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Jan 21, 2012 06:08 PM

Need Recs for 2 Dinners and Lunches in St. Helena

We are staying at the Harvest Inn in February and are seeking recommendations for two fine dining dinners and two interesting lunches for our trip in or near the St. Helena area. We have never stayed in St. Helena before, but to give you an idea of what we like, the last time we stayed in Yountville we dined at Ad Hoc, Bistro Jeanty, Bottega, and Brix.

The restaurants are currently consider are Tra Vigne, Terra, Farmestead, Cook (lunch), and Taylor's Refresher (lunch). We would love to be close to our hotel for dinner. Would also like a gourmet sandwich shop for one of our lunches. Thank you!

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  1. I would go to Cook for dinner instead of Tra Vigne (which has slipped SIGNIFICANTLY in the past several years). Farmstead and Terra and also exceptional choices, although I would take Terra over Farmstead (and Cook over Farmstead).

    Others will recommend Cindy's Backstreet and her new restaurant, Brassicas, is quite interesting with a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-flair. That might be better suited to an exceptional lunch.

    Taylor's is just a big, expensive burger joint; for that kind of money, I would recommend Cindy's or CIA.

    A last thought is that you are not far from Calistoa and JoLe is worth considering.

    3 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Any thoughts on vineyards to visit in the St. Helena and Calistoga area? I currently have a reservation for a library tasting at Chateau Montelena. Thanks!

      1. re: jranen

        Montelena specializes in Chardonnay which is not my thing at all, but I know many who greatly appreciate it. If you like Chards, you should also go to Rombauer.

        I like mountain wineries and would recommend Pride, Smith Madrone (they are on Spring Mountain), and anything on Howell Mountain (all require reservations).

      2. re: CarrieWas218

        Gott's was Taylor's.*
        Sandwiches at Dean and Deluca or Sunshine Foods.

        *Istanbul was Constantinople.

      3. Good advice from Carrie, I also vote for Cook and JoLe. Our recent dinners there in December were excellent.

        1. Cook is definitely a better meal than Tra Vigne these days. There is no such thing as a gourmet sandwich shop in the Napa Valley. Even the passable Oakville Grocery is closed for renovations right now.

          For lunch or brunch try La Condessa, which does some nice things with Mexican-inspired food (but is by no means a Mexican restaurant, ie don't expect tacos and burritos). For my money La Condessa has the best brunch/lunch in Saint Helena.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Capone

            Thanks everyone for the helpful and consistent advice.

            1. re: jranen

              In Napa if you are down that way is The Oxbow Market which has a wonderful cheese shop and right around the corner from this market you can find fresh olives and dried sausage. Model Bakery (right in St. Helena) has wonderful bread and good sandwiches. We packed these and brought them to vineyards which have picnic areas (Andretti/Monticello) and that might do for a "gourmet sandwich" fix.

              Cook was an excellent dinner and they are also open for lunch. Have fun!

              1. re: rainbow2

                Model Bakery is also right around the corner from the Oxbow Cheese Store.

          2. I am in Napa all of the time, and I'm afraid that Cook is very hit-or-miss. I have not been to Tra Vigne in a while. The best new restaurant in St. Helena is a high-end Mexican spot called Condesa. Really amazing. I also think something new is opening in the old Martini House location--next month maybe? Gotts (Taylors) is better than ever. Solage in Calistoga (not that far) is really really good. Model Bakery is a bit disappointing for reasons of selection..I have not been to Farmstead yet, but want to go. Yountville is always fun--Bouchon has great atmosphere.

            PRESS is really REALLY good for steak and roasted chicken. That would be one of my top picks, actually!

            3 Replies
            1. re: soavegirl

              >>> Model Bakery is a bit disappointing for reasons of selection

              What does that mean?

              1. re: rworange

                Living in Napa, I can say that Model Bakery's selection is not always consistent. Everyone raves about the brioche English muffins, but those consistently sell out by noon. Most of their best products are gone early in the day and for many people who want to go there early evening to supplement a "picnic dinner," there is very little left of quality.

              2. re: soavegirl

                I went to La Condessa recently, but would say that you have to be selective in what you order. The guac and salsa combo was meh, and not necessarily worth the $14 price tag. Same with the specialty cocktail (dont remember the name) that we ordered, the glass was half filled with foam. On the hand, the pork belly sandwich was excellent, right ratio of fat vs. lean, with carmelization, on a ciabatta roll with side salad and home made chips. The fish taco was teeny.