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Feb 17, 2009 08:07 AM

Napa Valley Lunch

Looking for a great place for lunch in the Napa Valley. (Any city) We will be there on Saturday and want to have:
1) really good food ! (no sushi)
2) a quieter atmosphere so that we can talk
3) either casual or not, inexpensive or expensive. It doesn't matter
Thanks for any suggestions you can offer. We obviously can't go to places that require a long standing reservation as we will be arriving this Saturday.

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  1. I live in San Francisco and my wife and I visit the valley quite frequently.

    You might have read that Michael Chiarello opened up a restaurant named Bottega located in Yountville. We had lunch there on Sunday and it was good. Worth a try.

    The restaurant was reviewed by local food critic Michael Bauer who can be quite brutal.

    I tried the pasta carbonara that used a type of pasta that closely resembled spatzel in texture; the sauce was very flavorful. (Michael Bauer didn't like the texture of the pasta but since I wasn't familiar to the shape, I wasn't turned off to it. My wife had the brussel sproat salad that she enjoyed.

    Michael Bauer recomends: the ribolleta, the burata and the ricotta gnocchi and a few others

    We ate at the bar that adds to the casual atmosphere not to mention easier to eat here since we didn't have a reservation and we would have had to wait for an estimated 1 to 1.5 hours.

    Check out SFGATE/FOOD.COM for the review.

    1. I highly recommend Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. I would call it moderate to expensive.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DavidT

        Thanks for your replies. Are there any others? We'd love to have several to choose from.

        1. re: runsfast

          The Martini House in Calistoga often gets very good reviews.

      2. Brix just north of Yountville has a terrific new chef and pastry chef. Everything is from their own garden and there is a beautiful view of the gardens and vineyards.
        My reports are attached to this link

        Ubuntu in Napa. It is not a vegetarian restuarant. It just doesn't serve meat. However, if you love cheese, butter and innovative food you won't notice at all. There are lovely pictures of the wonderful food and restaurant on the website

        The carta da musica with young MUSTARDS truffled pecorino, royal trumpet chips with ROSEMARY ... amazing. The weekend lunch menu is pretty much the same as dinner. Here's a directly link to a recent menu. (pdf format)

        1 Reply
        1. re: rworange

          Bottega is very nice, it's one of our special places now since it's opening. For quite try to get in first seating. Give them a call. Once the crowd rolls in it can get loud. The Cuisine is wonderful. If Chef is in he will make his rounds to all the guests.

          Tra Vigne is still quite good and again you need to get in first seating before the crowd rolls in. St. Helena.

          Martini House is also very good for lunch as well, in St. Helena.

          We also enjoy the Royal Oaks at the Silverado Resort. Peter Pak is an awesome Chef. Need to check if they serving at lunch.

          Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen is good also in St. Helena.

          Auberge in Rutherford has a beautiful view and is also very good.

        2. I'm a Yountville weekender (main place in SF) so have tried most places in the valley. A few personal favorites:

          Solbar - restaurant at Solage resort in Calistoga. Great sliders and you can order a side of deep fried pickles (all food is good, I just default to their mini-sliders). It's a great patio if weather permitting, not as big a fan of interior.

          Redd - great food but a little austere (patio is under renovation and the dining room is a little stark). That being said, food is great.

          Angele and Brix - two big favorites of the locals and both are getting great press. Brix is coming out of a long slump so we're looking forward to trying it and Angele has always been a sleeper hit.

          Bottega - yawn. celebrity chef flash and not much else good about it (think Michael Bauer must be on his payroll).

          Taylor's Refresher - good old fashioned 50s style drive in. Great burgers but also have incredible ahi tuna sandwich and a nice wine list (unless you opt for the mint chip shake, my favorite). The original in St. Helena is great but mainly outdoors. If too cold, you can opt for the new one they opened in Napa. The one in Napa is next door to the new Oxbow Public Market which has fun food shops to wander through (same developer as the ferry building in SF if you've been there).


          2 Replies
          1. re: teejaymoore

            My first visit to Taylor's didn't leave me much of a fan, but even so, one of the requirements was "a quieter atmosphere so that we can talk". Big rain expected on Saturday so St Helena would be out. The Napa location is very noisy and not a great location for conversation.

            Hope you get to try Brix since the new chef came in. Have you tried the Bank Cafe and Wine Bar yet. I wanted to try this since this is a cafe run by the chef at La Toque. Since I haven't been there yet, didn't know how conversation-friendly it would be for lunch or if the food was as good as it promises

            1. re: rworange

              Just remembered one other nice casual lunch spot that's not as well known.....Cook in St. Helena. Nice lunch counter, friendly service and you can wander the shops after lunch.

          2. Where did you end up going? If Brix, interested to hear as I'm back to hearing mixed reviews.