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The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore - anyone been?

vulber Mar 16, 2011 01:10 PM

Got a gift certificate to go here - had never even heard of it - but OpenTable and Yelp reviews are all very positive, which says a lot, considering they have $30+ entrees being located all the way out in Livermore. Was wondering if anyone's been/has recommendations on what to get...

  1. Ruth Lafler Mar 16, 2011 01:25 PM

    Just once for lunch several years ago. It's a really nice restaurant out in the vineyards, worth the price atmosphere-wise. Lunch actually might be the way to go, so you can enjoy the setting. I suppose I should add it to my list of restaurants that are growing their own produce (and their estate olive oil is yummy!).

    It looks like they're making a serious effort at being local and seasonal. Ling cod with Delta asparagus -- now that's a little bit more creative than a lot of menus I've reviewed in the last couple of weeks! I like that all the cheeses they offer are from Northern California, and that they feature Livermore Valley wines beyond their own.

    Wente Vineyards Restaurant & Visitors Center
    5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, CA 94550

    1. artychokeasana Apr 12, 2011 09:43 AM

      The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards has been through a number of Chef's over the past 10 years. Some have been much better than other.-hence the varied eviews you will find both on paper and the inter webs. The current chef is excellent, so now would be a great time to go. The setting is beautiful so lunch or a pre-sunset summer dinner would be perfect. Try not to go on a night when Wente is having a concert-unless you are attending the concert-the service and food on concert nights is fine-even good-for the amount of people they are processing but everything is a notch better on non-concert evenings.

      1. b
        baseballfan Apr 12, 2011 01:46 PM

        The setting is stunning. Definitely go for lunch, Sunday brunch or early enough to enjoy the sunset. The menu is fairly limited but the food always seems to be quite good. I tend to order beef and have been very happy with the variety of items that I have ordered.

        Be aware that they do not have a full bar. This was a problem for my mother in law. Reservations are usually necessary.

        9 Replies
        1. re: baseballfan
          myst Apr 18, 2011 11:19 AM

          Just had dinner at Wente this weekend. For a Sunday it pretty full.

          The setting is always very pretty and service was great. House made bread and olive oil were complimentary.

          We had a warm goat cheese appetizer and crispy baby artichokes. Both were simple but very tasty.

          I had the special Earth Day menu which included a barely dressed butter leaf salad. It needed salt and pepper but was overall fresh and unremarkable.

          For entrees, we had two different versions of pork. I had the porchetta with quinoa. It was a very generous portion circled by very crunchy crackling and the quinoa had a nice mustard flavor to offset the fatty pork.

          My SO loved his double cut pork chop and the sauce. It was again simple prepared and moist.

          For dessert I had a combination creamsicle with orange sorbet, vanilla ice cream and sliced tangerines with a lavender shortbread.

          SO had some kind of gooey chocolate, coffee icecream, bourbon carmel sauce thing....

          Very filling and enjoyable meal.

          1. re: baseballfan
            artychokeasana Jun 1, 2011 08:27 PM

            They do have a full bar. I thought I remembered there having one so I called them and they confirmed it.

            1. re: artychokeasana
              baseballfan Jun 7, 2011 09:00 AM

              That is good to know. It was super unpleasant when my mother in law found out that there was no vodka tonic to be had.

              1. re: baseballfan
                artychokeasana Jun 7, 2011 09:07 AM

                I wonder if they briefly lost their license?

                1. re: baseballfan
                  artychokeasana Jun 7, 2011 09:08 AM

                  and baseballfan-if you happen to be partial to the Giants that was some game last night!

                  1. re: artychokeasana
                    baseballfan Jun 8, 2011 08:04 PM

                    Yes it was! I am a huge Giants fan! To keep this on topic, I did a fun baseball theme meal that my kids got a kick out of. Popcorn and crab nachos to start followed by my take on the cha cha bowl as well as hot dogs and garlic fries.

                    1. re: baseballfan
                      artychokeasana Jun 9, 2011 08:43 AM

                      That's a great dinner! What a nice treat for your kids. My favorite new food at the ballyard this season is at the Farmer's Market on the club level. They take a whole apple and put it through the same machine that In and Out uses to cut their potatoes for fries. Then they put the apples in a paper "boat" and drizzle them with really good caramel and sprinkle them with peanuts. Really good. I guess it is a deconstructed caramel apple-but it is so much easier to eat.

                      1. re: artychokeasana
                        baseballfan Jun 9, 2011 09:48 AM

                        That stand did look good. the line was quite long last time we were there and my impatient hubby was not feeling it. I love caramel so that is in my future.

                        1. re: baseballfan
                          artychokeasana Jun 9, 2011 10:30 AM

                          the line there can be long and slow..I think because most things need to be assembled or cooked-I 've noticed that it isn't very busy there pre-game it's more popular from the 5th inning and after as with most of the coffee and dessert oriented stands...let me know if you try them and if you like them. The German pretzels there are very good too.

            2. z
              ziggles Jan 14, 2013 03:12 PM

              Just bumping this up to get some more recent opinions. Heading to Livermore for a weekend of wine tasting and would like to have a reasonably nice dinner on Saturday night. Is Wente still the go-to place, or are there other suggestions in the Livermore/Pleasanton/Dublin area?

              12 Replies
              1. re: ziggles
                jaiko Jan 16, 2013 02:42 PM

                Wente is still probably the best upscale restaurant but it is a full 1/2 hr drive from Pleasanton/Dublin (when there's no traffic, which you can't count on in CCC).

                Our friends live out there so we have tried half a dozen less expensive places than Wente, all quite different:

                - Coco Cabana: small plates, some nice spicy items. Can be very noisy though; it's popular especially on weekend evenings and the bar is right beside the dining room. The best of the bunch, though, food-wise.
                - Black Angus steakhouse: I know, this is weird. But although we are normally upscale diners, I was surprised that this was actually a more-than-decent steakhouse for a moderate chain. The service ie excellent (Coco's is more erratic; sometimes good, sometimes not), and for a party of four those booths are both comfortable and allow you to actually talk with your friends, instead of screaming at one another.

                - Lokanta Turkish: located in downtown Pleasanton. We have some Turkish friends who make it a point to visit every new Turkish restaurant in the Bay Area, from San Mateo to Santa Rosa, San Francisco to Livermore. They approve of very few of them. Lokanta is one of those they are willing to return to.

                If you can get there before 11a on Sundays, the best dim sum in the East Bay is at Lee Garden Seafood in Pleasanton. No reservations.

                1. re: jaiko
                  ziggles Jan 16, 2013 04:14 PM

                  Thanks for the feedback. We're actually staying in Livermore, so we will probably try for something around there for dinner Saturday night. Sounds like we might have to go for dim sum at Lee Garden on our way home on Sunday though! And Lokanta sounds amazing.

                  Would be curious about your thoughts on places in Livermore, if you have any.

                  1. re: ziggles
                    KatoK Jan 16, 2013 04:32 PM

                    Uncle Yu's in the Vineyards is a pretty upscale, but still casual Chinese restaurant. Extensive wine list and the proprietor will suggest pairing combinations.

                    The Happy Hour at Zephyrs is worth a look for a drink and a plate to share.

                    There is a new BBQ place called Sauced that is doing some decent smoking.
                    Review here: http://www.mercurynews.com/entertainm...

                    I haven't been, but some friends have enjoyed Double Barrel Wine Bar, link here:

                    Livermore's options are improving, but there still aren't many "fine dining" options...yet.

                    1. re: ziggles
                      atomicspin Jan 18, 2013 07:50 PM

                      El Sacramonte is really solid. Great, upscale Mexican food.

                      Sauced is decent BBQ but a lot of fun.

                      I don't understand the draw to Uncle Yu's, it's nice and they have a mediocre wine list but locals use it for date night.

                      If it's a lunch date, check out First Street AleHouse.

                      Out at the vineyards, there's a really good little bistro that has a great view at Garre vineyard & winery, worth checking out.

                  2. re: ziggles
                    JonDough Jan 16, 2013 03:24 PM

                    I haven't been but other options in Livermore are Uncle Yu's, Demitri's, El Sacromonte or Strizzi's.

                    1. re: ziggles
                      ziggles Jan 18, 2013 08:54 AM

                      Thanks for all of the great suggestions...looks like we have a number of reasonable options for dinner in the area.

                      Looking forward to tasting the wines of Livermore Valley this weekend...any recommendations on wineries that we shouldn't miss?

                      1. re: ziggles
                        JonDough Jan 18, 2013 09:07 AM

                        what kind of wines do you like?

                        1. re: JonDough
                          ziggles Jan 18, 2013 09:23 AM

                          We're pretty open to all types of wine (provided they are on the dry side). For reds, we especially like Cab Franc and meritage type blends. For whites, riesling, full bodied, dry pinto gris (along the lines of those coming out of Willamette Valley), and Chardonnay, when it is nicely balanced. But again, we're open to any suggestions.

                          We tend to prefer wineries that are on the more rustic, homey side...the type of place where you might actually run into the winemaker in the tasting room (or at least have someone pouring who actually knows and cares about the wine).

                          1. re: ziggles
                            Ruth Lafler Jan 18, 2013 11:30 AM

                            It's been several years, but we really liked the whites at Chouinard.

                            1. re: ziggles
                              JonDough Jan 18, 2013 12:19 PM

                              It has been awhile for me too.

                              For rustic and homey I would suggest Boa Ventura but I don't think they are open this weekend. Mostly cabs, usually 1 white and a blend or two. Tasting room (barn?) is right next to their house and you can see their kids playing throughout the day when it is nice out. Some of the cabs are single vineyard and you can see them from the tasting room which is kinda cool.

                              I had a good Cab Franc at Occasio. It is not listed on the website, so you might want to call. There are three other wineries in the same complex, which makes it a convenient stop but it is a commercial area.

                              Steve Kent (cab/chard)/La Rochelle (only pinot) - usually has knowledgeable people. Both are on the same property.

                              Cuda Ridge - Bordeaux style and has cab franc. Haven't been yet. I have a friend that wants me to go with her, so maybe soon.

                              En Grade - haven't heard much about it but they have cab franc. Most of the fruit is sourced from outside of Livermore.

                              Please report back on your trip.

                          2. re: ziggles
                            Robert Lauriston Jan 18, 2013 12:43 PM

                            Wente makes some interesting wines sold only at the winery:


                            Thomas Coyne has some interesting stuff.


                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              JonDough Jan 18, 2013 01:43 PM

                              Thomas Coyne is pretty rustic (you wine taste in a very old barn) and all their wine is <$30 which is nice. The glasses you taste out of are crap though and it bugs me. The glasses are probably the same age as the barn.

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