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Aug 27, 2009 08:36 AM

What's with Michael Chiarello's place?

So...thanks to all of your generous assistance I am all ready for my San Francisco/ Napa Sonoma trip with the whole family next week. We have Zuni, Chez Panisse, Cyrus, Ton Kiang or House of Nanking ( not sure yet) French Laundry, the Girl and the Fig etc.

My mom loooooooooooooves Michael Chiarello but I never really see much mention of his restaurant here or in any guide, Zagat's, etc.

What gives?

All Things Delish,

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    1. Chiarello's place ... not much discussion because it's new and frankly, the locals who post on this board aren't too thrilled. There are many restaurants in the Napa Valley that are better regarded.

      Meanwhile, go to Ton Kiang if you must, but please, please, please don't get sucked in to House of Nanking, no matter what you read on Zagat!

      5 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        What Ruth said....take a pass on House of Nanking. Awful!

        1. re: baseballfan

          I was getting hardballed into House of Nanking...

          If not Ton Kiang for dim sum, then where? We are from Flushing, but I still remember the dim sum at TK to be on a different level.

          So, skip Chiarello's place?

          How do you guys feel about the CIA's gourmet shop; I forget its name...

          Thanks again,

          1. re: ZenFoodist

            Should you skip Chiarello's place? I know what Richard Blais would say LOL! Instead of House of Nanking, check out Z&Y for excellent sichuan in Chinatown. I think it's better than Szechuan Gourmet or Spicy and Tasty.

            1. re: ZenFoodist

              There is a ongoing rage debate about dim sum on this board, just search "Dim Sum"

              1. re: ZenFoodist

                For dim sum, go to Hong Kong Lounge, which is just a few blocks from Ton Kiang, but on the opposite side of Geary (near 17th Ave.) Probably the top dim sum in SF right now, the crowds of Chinese people lined up outside the door every day of the week is testament to that. And a lot cheaper than Yank Sing.

          2. I've read plenty of good things about Bottega here. In fact, it helped me to choose it in May...

            6 Replies
            1. re: Reignking

              If Ruth Laffler or Melanie Wong ever say NO, I tend to roll with it :)

              1. re: ZenFoodist

                I haven't personally been to Bottega, so don't rely on me. My general impression has been that the majority of people have been unhappy with the service and kind of unimpressed by the food, but some people have had good experiences there, so if your Mom has her heart set on it, then I would say go (since you're not going to give into pressure to go to House of Nanking!). You can read all the reports for yourself and decide. You'll find them all grouped together if you go to the places link wolfe supplied above.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I went to Bottega this past June only because I wanted the polenta with wild mushroom sauce from the good old days at Tra Vigne. The way they served it was just plain silly and it was nothing at all like the one I remembered. My meal was pretty good because I was with people who knew people - i.e. waiters, bartenders, etc. I went back one afternoon for a glass of wine with a friend and while the kitchen was closed they were able to give us a cheese plate. What a joke!! I would have been embarrassed to serve something so mundane and miniscule at home. Three glasses of wine and a cheese plate --close to $100!!! Too many other great places to give your money to.

                  1. re: Mariana in Baja

                    the menu lists the cheese plate at $15, was that what you were charged? That would mean your 3 glasses of wine were about $25 each, is that right? I thought the menu prices seemed reasonable but if that is correct about the wine, that would really tilt the ticket.

                    1. re: tomatoaday

                      I don't know because my friend looked at the bill and divided it up. Her daughter did have a Shirley Temple as well. I must say that one of the glasses of wine was a bubbly. They supposedly made up the cheese plate especially for us because the kitchen was closed. Maybe there is a surcharge when the kitchen is closed!!!

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I had dinner at Bottega in early August. We were staying in Yountville and had an 8:00 pm reservation on a Tuesday. We got there and the place was swarming with people -- really mobbed unlike any of the other restaurants. Things started badly when the table wasn't ready and they gave us one of those Cheesecake Factory-type buzzers to walk around with that vibrates when your table is ready, but they invite you to go next door to his NapaStyle store where you can get Michael Chiarello "Bottega" plates, wines, etc. That is not the right way to start the evening -- way tacky. We were seated about 20 minutes late. The dinner was good but not great. The service was OK, but 2 different waiters made fun of Yountville as "Kellertown" -- not needed and I had a much better dinner the next night at Ad Hoc -- while deifying Michael Chiarello (who was in and walking around that night). The restaurant was very, very loud. We sat outside and they were having a problem with the fireplace, smoking out some of the guests. Things just were off. On a bright note, they have a great wine list with minimal mark-up on the prices. Things were not bad, but they just weren't too good -- needless to say, I will not go back.

              2. I went to Bottega on my Napa trip a couple weeks ago and I actually really liked it. Maybe we happened to order the good stuff. We went there for lunch so it was more casual and we didn't spend too much (well, for Napa Valley anyway).

                Really loved the "Bacon and Egg" appetizer (who doesn't like pork belly?), my braised rabbit entree, and and warm chocolate cake dessert, but the prawn pasta was just so-so. The wine was pretty decent...good value if you get a quartino - 1 1/2 glasses is good enough for lunch. The service wasn't terrible, but wasn't great either.

                I would go back just to have more of that pork belly!

                1. I agree generally with what has been said. I had a very disappointing experience with the service at Bottega. However, if my mother-in-law was in town I would deeeeeeeefinitely take her. She watches Chiarello on TV and adores him. Apparently he is a real sex symbol among 80-something, Italian-American women................