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Mar 31, 2008 12:01 PM

03/08 I'm A Cindy Groupie but We won't return to Mustard's? Oh nooo, Mr. Bill....

When we began our 3 day napa sojourn here the other day, we vaguely remembered being disappointed 2 yrs. ago, and when we left after lunch, we decided that we won't be returning to mustards. Why? Well it's certainly not because of the light, brightly colored, inviting room, or the friendly knowledgeable service, or the wonderful and often very funny artwork. And it's not because of the killer onion ring strings. It might be because of the deafening roar, but it's the roar of very happy people, so who's to complain?

It is because of the rest of the food. It's just off the mark. The entree special -risotto w/ wild mushrooms and scallops- was tasty but overcooked, undersalted and underparm'd. my quail w/ potatoes and leeks and sherry sauce- was soooo greasy; the potatoes were drowning in the same greasy sauce and the leeks were a huge pile and the color of all that white/ light green was unappealing and boring in flavor.the quail itself was succulent/perfectly cooked but undistinguished; the spice rub didn't come through much.
all the salads were just greens- no other components except some nuts. no other vegetables? boring. So what if your garden isn't producing these other possible components?

And, get this. "Local potatoes' starch content is not conducive to good french fries now, so Mustard's and Cindy's Backsytreet Kitchen both serve FROZEN french fries. FROZEN!!!!!! Mustards won't serve cucumbers, sunchokes, fennel etc etc etc etc in their salads because they're not growing in THEIR garden now but they'll serve FROZEN french fries?????? hmmmmm. Time to do some refiguring here. In the meantime, we will happily drive another 1/2 hr. north for the consistently wonderful experience at Cindy's in St. Helena(but we still won't be eating those lousy french fries.)

here's my report on Cindy's:


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  1. Frozen's not always a bad thing. Thomas Keller also uses frozen potatoes for the fries at Bouchon:

    8 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      robert, those fries are dreadful. i can only laugh at anyone who tries to justify using them. talk about a joke......

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        I think you're thinking of a different product. Bouchon's not getting your average Sysco product.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          how do you know cindy is getting your average sysco product? sorry but i don't care WHO produces frozen french fries, or frozen onion rings for that matter. the nature of potatoes and onions does NOT make for a quality , or even acceptable, experience when they are frozen.

          but robert, do you really not see the laughable irony in this practice by these particular chefs in their particular locale?

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            It sounds ironic, but if you read the linked topic, it's one of the rare exceptions to the rule that frozen means lower quality than fresh.

            I agree that it's funny, like Babbo using frozen pasta.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              robert, i don't care WHO says frozen potatoes taste good. they are wrong. end of conversation. they just shouldn't be serving them if they can't serve fresh. Very unusually for me, I am rather fascist in my attitude on this topic.

              BTW, i do not feel this way about all products, but i definitely do feel this way about frozen potatoes and onions. Frozen pasta is another thing entirely. There is a local fresh pasta shop , Bella Ravioli in Medford Ma., that I have patronised for years. They do not use an extrusion pasta machine (extruded pasta is much denser than rolled pasta) and their flat sheet pasta(linguine, etc.) is soft as silk, fresh OR frozen.

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        bouchon fries are horrible and a dissapointment to all bistros across the country

        1. re: Cookanddog

          Previous reports here have been mostly favorable, even when people were overall disappointed with their meals:

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            The fries are no more because Bouchon has no fryer at the moment...
            ever since the fire, I believe. But I've had them for years with the Moules Frites and loved them.

      3. Opinionatedchef.....hmmm - appropriate handle. After reading your Ubuntu post, I'd appreciate a review of a place you actually like. That would be valuable for comparison purposes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rfneid

          Opinionedchef has written a substantial number of reviews of her CA dining experiences, do a search of the CA board for her great reviews outside of the SF bay region.