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What's with Michael Chiarello's place?

ZenFoodist Aug 27, 2009 08:36 AM

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,
lisa

  1. wolfe Aug 27, 2009 08:39 AM

    This one?
    http://www.chow.com/places/41746

    1. Ruth Lafler Aug 27, 2009 09:23 AM

      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
        b
        baseballfan Aug 27, 2009 10:52 AM

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

        1. re: baseballfan
          ZenFoodist Aug 27, 2009 11:11 AM

          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,
          lisa

          1. re: ZenFoodist
            a_and_w Aug 27, 2009 12:02 PM

            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
              chefj Aug 27, 2009 05:53 PM

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

              1. re: ZenFoodist
                r
                rcinsf Aug 29, 2009 04:04 PM

                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. r
            Reignking Aug 27, 2009 11:33 AM

            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
              ZenFoodist Aug 27, 2009 11:58 AM

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

              1. re: ZenFoodist
                Ruth Lafler Aug 27, 2009 12:34 PM

                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
                  m
                  Mariana in Baja Aug 27, 2009 01:06 PM

                  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
                    t
                    tomatoaday Aug 27, 2009 01:36 PM

                    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
                      m
                      Mariana in Baja Aug 28, 2009 06:33 PM

                      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
                    s
                    stevenmargolis Aug 27, 2009 03:05 PM

                    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. a
                arlenemae Aug 27, 2009 06:16 PM

                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. Junie D Aug 27, 2009 08:10 PM

                  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................

                  1. s
                    sccrkeepr Aug 28, 2009 12:53 PM

                    House of Nanking is a tourist trap! I actually signed up to post on chowhound to tell you this. Please dont go there, they are rude and will actually tell you what you should order. Instead, right next door, is the great tasting and cheap Chef Jia's. The best chinese i've had since moving to the bay area.

                    Bottega is ok. I prefer the Rutherferd grill. Great Apps, great cocktails, an outside bar and very good service. The food is very good too.

                    MIchelle B.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: sccrkeepr
                      Robert Lauriston Aug 28, 2009 01:16 PM

                      House of Nanking gets a lot of repeat business from locals. Not that most customers necessarily do, or that I'm in any rush to go back, but it's possible to eat well there.

                      Chef Jia's is pretty average Chinese-American.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        Atomica Aug 29, 2009 09:35 AM

                        I agree. I've liked House of Nanking every time I've been, despite how unhip that may make me.

                      2. re: sccrkeepr
                        a
                        adamshoe Aug 28, 2009 03:33 PM

                        Rutherford grill is actually part of the "Houston's" chain, but you shouldn't hold that against them. Their french dip is the standard to which I hold all others. Their signature warm dip is pretty dang good, too. It's 100 degrees in Oakland right now; can't believe I'm craving warm dip!!! adam

                        1. re: adamshoe
                          b
                          bobpantzer Aug 28, 2009 03:49 PM

                          I concur. I just don't order a french dip anywhere but Rutherford Grill/Houston's anymore. I love their ribs, too.

                          1. re: bobpantzer
                            v
                            vday Aug 28, 2009 08:02 PM

                            The ribs are seeming a little smaller than a few years ago, but still wonderfully tender and delicious . . . I always order them:-)

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