girl and the Fig type atmosphere and prices would be comfortable, too.


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  1. About 40 steps from Ubuntu is Cole's Chop House - the best steakhouse in wine country. Your palate will be happier with many of the side dishes which are pretty interesting and varied.

    1. I love Ubuntu, but it sound's like your mother will not. I would seriously suggest that you stop by In-and-Out Burgers so she can fill up on a double double and fries before you go. That way her meat and potato needs will be met and she won't stress over chilled baby vegetable soups - meaning what kind of place is this? And you can enjoy chilled baby vegetable soups which are terrific.
      Bouchon and Bistro Jeanty both have tasty Steak-Frites as well as other nice French dishes in Yountville. Bouchon has a great raw bar. In Healdsburg, I always enjoy Bistro Ralph and he makes great shoe-string fries too. And table-side shaken martinis, not to mention a wine list of wine only from Healdsburg, so he is huge on terroir.
      I would say most places in the wine country have items on the menu for less-adventurous dinners
      (Again $5 at In-and-Out, my favorite fast food chain, is not a joke.)
      Have fun and enjoy time w/your mother!

      1. Market in St Helena might please both you and your mom. They call themselves an "American restaurant," but they offer more than just meat and potatoes -- though they do have that. Pleasant, too, though maybe not as fancy as you have in mind.

        1. Starks! Starks! Starks!

          Can I entice NOONE to go to this new Steakhouse by the owners of Willie's Wine Bar.

          I just haven't been able to get up that way yet. Look past the appetizer section which might please you more than your mom. For her there's stuff like
          Iceberg with the Usual Suspects
          The Required “Caesar”
          Steak Fries
          Steaks are local and globally sourced with choices of cornfed or grass fed.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            What does "local and globally sourced" mean?

            1. re: ccbweb

              I think she means that have Northern California beef... as well as beef important from the world's reknown producers in New Zealand, Argentina etc.,

              1. re: ccbweb

                Per the menu, their steaks come from Brandt Beef (600+ miles from Santa Rosa), Snake River Farms (Idaho), and Estancia (Uruguay). Great beef but not local.

                They do have lamb and veal T-bones from Sonoma Direct.

            2. As Madge mentioned, Jeanty and Bouchon both have very traditional and straight-forward steak frites dishes and as far as a meat and potatoes kind of craving goes, I think it's almost impossible to beat that combination. I'm sure in a pinch either place would substitute pureed potatoes for the fries if that wasn't to your mom's liking . . . although what's not to like about a huge pile of delicious french fries? For the more adventurous diners, all of the classic bistro dishes will be on the menu as well so you don't have to stick with steakhouse fare if you don't want to.

              R. Jason Coulston

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jason_Coulston

                If you're considering Bouchon, I'd go to Ad Hoc. It's reasonable given what you get. It's also relaxed. It is sort of in the other direction however. The menu is semi-regular and very meat and potatoes (in a good way). Fried chicken, short ribs, tri-tip, lobster, etc. You can check the day before.

                1. re: ML8000

                  In Healdsburg, try ZIN - menu is posted outside - you can see what's available - have taken my parents there many times - A okay.
                  Also give Bovolo a try for lunch - had the best turkey meatball sandwhich ever.