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Napa-4 days no kids! suggestions on my ideas?

We have been to Napa several times and have tried the following:
Tre Vigne-good, beautiful setting
Press-Loved, lamb pate (yum)
Mustards-good lunch spot
martini House-good
Julia's Kitchen-not good

I'm thinking of trying
Redd-read great reviews
Ad Hoc-will not be in town on a Monday or Wednesday for fried chicken, should we do dinner or Sunday brunch (heard they do the chicken & waffles)
Bistro Don Giovani
Taylors refresher-Lunch, although it seems strangely similar to Joe's Farm Grill in Gilbert, AZ (you should check out both menus) Love Joe's
Need a great spot to grab food for picnic-have done Vi Sattui in the past but that was off season (no crowds)
Breakfast (pastries at Bouchon or i remember a great bakery down the street from Bouchon in Yountville-can't remember the name but it is down the street from our hotel-Villagio and they made the best pastries)
Cindy's backstreet Kitchen
Oxbow market-what suggestions in the market and is their a good place to picnic there?
thanks you for all your suggestions

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  1. ***beating dead horse***


    ***/beating dead horse***

    1. Have you tried Redd? Good - along with Ad Hoc.
      There's a vietnamese restaurant downtown Napa forgetting the name
      Pasta Prego - great italian and a local favorite, however, its in a strip mall off jefferson so not your typical napa valley great setting.
      Christopher Kostow is the new chef at Meadowood - so I'd try that. He came from a 2 m-star restaurant in Mountain View called Chej Tj and he's fabulous!!
      Uva is also great downtown napa.
      Try model bakery in downtown st. helena for breakfast pastires, coffee, etc.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ashea

        Annalien is the Vietnamese restaurant -- same block as Ubuntu, Celadon, Zazu, and Cole's.

        1. re: Carrie 218

          Just a minor correction on location:

          Celadon is near 5th Street and Main, in the refurbished Hatt Building.
          Two blocks north of that, also on Main, is Zazu, near 3rd St. (I don't recommend it.)
          Beginning at Main and 1st, are, in order, going north:
          Bounty Hunter, slight jog east on 1st Street (beer-can chicken, very good wines by the glass)
          Cole's Chop House (owned by Greg Cole, same owner as Celadon) -- steaks
          Ubuntu -- wonderful developed food flavors, happens to be vegetarian
          Annalien -- Vietnamese
          Then in the next block, at the corner of Main and Clinton:
          Azzurro Pizzeria -- thin crust, good flavors.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Thanks, Maria -- Angele is still along that whole stretch-o-eats as well, right? Lamenting the loss of Pilar, though...

        2. re: ashea

          We got our picnic lunch, sandwiches, vegetable salads, pastries...from Model Bakery, and they were delicious. I highly recommend Pride Mountain Vineyard for wine tasting and picnic. Super friendly people. The picnic area near the "old stone winery" is really serene and beautiful....and quite romantic because you'll most likely be the only people there.

          1. re: ashea

            Do not go to Pasta Prego. Fast food italian!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          2. Taylor's Refresher on Hwy 29 serves very tasty burgers but what's even greater is their wine list which consists of many half-bottle hard-to-find boutique wines.

            Ubuntu is a must try. Don't think you could find a place like this in AZ.

            4 Replies
            1. re: fdb

              thanks for the suggestions, I'm always looking for a new place for a picnic in napa, we have never been in the summer only in December, so not looking forward to the crowds. Would you recommend Ad hoc for dinner or Sunday Brunch? I will definitely do Redd and Ubuntu and probably taylors to compare to the place in AZ
              And Del Dotto for cave tour (my favorite)

              1. re: travelchow

                I should mention that you need to call Pride Mountain to make a reservation for tasting or using picnic facility. They are very accommodating though. It's a bit of a drive (about 15 - 20 minutes) on the winding Spring Mountain Rd but a nice and scenic drive.

                Sorry I can't help you with Sunday brunch at Ad Hoc as I've only been once on a Monday night.

                Del Dotto tour is great!

                1. re: fdb

                  Do you need to bring a picnic to Pride Mountain or do they have food/market there? Also where would you grab a picnic from if you need to? Any other recs? for wine tours/tastings?
                  We have Redd and Ubuntu reserved still thinking about Ad Hoc as my Husband is not always the most adventurous eater so the set menu doesn't always work. Considering Bistro Don Giovanni for after our Del Dotto tour. Thanks for all the help!

                  1. re: travelchow

                    You need to bring your own food to Pride Mountain. There is wine tasting there but no food for sale. It's way up in the mountains so you need to purchase your food in town before getting on Moutnain Spring Road. We got our picnic items from Model Bakery in St. Helena that we really enjoyed. (See my post above) They have two picnic areas, and we went to the one with the old stone building. Wine tasting was only $5 for maybe 4 or 5 wines. They even comped our tasting fee (4 people) when we made a purchase.

                    We did a tasting at Opus One. It's expensive ($30 for only one glass) but it's Opus One. And this is the only place you can buy Overture, their limited production and relatively inexpensive little brother to Opus One. We didn't do the tour because reservation was needed and we didn't have one.

                    We also liked Chateau Montelena in Calistoga. In the back (or front, depending on which way you look) they have a beautiful lake, Jade Lake, with swan and ducks, and an oriental bridge/pavillion. I see people picnic across the lake by the vineyard. No reservation needed for tasting ($15 for 4-5 wines). May have to call for tours.

                    If you love modern art and beautiful scenery, you should definitely go to Artesa. They have tables out on the patio with the most amazing view of Carneros area. $15 for 5-6 wines, no reservation needed.

                    Ad Hoc's chicken was good but we didn't like the dessert. What I'll do next time is to go to Bistro Jeanty and order a bowl of their famous tomato soup with puff pasty at the bar which is easier to do if you don't have reservation. Then walk over to Ad Hoc and have their salad/entree (daily menu is posted outside) at the bar, too. Followed by dessert back at Bistro Jeanty (amazing tarte tartine), or Bouchon.

                    Have a good time sans kids!

            2. Do NOT miss going in to the Wine Merchant at Oxbow public market. take a seat at the bar, have some wine or beer, talk to the folks who run things.Share a charcuterie from the Fatted calf, (it's on their menu) Relax, look into each other's eyes , enjoy your time as adults! Remember what you loved about the other person! Flirt! Go over to Copia next door, have fun with all the gadgets and high tech wine knowledge. Stroll the gardens- HOLD HANDS!!!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jan Coello

                I love it! I also love public markets, kitchen stores etc. Have enjoyed the Ferry building every year we've gone. Any other great stops at the Oxbow Public market?

                1. re: travelchow

                  Oxbow has received some praise on this board but...

                  During my few visits to Oxbow Market, I've often thought of the fairy tale where the little boy says, "But the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes."

                  The market just hasn't come together yet. And the feel of the market is strange:
                  hollow and sterile.

                  If you've been to the nation's great public markets, e.g. Pike's in Seattle, Madison, Wisconsin's; Portland's, SF's Ferry Building, you may be sorely disappointed. I'm sorry. I'd like to give a better report.

                  Perhaps the market will improve when produce season begins in May, and there will be farmers selling their foodstuffs. You might also visit the frequent open air farmers' markets all through the valley. Info online.

                  As to your resto ideas, I've copied them here and made responses:
                  Redd--great food, oddly noisy interior.
                  Ad Hoc-- check it out, good prix fixe.
                  Bistro Don Giovanni -- have never had a bad meal here. Been 30+ times. Great apps. Lovely interior.
                  Taylors Refresher-- Roll on by and see if it appeals. I like the ahi burger a lot.
                  Mustards -- off its game now
                  Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen -- great food, good reports recently on this board.
                  I'm in love with the duck burger with the shiitake catsup. Do a search and read the recent good reports.. Actually, LOTS of recent reports on all these restos if you wish to search further. (Recommended)
                  Terra is still tops. Glad that you loved it. It's my favorite.
                  Martini House excellent. Wonderful patio too.
                  Tra Vigne is terribly inconsistent, and overpriced for what you get. Nice setting, though. Probably the best looking bar in all of Napa Valley. Just grab a drink there, maybe an app. Take a pass on dinner. Much better food for the money elsewhere.

                  >>>>>Need a great spot to grab food for picnic-have done Vi Sattui in the past but that was off season (no crowds)<<<< -- Oh you mean, V-Patoooey! Horrible wine, mediocre deli, crowded, right on the highway. Quadruple yuck.

                  Get your picnic fixin’s at Sunshine Market in St. Helena. It's the best, IMO. Call the day before and order, unless you like waiting interminably in line on a weekend morning or afternoon. Great hot foods, wonderful deli salads and sandwiches, breads and baked goods from Bay Area bakeries, phenomenal cheese department, good selection of cold drinks. High-quality. Nice owners. Good website.

                  More recs above in response to Carrie 218.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    We were at Oxbow this past weekend, and I agree with everything maria lorraine has said. It felt dead and sterile. The atmosphere was not at all conducive to eating or exploring, so we walked away from what I know are quality vendors. I, too, hope that it starts to feel better as more stalls open up.

              2. I'd get lunch at Rotisario:


                and yes, the back deck would make a lovely spot for a picnic....I'd choose that over Taylor's Refresher in a heartbeat....

                1 Reply
                1. re: susancinsf

                  the pictures look great! I can't wait. Any other great suggestions, I'm looking for my last dinner reservation and have not amde a decision yet?

                2. REDD, REDD, REDD, REDD, REDD!
                  yeah, that's how much i love this place.

                  Ad Hoc was good, haven't been for lunch, but dinner was fab and i think any menu of theirs is great.
                  Ubuntu-been twice. first time lunch was great, last week took my folks for dinner and it was subpar. i could've cooked most of it myself, and the service was very off.

                  pick up bouchon pastries over model bakery, sorry to tout the big guy, but his are better.
                  you can get great picnic grubb at the wine merchant in oxbow, as well as some to-go stuff from pica-pica, and the fatted calf

                  oh, see if you can get a tour at Schramsberg with a guy named, Art. He was awesome. great sparkling wine and cave tour

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Doodleboomer

                    Another place to consider at Oxbow is Rotisario which has excellent rotisserie chicken. There have been favorable reports about their porchetta sandwich when it is available. If Fatted Calf has their warm porchetta-style pork roast that would make and excellent picnic item.

                  2. I would picnic at Bennett Lane in Calistoga. No crowds, beautiful views of the palisades. Cindy's is good. Cook in St. Helena is a great little Italian spot--hip, not overly priced. Taylors is a must. The restaurant at Meadowood is top notch, if you want a multicourse dinner.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: soavegirl

                      Have you dined at Meadowood since the new chef has arrived, after Feb. 1st? Does it have the same glory as the previous chef? I'm wondering...Very expensive. Here's my report from last November:

                      Big fan of Bennett Lane, the wines especially, and the setting. A little farther north than most people venture, a couple of miles north of Calistoga.

                      Not a big fan of the postage-stamp-sized Cook, however. Crowded, claustrophobic-feeling (don't ever feel this way otherwise). Gloppy food.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        I was at Bennett Lane for the first time in February and the tasting room felt cramped, cluttered and disorganized. The staff was very distracted, discussing operational and personal issues that are best not mentioned in front of guests. Then a small bus tour showed up with a load of people who's tour guide had failed to explain how tastings work. I felt like the wines were average at best but bought some of Maximus Red to take home, thinking it might taste better in another setting. We opened a bottle about a month later and it was still disappointing. I'll hang onto that second bottle to see if it improves with time. Granted, being a Napa Valley wine industry veteran probably makes me more critical than many, but I'm not in any hurry to return to Bennett Lane.

                        1. re: Ruby Louise

                          Ruby Louise,

                          Boy oh boy. I'm sorry to hear that happened. Wine industry pro here also.
                          The tasting room is small, though it is rarely filled during the week. Weekends perhaps, but the winery location is near the very north of the valley, so not so many visitors trek up that far.

                          I've been a fan of the Red Maximus, enjoying the proprietary red blend
                          over about 4 vintages. I preferred the Cab-Syrah blends of the past more than the last two vintage blends, which do not use Syrah, IIRC.

                          The White Maximus is similar to Conundrum, lovely, refreshing, aromatic.
                          The Chardonnay is very ripe, with Dole canned pineapple fruit, vanilla (oak),
                          and a brown sugar/butterscotch finish (ML, oak). Not my type of Chard, but with certain dishes, I can see how it would pair well.

                          Have always loved the Cab, and what they used to call Primus, their Reserve Cab.

                          I don't know if scores mean anything to you, but they had five wines that scored 90 or above in Wine Spectator last year, and 2 Cabs in Top 100 Cab issue.

                          As far as the staff discussing issues best not mentioned in front of guests,
                          this is unacceptable. It puts the guest in an uncomfortable position. I'm sorry
                          you experienced that. Sounds like the staff was unaware of the impact of their conversation on guests.

                          I've been to the winery many times. I've enjoyed the wines, the staff,
                          the picnic table under the arbor with that great view of the Vaca palisades.
                          I'm sorry to hear your experience did not match mine. Perhaps a re-visit on my part is in order to see if things have changed. Haven't been there since last fall. Best, M.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            If you're going to the Napa area this weekend check-out Ceja Vineyards, it's April in Carneros and they have the most amazing wine and DECADENT CHOCOLATE! The last Carneros weekend in Nov. they had a chocolatier called Truffle Gateau and they're coming to the winery again this weekend!! They sample their Belgian chocolate truffles, oh my gosh, best chocolate truffles in the world! Like a truffle, sorta like a brownie, check them out!!

                    2. If you are looking for a place to pick up picnic food I would reccomend stopping in at the Oakville Grocery. It is a small (the size of a convenience store) old timey grocery with delicious gourmet picnic food and wine of course!

                      Also, for the most breath taking view of the valley Auberge Du Sole' AT SUNSET is not to be missed. It is fine dining but even if you don't stay for dinner at least stop in for cocktails before hand and request to sit on the patio. The sun will set on the restaurant and shine down to light up the valley below. It was wonderful!

                      I also liked the French Laundry but you will need reservations months in advance. It is french obviously so if you like french food you will love it but you must be hungry because it was 15 courses or something and the menu is set.

                      Tre Vigne- Great Gnocchi
                      Mustards- Great everything + they carry Cloudy Bay and not every place does

                      Chateau Montelena- fabulous
                      Schramsberg- fabulous sparkling wine
                      Opus- interesting tour but the wine you taste is over rated and it is not included in the tour price. You can buy a glass at the end.
                      Frogs Leap- Wine is good for the price, nicest staff, and the most fun tour in the valley. They keep you in stitches the whole time.

                      Have fun!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Tbird1980

                        Opus One's tour costs $35 which DOES include a tasting at the end. Tasting itself without tour costs $30.

                        1. re: fdb

                          When I went last April I had a sip in the wine room by the striped barrels of their "newest," which I found disappointing. (The wine, not the amount) And then I had to buy a glass at a little table in the hall outside. The building was the most interesting thing about it to me but that is just my opinion. I thought Far Niente was more fun because you are given 5 delicious wines to taste and lovely cheese pairings. What can I say I love a good cheese. It was a bit more expensive at $50 a head but who really cares when you are drunk and on vacation! :) + if you are a member at any of these places it is free.

                          1. re: Tbird1980

                            Good to know about the Opus tour, thanks! Only a sip, huh? I like Far Niente cab and Dolce. Will have to do it next time.

                            1. re: fdb

                              I have only done the Schramsberg tour and the Del Dotto tour (Del Dotto numerous times) I obviously enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere based on my previous tours. It sound slike I may need to try Frogs Leap, Any other recs?

                              1. re: fdb

                                Well, I guess it depends on what your idea of a sip is. More than communion. :) I probably would have been happier if they had sprung for an older vintage at least.

                        2. REDD nuff said

                          -don't get the Halibut if you love fish..not bad but pales in comparison to the other dishes..

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: claudiaOssa

                            Okay, the last dinner I need to plan. I think I am between Bistro Don Giovanni and Martini House. Any rec.'s?
                            I have reservations at Ubuntu, Redd and Pride Mountain so far.

                            1. re: travelchow

                              More laid back or more high-end? BDG for laid-back, comfortable and great Italian vs. haute cuisine, more expensive and adventurous Martini House.

                              Apples and Oranges.