Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Dec 14, 2009 11:08 AM

St Helena restaurants...

We have been to both Cindy's Backstreet and Go Fish, looking to try some other places. Thinking of aka Bistro or Market for Friday night ... but have not seen much on the boards for either. Any recommendations? We will probably go to Martini House for Saturday.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Don't know if you saw it but Martini House lost its single star in the latest Michelin guide to the Bay Area and Wine Country. Not sure if it's lost it's edge but the owner and chef remain the same and it seems relatively consistent to us.

    Our favorite spot in St. Helena is Terra, excellent food and very good service in a quieter, more elegant setting.

    Have always enjoyed Martini House but it is pricey and at times servings can be small. The setting is terrific (Kuleto designed it and is an owner) and it always has good energy.

    If you want to to go further upscale, the Restaurant at Meadowood gets top reviews (two Michelin stars, same as Cyrus) and has top prices to go with it. (We haven't been under the new regime.)

    You don't say what style of food you're looking for. aka Bistro is good but the wine list prices are high, especially for a relatively casual spot in St. Helena. Cook is quite good for casual Italian (chef/owner is ex Tra Vigne). It's tiny and you'll want a reservation. Market is good, not great, but the prices are OK and the service is friendly and it has a good bar if you've had enough wine.

    For some reason we haven't been to Tra Vigne in some time, they've had multiple chef turnovers, and can't say how good it is...perhaps someone else has been there recently.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MRMoggie

      Mostly just looking for good food -- true to what it should be. I should try Terra again. Went there many years ago, and we were really turned off by a snobby waiter. Cook is a good idea...

      1. re: firecooked

        Market is OK, good food, but nothing special, and I don't like akaBistro at all. Not that the food was bad, it's just not good enough compared to other places in the area to warrant the prices or another visit.

        I second the recommendation for Cook and Terra as better alternatives to aka Bistro.

    2. Back from a great weekend in St. Helena. What great weather (for December especially). We grabbed lunch in Napa at the Fatted Calf, and had soup and a sandwich. We started our winery visits at Clos Pegase, one of our long time favorites (and a good place to start, since we had not bothered with reservations). We re-joined their wine club which we had to stop when we moved to Arizona, fortunately the shipping laws have changed so we can once again get club shipments. They also took care of making us a reservation that afternoon at Failla, a winery we passed on the way there. We had had (and really liked) their Pinot's, but had never visited. Failla was definately the new find for this trip. They are a small producer, mostly Pinot Noir's and a Chardonnay. Most of the fruit is sourced from the the Russian River or Sonoma, which is a bit cooler and better suited to these grapes. They ferment in open containers (!), and then into French oak. We tasted several different Pinot's ... they were all good.. and only one is available outside the winerly. Last, we visited Salvestrin, another favorite. Dinner was at Cook, DH had some really awesome pasta, with roasted pork. I had cioppino... lots of good seafood, but it was pretty spicy, which was OK but not wine friendly. Nice atmosphere, clearly lots of locals. Would definitely go back.

      On Saturday, we went to Casa Nuestra Winery. They did some interesting stuff ... we bought a few bottles, I'm reserving judgement until we tasted them a bit more. Lunch was at Greystone, in addition to the temptations appetizer, I had the onion soup which had a fun Gruyère meringue / souffle top. That afternoon we visited Bremer Family Winery, one of our absolute favorites. We liked everything we tasted! After that, we were pretty much winery-ed out... and had enough wine coming to fill the wine fridge. Dinner was at Martini House. I had chicken pot pie and DH had pot roast... nothing like comfort food done sous-vide!

      Martini House
      1245 Spring St., St. Helena, CA 94574

      Fatted Calf
      644-C First Street, Napa, CA 94559

      Greystone Restaurant
      2555 Main St St, Helena, CA

      1310 Main St, Saint Helena, CA 94574

      1 Reply
      1. re: firecooked

        Glad you liked Cook;s, it has been a local favorite for eons, since it was Green Valley Cafe (lunch) or Trattoria Green Valley (dinner). Original owner retired/sold and new owner maintained a few of the old favorites, alas not old prices. For future reference, a couple of the former cooks moved down the street at opened Vercelli's with basically the old Green Valley menu and lower prices than Cook. Quality is about the same as the old Green Valley and they are relatively fare on their corkage, a plus for the locals who do like to bring their own, often their own labels.