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Has anyone been to Ubuntu lately?

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I see that the chef has changed, and they haven't updated their website menu since December, so I'm wondering if this is still a can't miss.

I think it will torture my meat-and-potato loving husband to eat there, so I don't want to drag him in if it's not worthwhile.

I am going to be driving from Napa down to Big Sur and am thinking of just getting lunch at Duarte's instead.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Given those 2 choices I would take Ubuntu, new chef sight unseen, to any lunch at Duarte's.

    1. Downtown Napa, where Ubuntu is located, to Duarte's is about two hours on a good day, three if there is traffic, with much of the bay area in between. It seems very odd to only choose between those two with a meat and potatoes husband. I am having a tough time thinking of two restaurants that I would consider more different (though I haven't eaten at Ubuntu since the chef change).

      1. The Fremont Diner just outside Napa might be a good place for a lunch stop instead of waiting until Duarte's to eat.

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        Fremont Diner
        2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

        1. My husband and I are meat eaters, but went with freinds to Ubuntu. We had an incredible meal. I willd efinitly go back when we are in NAPA!! Don't miss this stop.

          1 Reply
          1. re: drjlc

            drjlc, have you eaten at Ubuntu since Jeremy Fox, the original chef left?

          2. I guess I didn't explain my dilemma clearly enough...I am going to be driving down to Big Sur that day and am wondering if it is worth staying in Napa for lunch or if I should hit the road instead, considering that Ubuntu has a new chef and may not be as good as it previously was.

            What I was not looking for a was a post on the differences between Ubuntu and Duarte's; clearly they are different restaurants in different locations, but from my understanding, they are both destination restaurants in their own rite.

            I guess no one has been to Ubuntu lately?

            6 Replies
            1. re: littleguy

              I think Duarte's is fun and I enjoy it as a stop on a Sunday excursion to the San Mateo coast; but for an out-of-towner with only limited time in the bay area, I wouldn't necessarily consider it a destination. I used to think of Ubuntu as a destination but haven't been since the changes, nor would I consider it a good choice for someone with a limited number of meals if one of the party would think of it as torture.

              Thus, my prior post. I'd choose somewhere else in either the East Bay, SF proper, or the peninsula that you are really interested in but don't have time for given your limited schedule.

              1. re: susancinsf

                Given the constraints and the direction of travel, I'd eat at the Village Pub in Woodside, and then take off across the mountains on Skyline Drive.

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                Village Pub
                2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                1. re: Paul H

                  Skyline Drive (Route 35) doesn't go across the mountains, it goes south along the ridge line -- since it's parallel to both 1 and 101 it's completely impractical for a trip that continues on to Monterey/Big Sur. Did you mean 84, which runs west from Woodside? That's one of my favorite drives, and I do it often (about once a year for the last 18 years), but it's really slow and you have to enjoy driving on windy roads and on the weekends, sharing them with motorcycles and bicyclists.

                  Back to the chow -- if you're thinking of Duarte's as a "destination" you'll be disappointed. I would not plan my route around it. What exactly are you looking for on this drive and how long are you willing to take? If you want to go scenic, then I'd go for it and go through Sonoma to Marin and over the Golden Gate Bridge and then down Hwy One. It will be a long drive, but very beautiful, and lots of opportunities for chow along the way -- maybe the new Peruvian place in Montara, La Costanera. If you just want to get to Big Sur (plenty of scenery there) I'd probably just head down to San Jose and pick up Hwy 101 cut over to Hwy 1 at Prunedale (the route google maps recommends). Along that route, I'd stop in San Jose for Vietnamese food in the huge Vietnamese area right off 101 around Story Road. What day of the week were you going to be doing this, as that will afffect traffic patterns?

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                  La Costanera
                  8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    what she said, although sadly, La Costanera is not open for lunch, so one might as well save the views for Big Sur.

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                    La Costanera
                    8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA 94037

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      You are correct, Ruth... I did mean highway 84 which is also know as Woodside Drive, which is where the Village Pub is.

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                      Village Pub
                      2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I really like Duarte's but I must agree with the above posters, it's really not a destination restaurant. One of the best things about it is the drive along Hiway 1 and it's small-town charm. Now if part of what you are looking for is the overall experience, a nice drive and a nice meal in a charming restaurant then it fits the bill perfectly.

                2. for what it's worth i had dinner at ubuntu this past saturday and it was still fantastic. the new chef is clearly seizing his newfound opportunity. the fennel was the single best-cooked piece of any variety of vegetable i have ever had.

                  it was the fifth or sixth time i've been able to dine at ubuntu and, while all of the others were with jeremy fox as head chef, i would consider this most recent adventure to be one of the best experiences i've had. four thumbs up to aaron london and his forthcoming success.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mahjede

                    Some info about London, who's been there since the first month:

                    http://www.rimag.com/article/454945-A...

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Impressive resume to say the least.

                    2. re: mahjede

                      We went to Ubuntu shortly after Fox left, and the food was just as good as it was before. But a lot of the menu looked similar to me from our last visit. To some extent, they might just be coasting on momentum. But I'll definitely be interested to see how things change, for better or worse (or not at all), in the coming months without the duo Fox influence.

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                      Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                      1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

                      1. re: napaeats

                        I think that is where we will see if Ubuntu succeeds or fails; Chef Jeremy CONSISTENTLY changed the menu with every season over the last few years; having eaten there every four months or so since he opened, there were very few dishes that were repeated over the years as he consistently was creating new and innovative dishes. Wonder if the Sous-having-taken-over will have that creativity.

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                        Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
                        1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558