Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jul 9, 2008 11:18 AM

Napa Valley Martini House

The Martini House was an unexpected pleasure! The converted home, unlike many others of its ilk, was dining (and patio) ready in a very unique-eclectic style. My husband and I sat in a booth by the open kitchen, and while not so romantic, we got to see a lot of what was going on and we enjoyed that. The eclectic decor was wonderfully married with the formality of the food. Not stuffy or overthought, just formal and professionally presented. Delicious as well!

I wish I could describe more about the food, but we ordered the same dish, quail, and it was perfect. I've had some wonderful dining around the states and in Europe, and the quail dish, the amuse bouche, wine service and pairing were outstanding. Please give it a try when you're up valley in St. Helena.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It seems to appeal to locals and visitors.

    Martini House
    1245 Spring St., St. Helena, CA 94574

    1. That's one of the things I love about Martini House -- the converted Craftsman bungalow is both beautifully done and evocative of the California lifestyle. Many restaurants you could pick them up and put them anywhere (or a wide variety of places), but Martini House has a very strong sense of place, which is why I like to recommend it to visitors who, presumably, come to California to experience California.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        As I recall, Martini House also has a very nice bar downstairs with a separate bar menu.

      2. I went there years ago.... it is so lovely. My ex does the garden there, which is odd but true. It is incredibly lovely. The inside blows my mind. Cannot remember anything about the meal due to stars in my eyes at the time.... and the sommelier. A very young gent who was my first introduction into non pretentious wine stewards. No longer are the days of the clamshell wearing, mustachioed person drinking half your bottle. He was friendly, real, and talked us out of a 180 bottle down to a 65 one that was simple, "better"


        4 Replies
        1. re: pavlov

          I think the sommelier you are describing may be the gifted and lovely Rob Renteria. Martini House's wine list is among the most unusual, and very fine.

          I adore the patio there in the summer.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            PHENOMENAL... you have it. He was quite young at the time. I adore this new trend... sort of blue collar or "verite" wine people. Very earnest and real about
            1) creating the perfect pairing, at all costs (even the upsell)
            2) that good wine goes with good food and makes the overall experience so much better (hence padding entree cost a bit more, bringing the wine mark up down a bit... allowing and encouraging purchasing wine with the meal to enrich the experience.

            I know the sommelier at Cavallo Point is maybe... 28? Dan put together a ridiculous wine list.

            1. re: pavlov

              Rob Renteria does have a non-elitist, "everyman" manner, though he can dance with the most elite, most expensive pairings as well.

              He is down-to-earth, charming, easy to speak with, respectful of any budget range, and knows which wines go best with each menu item at Martini House. He's such an asset to the place.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                the dinner i had here with friends last summer was delightful! unpretentious, as others have mentioned -- they weren't snooty, the sommelier (also, very young but i can't recall his name) was helpful, and the best part for me was that they were so accommodating for me as a vegetarian. my friend and i had the tomato and mushroom tasting menus, respectively, with wine pairings, while our bfs ordered off the menu and shared some bottles of delicious wine suggested by the sommelier. we had a late dinner at 9ish and were there until almost midnight, sipping and chatting in the garden.

                i am looking forward to returning to martini house in a few weeks to celebrate the same friends' wedding. they live in l.a. and decided to honeymoon in napa. we are also going to chez panisse for the first time the night before! i have lived in the east bay for over 4 years and i still haven't eaten there.