Napa restaurants and wineries for a Day - Feedback on selections appreciated
My wife and I are going to have one day to spend in Napa in July. We currently have reservations at Bistro Jeanty for lunch and Ubuntu for dinner.
A couple questions:
1. Is the tasting menu at Ubuntu better than ordering a la carte?
2. Are there any other recommendations for Bistro Jeanty aside from the tomato soup and foie gras blonde? Is there a Napa lunch suggestion that would blow away Bistro Jeanty? We're going to a French bistro because we don't usually go to them too often.
3. Any recommendations for wineries to visit between our meals? We're not big wine drinkers but would like to visit some wineries since we're in the area. Schafer looked like a promising option.
4. What should we do for breakfast the next day? I haven't found great options searching this forum. I've seen ABC mentioned but the last thread I read gave it a fairly scathing review. Our current plan is to hit Bouchon bakery and then hit the road for an afternoon flight out of SFO.
I've read about someone getting the tasting menu at Ubuntu, but I think she had to set that up beforehand. I didn't see it available on a Wednesday night when I was there a few weeks ago.
If you go to Ubuntu, do whatever you can to get a 4-person table (or maybe the back porch?) for some privacy. We were jammed in against others along the wall, and with the high ceilings, I could listen in on everyone's conversation.
I haven't met a Schafer wine I don't like, so that's a good choice. And I'll probably get slammed because it's such a megacorp, but Mondavi has a lovely winery and great tour. It was the first place I ever went and it was a nice introduction. I like to think I've moved beyond Mondavi since then, but Napa Newbies always enjoy it so if you're not big wine drinkers and have never been to Napa chances are you'll appreciate the hand holding.
Bouchon Bakery is a MUST, especially the pistachio and caramel macaroons. They are oversized and amazing. My friends bought some to share this weekend and just typing this makes me tempted to jump in the car and head to Yountville.
When I went to Ubuntu with 3 other people, the waiter suggested an impromptu tasting menu--he gave us every dish that wasn't a pizza and then we chose 1-2 pizzas. It came out to about $75pp without drinks. It worked out very well for us, although it might be more difficult if one was in a smaller party. If you can do it, I highly recommend it.
I called Ubuntu and they said that while they don't have a tasting menu currently, they're exploring turning the whole restaurant into a tasting menu ordering system vs. a la carte.
I've recently gotten pretty curious about Bottega. We're currently scheduled to go to Bistro Jeanty for lunch. Other than the famous puff pastry tomato soup, is Bistro Jeanty worth a visit over Bottega? We enjoy both cuisines so we don't really care one way or the other, just looking for the better food and dining experience.
Don't know if you have come and gone, but I would go with Sweetie Pie's or even Model Bakery in Napa rather than Bouchon ... though the donuts at Bouchon are great, the rest is pretty hit and miss and not worth it IMO.
For some reason Napa isn't a real breakfast place, though Boon Fly is pretty good.
HOWEVER, since you are driving back to the airport anyway, on the same road that Boon Fly is located, a way down is a new places that I'm totally captivated with ... Fremont Diner.
It is so cool ... very country inside and picnic tables overlooking a vineyard outside. Really great grits and baked goods. They are open Mon-Sat at 7am for breakfast. Here's my recent report. I like them better than Boon Fly. If you can manage a fried pie in the morning it is highly recommended.
Sonoma: Fremont Diner - Ham w/red-eye gravy, organic drip coffee, white grits, griddlecakes, cheerwine float, sweet tea and house-made fresh plum popsicles
With Ubuntu, I'd see how similar the tasting menu was to the regular menu. If there are lots of common dishes, go a la carte for a larger variety.
If it is too late, what did you choose?
Bistro Jeanty or Bottega? Two very different types of restaurants. BJ is relatively small and very much a French bistro. Bottega is a beautiful new restaurant and much larger and, obviously, Italian. Both are good. I'd check out both their menus on line and see what appeals. Aside from the tomato soup, BJ has some terrific appetizer or salad offerings. You could order several of them to share and that would be a nice lunch. The escarole salad with soft boiled egg, pork belly, trout salad with potatoes, pigs feet salad with green beans are among my favorites. Entrees at BJ tend to be very hearty, though the mussels and sole meuniere are a little less so. The chocolate mousse creme' brulee at BJ is one of my favorite desserts. I've only been to Bottega once for lunch and did enjoy it but I'm not as familiar with their menu as it is only a few months old. Again, check out their menus--probably can't go wrong at either place.
It's been a couple months since our trip to Napa but we had a great time.
Bistro Jeanty was good but not great. We enjoyed the signature tomato soup and fried smelts. The foie blonde appetizer was a bit more "livery" tasting than my wife would have liked but I thought it was decent.
We purposely ate light and decided to stop by Bottega b/c we'd never had burrata before and they were offering a burrata heirloom tomato salad with balsamic caviar. This was a fantastic dish. The burrata was very rich and creamy, the tomatoes beautiful with their varying colors and flavors all reflecting the ultimate in ripeness, and the balsamic caviar added the additional acidity in small dosese which really picked up the dish.
Dinner at Ubuntu was fantastic and I would highly recommend anyone interested to try it.