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May 6, 2009 03:40 PM

Napa Valley - three great dinners?

We will be spending three days in Yountville in the Napa Valley visiting the various wineries in the region. We are looking for three terrific restaurants for dinner. Although money is not a huge issue, we do not want to spend the kind of bucks that the French Laundry costs (~$300pp). We prefer American, French or Italian food...probably not Asian (we get great Asian at home!). On previous visits, we had excellent meals at the Martini House in St. Helena and at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. We would happily revisit these two places, but would like to know where others would go for three great dinners!

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  1. Redd, Terra, Martini House would be my first choices. Ubuntu is very unique as well as delicous, if you're not adverse to a meatless meal. Very innovative.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bobpantzer

      I live part time in Napa and these would be my 3/4 recommendations. We are not fans of Bouchon but we do love Bistro Jeanty and often find ourselves at the bar for a Saturday lunch.

    2. Redd, Ubuntu, Ad Hoc. Each is a very different experience, very different food, and each generally remarkable.

      1. Thomas Keller's Bouchon bistro is where i would eat all three of those dinners. If you like bistro dining, it doesn't get better than this. Go early for casual dining, or later if you like the noise and energy of a bistro. Love this place. Bistro Jeanty is also a fave. You could also take a sunset drive up to St. Helena and stop at Taylor's Refresher for a burger. Order up a bottle of Shafer or Paul Hobbs to go with it. If you can't tell, I like my wine country dinners a little more casual. Have fun!

        3 Replies
        1. re: jeffandnat

          Well...I guess our tastes differ. I have been to Bouchon in Yountville twice and each time had very bad service, very cramped, uncomfortable seating and intolerable noise. We were so uncomfortable that it was impossible to judge the food. We will definitely not return. As an aside, we have been to the Bouchon in Las Vegas twice, and each time had a very good but not great, meal.

          In the Napa Valley we are looking for excellent food and comfortable ambiance...much like that which is available at the Martini House.

          1. re: josephnl

            Sorry to hear of your Bouchon experiences. I have had wonderful meals there, but the energy (noise), is definitely not for all. I also enjoy Martini House. I had a mushroom tasting menu last year that was fabulous. How about the terrace at Auberge du Soleil? I have not been there, but hear the view/ambiance is sweet. Anyone know how the food rates?

            1. re: jeffandnat

              Haven't been to the Auberge in a few years. But at that time, lunch was quite amazing...mainly because of the setting, but the food was very good also.

              Yes...the "energy" at Bouchon, is definitely not to our taste!

        2. Some fine recommendations so far, here is another. We were there last week and it was great.

          1. I'm shocked no one has mentioned Micheal Chiarello's Bottega! Amazing food, beautiful atmosphere - an overall wonderful experience. Get there a bit early for a cocktail on the outdoor patio...

            Oh and if you really want something fun, get the crab!

            5 Replies
            1. re: rflevin

              Well, I didn't mention Bottega because I have not been there yet. We have reservations in mid-June for lunch and I am looking forward to it. I loved Tre Vigna in the early Michael Chiarello days. I yearn for that baked polenta appetizer with wild mushrooms and that gamey sauce. It was there, too, that I first had fresh strawberiries with black pepper and balsamic vinegar. What a surprise!

              1. re: bobpantzer

                OMG - I had forgotten that polenta appetizer.l I lived in St. Helena in the early Tra Vigna days and ate at the bar often just to have that. Does anyone know if he is doing it at Bottega? I will be in Yountville next month and would go just for that.

                1. re: Mariana in Baja

                  Sorry - I meant Tra Vigne - but you all know what I meant. And - has anyone eaten there recently - Tra Vigne???? I haven't been there in ten years and it had slipped so badly the last time.

                  1. re: Mariana in Baja

                    Mariana, it seems to be on their current online menu with the name "polenta under glass". Ingredients sound the same as what I remember and, I agree, I would go just for that. I am going for lunch in June and hope it's still on the menu then.

                2. re: rflevin

                  I don't know if Bottega is worth mentioning. It's crowded because people want to check out Michael Chiarello but I have to say that when I tried last month the kitchen seemed a bit off balanced with its prep of dishes and the service (or at least my waiter) was a bit frantic because of the crowds.