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Short List of Napa Restaurants - Advice/Suggestions, Please.

MMRuth May 13, 2008 06:35 AM

Hello, from the Manhattan board! My husband has a business meeting in Napa in June, and is staying at the Silverado. He's asked me to find a restaurant for him to dine at with a client for dinner on a week night. The suggestions that I've come up with, based on reviewing threads, are:

Auberge du Soleil - maybe too far a drive?
Bistro Jeanty
Ad Hoc

Are the latter two "too casual"? Would appreciate any thoughts on these choices, or if I've overlooked places that I should consider for him. I've read a lot about Ubuntu, but don't think that's for him. I think they'd like to go somewhere that's not too far a drive from Napa proper. I've seen some good reviews of Cole's, but he's not a big fan of steak places. Price isn't a big issue, and he likes pretty much all cuisines.


Edit: He said he'll hire a car/driver for dinner so that he doesn't have to worry about his wine consumption, but probably doesn't want to go more than 20 minute or so away from the Silverado.

  1. MMRuth May 13, 2008 04:17 PM

    Thanks all for your suggestions! Will give my husband a debriefing - don't think he minds a general "buzz" - it's more a social business dinner than an "let's talk business the whole time" business dinner.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth
      maria lorraine May 14, 2008 06:16 PM

      MMRuth...you're coming to my stomping grounds?!

      If staying at Silverado Resort, few places are within 20 minutes. A half-hour is more likely. It's just the layout of the valley -- about 32 miles long and 4 miles wide.

      My thoughts on the suggestions here: Bouchon's table service is less than ideal and the acoustics are particularly troublesome. A few times I have been unable to hear the person speaking at my table, but can easily hear the person sitting near me at another table. The food is French brasserie. Another choice, given your guest, is probably a better choice. Sitting at the bar is wonderful,
      and I love the moules frites, but they no longer have a deep-fat fryer, so no more frites. Good raw bar.

      Bistro Jeanty is small and charming. The food is very French. Unless you dine outside, it feels a bit cramped. Wonderful, if that's what you're into.

      Martini House in St. Helena is excellent, probably a half-hour from the resort.
      Exquisite cuisne, enchanting outdoor patio as well as lovely interior, professional service, very talented chef.

      Also in St. Helena, what I feel is Napa Valley's finest -- Terra. Californian-Asian, with exquisite ingredients and exacting preparatioin. Located in a charming old stone building. Excellent dishes and wine list.

      Meadowood is also in St. Helena. It recently won two Michelin stars, but their chef left and another two-star chef replaced him. I cannot vouch for the cuisine now, but in November, it was exquisite and expensive ($750 for two with wine and tip). Lovely setting.

      Press is in St. Helena. Swanky. Known for steaks and chops, excellent truffled mac n cheese, potatoes cooked in duck fat, spinach, and exquisite resto-baked breads. Wonderful but expensive wine list.

      Redd makes very good food, but the sterile dining environment turns me off. No rugs, no wall coverings make the box-shaped room acoustically bright, and the result is noisy and jarring. Excellent lobster-corn risotto and duck.

      I don't believe any of your initial suggestions -- Auberge du Soleil, Bouchon, Bistro Jeanty and Ad Hoc -- are the best choices for you and your guest. Auberge has a lovely view of the valley, but the food is really only so-so and very expensive for that so-so-ness. Ad Hoc is much too casual.

      You have ruled out Ubuntu -- it is a good spot, but perhaps not appropriate for this dinner. Next to it is Cole's Chop House, an adequate steak house, but nothing terribly special. Very heavy hand with salt, consistently. Pales in comparison to Press.

      In terms of driving and traffic, the Napa Valley is laid out like a ladder -- two long roadways form the sides of the ladder, then various crossroads all along the 30+ miles form the "rungs." Highway 29 is heavily trafficked on weekends, with stoplights, and sometimes quite slow-going. Silverado Trail is less driven, perhaps even lovelier than 29, and no stoplights. You should have no trouble navigating on weekday evening no matter where you go.

      I so appreciate your posts and food knowledge. If I can help further, please feel free to write me at the email address on my profile.

      1. re: maria lorraine
        MMRuth May 15, 2008 01:23 PM

        Thanks so much for all of this information - I'm sorry to not have responded earlier, but have been a bit under the weather. I'll share with my husband and come back if I have any questions. Unfotunately, I'm not coming.

        Thanks again to everyone for taking time to answer - I know you get lots of these kinds of questions.

        1. re: maria lorraine
          MMRuth May 15, 2008 04:04 PM

          My husband just made a reservation at Terra - thanks so much. I'll "try" to get him to report back - but sometimes it's hard to get much out of him other than that a place was great, etc.!

      2. m
        Madge May 13, 2008 11:41 AM

        Given that this is a dinner w/client...
        Implying an ambiance that is sophisticated and not loud:
        Problem w./Yountville is that most places are louder except TFL.
        In St. Helena either Martini House or Terra (which is closed on Tues.)
        AdS has a great view and nice dining experience; so does Meadowood; both offer relaxed wine country resort dining. But Meadowood offers a better experience IMHO.
        All things considered, I'd say Martini House.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Madge
          Ruth Lafler May 13, 2008 01:52 PM

          Meadowood is also the closest -- straight up Silverado Trail, so you don't need to deal with Napa or 29. The only reason I'd pick Martini House over Meadowood would be if I wanted to take a stroll through St. Helena -- which is charming -- or have a drink somewhere different before or after dinner. Despite the St. Helena address, Meadowood is tucked away against the hill on the "quiet" side of the valley and is quite secluded.

          It also has two Michelin stars, which should impress a foreign visitor.

        2. l
          ljero May 13, 2008 11:13 AM

          What about Redd?

          1 Reply
          1. re: ljero
            porkbunny May 13, 2008 11:31 AM

            i really enjoy redd. great cocktails/wine list. lovely menu and a very nice ambiance. ad hoc is also one of my absolute favorites, but i'd have to agree with the previous replies... not appropriate for this situation. bouchon is a wonderful choice as well.

          2. farmersdaughter May 13, 2008 08:51 AM

            Bouchon would work but it does get pretty loud. Definitely make sure the construction is over because it's been a mess. Martini House would be a good alternative. Bistro Jeanty would be fine also. I agree with Jasmine G about Ad Hoc, although it's my personal favorite in the area.

            1. JasmineG May 13, 2008 08:19 AM

              Ad Hoc is definitely too casual, especially for a client who might have unknown dietary restrictions/preferences, since they have a set menu every night. I think that Bouchon would work (there's been a lot of construction, and people have complained about that, but it will be done by June, I think) and Martini House is also good suggestion.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JasmineG
                MMRuth May 13, 2008 12:21 PM

                Thanks - in this case, the client is somewhat of a friend, and has no dietary restrictions. I'll look into Martini House.

                1. re: MMRuth
                  Junie D May 14, 2008 12:10 PM

                  Martini House is great, but definitely more than 20 minutes away from Silverado CC.

              2. d
                dkenworthy May 13, 2008 07:14 AM

                The Silverado is slightly up-valley from Napa proper, so anything in Yountville would work out fine. Is the client a local or a visitor? Locals like Bistro Don Giovanni a lot, generally, but is is on the casual side. Is he looking for linen and hushed tones? If so, the country club itself might suit. Or, since he is willing to get a driver, Auberge (or anyplace in St. Helena, like the Martini House) would only be about 25 minutes away from the Silverado.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dkenworthy
                  MMRuth May 13, 2008 07:18 AM

                  Thanks - no, the client is visiting from Jordan. Linen yes, hushed tones not necessarily. Thanks for you ideas.

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