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Bistro Jeanty ONE STAR? [Yountville]

After many years overseas one of my treks UP was to Napa Valley was for lunch at bistro jeanty- Went thru open doors only to be told they were not open for 10 minutes and would not let us sit, even on the patio. Got home to find the sf chronicle's Bauer had given them a 1-star for food. Is this just the way things are, or did Mike and I have aberrant experiences?

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  1. We were just there in May and had a great experience. We've been four or five times and only once had anything close to marginal service. One somewhat grumpy waiter a few years ago. Never had a problem with the food, either. So I would think it an aberrant experience. Its far from the best place in Yountville but in my experience it has been very good and dependable.

    16 Replies
    1. re: HoosierFoodie

      thank goodness for your reply, HF. i've missed Jeanty's food soooooo much since Jeanty @ Jack's closed in the City. Glad to hear the Yountville place is still going strong. I really wish he'd come back to San Francisco....

      1. re: mariacarmen

        moi aussi... i really miss Jeanty @ jack's.

      2. re: HoosierFoodie

        I personally think Bauer has something against Philippe Jeanty as I have never had anything but exceptional service and food. One of my favorite restaurants in Yountville...

        1. re: CarrieWas218

          There's something to this -- a personal falling out between the two, I surmise from industry rumbles, and reading between many lines. Bauer used to be a huge fan of Phillippe Jeanty.

          Carrie, want to meet there for lunch or...?? Write me at the email on my profile. Thanks.

          1. re: CarrieWas218

            I think Bauer's correct that the food doesn't change with the season, but that's a problem with the Web site copy, not the food.

            Doesn't the puff pastry on top of the tomato soup always get soggy?

            People who don't like their food seasoned the way they do in Paris should go elsewhere.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              the puff pastry doesn't actually touch the soup, from what i recall. it's fabulous.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Having a traditional French bistro in Yountville makes as much sense as having one in Rome. Maybe less, because the ratio of tourists to locals (who might enjoy a change of pace) is probably higher in Yountville.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  *scratches his head*

                  Why would it be senseless to have a French bistro in either of those places? Especially in the case of Yountville, a city whose most celebrated restaurant is also essentially French.

                  1. re: dunstable

                    I didn't say "senseless" -- there's a wide range of things making sense. Yountville is where tourists go to experience California wine country cuisine. There's no point in going there and eating at a traditional French bistro that could be anywhere unless you are a local and want a change of pace from your "native" cuisine.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      It's a very anti-Chowhoundish additude, but tourists of some nationalities seek out their own cuisines when traveling or living abroad. In tourist areas, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean restaurants can get a nice extra revenue stream if they hook into the tour-bus circuit or get into foreign travel guides such as Michelin (Jeanty formerly had one star and is currently Bib Gourmand).

                      What is California wine country cuisine but variations on French and/or Italian cuisine, anyway? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but if you grew up in France or Italy, after a few days of the Californicated stuff even an open-minded adventurous eater might be pining for the real thing.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Ha, that happened to a good friend of mine in his youth. As a teenager, he went to France with his parents and sister. To his and his sister's great horror, the parents packed a rice cooker, with the intention of making Korean food in their hotel room. Every day. "Why the hell did we come all the way to France if we're going to eat homemade Korean food every day!" they complained. It took almost a week before the parents relented, by which point the parents had realized that those French people aren't shabby at cooking.

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Seemed like maybe half the customers were French last time I was there. It's been in business for 15 years, so he's doing something right.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      As there undoubtedly would be in a French bistro in Rome.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Have you been there, Ruth? Bistro Jeanty is my favorite place in Napa Valley. Wonderful food, lovely setting, good to great service. I don't know what's to not like.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Yes, I've been there. I try not to bash places I don't have personal experience with. And anyway, it's not so much that I don't like Bistro Jeanty (although I wasn't crazy about it), as that I think it's missing the point for a *visitor* to California -- and especially to the wine country -- to eat traditional French food (just as it would be for a visitor to Rome to eat French food). Locals, have at it!

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          49% of visitors to Napa are from California, only 7.5% are from other countries. For me, Jeanty's more interesting than the California cuisine that dominates the Napa area, since I can get that at home.

                          http://www.legendarynapavalley.com/do...

              2. Why would you be upset if you were told they werent open yet? Would you go into a grocery store and say, "I just want to fill up my cart until you are open"??? Why is a restaurant/winery different than any other business?

                22 Replies
                1. re: NVNative

                  Usually grocery stores don't unlock the doors until they are open. According to the OP the door to the restaurant was open, so I can see how an awkward situation resulted.

                  1. re: bigwheel042

                    I work in the industry and our owner prefers we keep the door unlocked so guests feel welcome to come in and make reservations, ask questions or look at the menu. To discredit a restaurant because of this is silly in my opinion.

                    1. re: NVNative

                      They made it clear that we were not going to be given a menu, allowed to ask questions, anything. Doors open, customers NOT WELCOME

                      1. re: demitasse04

                        I'm sorry this happened to you, but it sounds like they were busy setting up and didn't have time to speak with you. Yes, the folks could have been more cordial, but they were busy. No need to bad-mouth the resto for this. Had you eaten there and didn't like the food, that'd be another thing.

                        I personally love the tomato soup with the puff pastry dome, the moules frites with the grilled baguette, the smoked trout salad, the steak tartare, the tarte tatin, the bearnaise sauce you can order on the side. I love the patio. I think it's a great spot. The bad review appears, at least to me, to be a personal thing between Bauer and Jeanty -- love gone bad. I'll be back again and again -- it's a soul-satisfying place for me.

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          ^^^^ What Maria Lorraine said ^^^^

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Same here -- recent lunch of sardines, pigs feet salad, nicoise, and mussels was terrific, as was the service...

                            1. re: Sarah

                              i miss that pigs feet salad like nobody's business!

                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                My absolute favorite. I usually have one there and then get one to go!!

                                1. re: Sarah

                                  and the lamb's tongue salad.....

                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                    ah...the lamb's tongue was so tasty...

                            2. re: maria lorraine

                              Bad-mouthing the restaurant while they were busy? There were four people standing around when we walked in; when we we around outside there were five kitchen guys eating on the patio. I have on several occasions been offered a glass of water, a look at the menu, even a glass of wine by other restaurants while waiting the 5 or 20 minutes before opening.

                              1. re: demitasse04

                                So sad ... do what the folks on this site do -- vote with your feet... you did leave without eating?

                                1. re: Sarah

                                  sounds like the early arrival interrupted staff meal?

                                  1. re: Sarah

                                    We walked the block over to Bouchon

                                  2. re: demitasse04

                                    They probably could not legally have offered you a glass of wine or alcohol in any form before they were officially open. Many restaurants also have insurance regulations that do not allow patrons in the resto before opening. Had the restaurant personnel the time or presence of mind to explain that to you cordially, you probably would not still be holding onto this slight.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      did you even read the whole post? "a GLASS OF WATER, A LOOK AT THE MENU, even a glass of wine "

                                      1. re: demitasse04

                                        Of course, and I responded.

                                        Restaurants, especially in Napa Valley, have extremely strict guidelines on when they can and cannot offer someone a glass of wine. They risk fines and losing their license if they don't follow the law. You arrived before opening; they cannot legally offer you wine then.

                                        Restaurants here (and presumably elsewhere) usually also have insurance regulations that do not allow patrons inside the restaurant before opening either. The restaurant runs a liability risk if you are inside while tables and chairs are still being set up, cleaning equipment is being put away or used, or other restaurant setup actions are happening.

                                        If the employees who will be fixing and serving to you your meal are on break and having their "family meal" while you wished to be seated or given a menu or glass of water or wine, the resto is not open yet.

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          Well said, Ms. Maria Lorraine!

                                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                                            Was it Frank Loesser (The Most Happy Fella) or Rogers and Hammerstein(Oklahoma) that wrote "Napa Valley Folks Should Stick Together"?

                                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                                              Maria Lorraine's very informative posts are always based on solid facts. Yet another example of this.

                                            2. re: maria lorraine

                                              (Not responding specifically to maria lorraine, but to this subthread in general.)

                                              Sorry to interrupt the chowtalk, but since all of you have described your experiences and opinions, along with the relevant issues of restaurant protocol/legalities, it's time to move on and shift the talk back to about where to find delicious food.

                                      2. re: maria lorraine

                                        Bistro Jeanty is one place that's been on my "to do " list for a long time, but I've never done more than walk through. This thread will be the impetus I need to get there soon.