Suggestions for 2 dinners in Napa area plus The French Laundry
Four of us are traveling to the Napa area for 3 nights. We are eating at The French Laundry the second night, and so we're looking for recommendations for the first night and the third night. I'm thinking that because we're going to be having such a decadent multi-course meal at TFL, we probably won't want to have another long multi-course meal. Here is the list that we've come up with so far:
Redd, Morimoto, Ad Hoc (another Thomas Keller so maybe not?), Bottega, Bistro Jeanty, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, Restaurant at Meadowood, Cyrus
Are any of these too similar to TFL? Which two would you recommend as good counterpoints to TFL?
For lunch, one day we were thinking of getting together a picnic from the Oxbow Market. I'm not sure of the other day. Maybe Bouchon Bakery - do they have lunchtime items or is strictly a sweets only kind of place?
Also, someone had mentioned that drinks on the terrace at auberge du soleil at sunset is great - is it worth making the trip? We're going to be staying in Yountville.
I think it might be nice to do a different cuisine other than French/California on the other nights just for the contrast. When we went to TFL a few years ago, we ate at Bottega (Italian) and Zuzu (Spanish) the other nights. Morimoto is also great and you can order a la carte instead of the tasting menu. Sometimes it's nice to have comfort food (whichever cuisine works for you) the day after a long tasting menu.
Oxbow Market is a great idea for a picnic..you can get bread, cheese, charcuterie (love the Fatted Calf!) all in one shot. If you try to get enough variety, you may possibly have enough for lunch 2 days in a row. I thought Bouchon Bakery has started offering pizzas too, but they definitely have sandwiches and salads. Gott's is also a decent lunch option especially if you would like something hearty (like a burger).
We just returned from Napa. Ate at Bistro Jeanty, Bottega, Redd Wood, and La Toque, and enjoyed our meals at all 4. I will try to post more detailed reviews later but, if you are looking for a contrast to TLF, I'd recommend either Bistro Jeanty or Redd Wood. As others have stated, BJ serves excellent renditions of classic French bistro cuisine. If you like such fare -- cassolet, coque au vin, steak frite, etc. -- then I recommend it highly. Redd Wood is more casual fare, including very creative wood-fired pizzas.
I just ate at Ad Hoc on Friday night. Execution was poor, service not so good either, so while I have loved it in the past, based on this most recent visit, I would consider something else. Had a great meal at Bottega on Saturday night and would recommend it highly. I was not expecting to be as impressed as I was. I didn't find it heavy at all. My gnocchi with spring vegetables was light and refreshing and my husband's giant raviolo with egg yolk, while rich, was not too large a dish. Morimoto would be another place to consider just because I don't really think there is much of a Japanese influence in TFL (we were there on Sunday) and I think it would be a nice counterpoint of flavors to TFL. If you want to do something more casual, Oenetri is great and I liked Redd Wood also. I also would pick Bouchon over Jeanty - although both are good, if you want a French bistro.
How about La Condesa for well executed Mexican food? That would be a nice counterpoint to TFL.
The best part of Morimoto is a tasting menu so that might feel a little too similar to French Laundry in its small, tasty courses.
Personally, I would recommend JoLe in Calistoga for one night and perhaps Redd another night.
Other considerations could include Brassicas, Cook, Oenetri, or Bouchon. I found Bottega a bit on the heavy side and prefer Don Giovanni.
Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen is a favorite but it is far more casual than than TFL, I really enjoyed our most recent meal at Morimoto. Ad Hoc didn't wow but that's not it's goal. I really like Cook in St. Helena, 15 minutes from downtown Yountville. It's a lower price point but I liked it better than the food than Bouchon.
Oxbow Market is a great with The Fatted Calf.
Would not do Meadowood (long tasting menu), Cyrus (not in Napa and quite a drive).
Auberge Du Soleil is not far from Yountville at all. But it depends on what your other activities are for the day. If you are winetasting around there - I'd say go. If you are not within a couple of miles, I'd say skip.