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For romance - Bottega or Ad Hoc in Yountville?

  • t

Trying to decide between Bottega or Ad Hoc for a November dinner in Yountville.

Only in town two nights.

Reservations at Bistro Don Giovanni the other night, for whatever that's worth.

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  1. If you are going to Bistro Don Giovanni, why would you want another Cal-Italian like Bottega?

    And between Bottega or Ad Hoc, I would say that neither are especially romantic... Bottega is dark and Ad Hoc is family style.

    Consider hitting Meadowood for a glass of sparkling at sunset for romance THEN go to dinner.

    For a romantic setting, I'd got for Bistro Jeanty (akin to a French bistro) in Yountville or Terra in St. Helena. Some might suggest Bouchon, but I'm a bit off their food lately.

    8 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Thanks, Carrie. I rethought it after I posted and read some more reviews. I think I was hungry for pasta when I posted that.

      What about Redd for romance? I saw it listed in Travel and Leisure as a romantic spot, but I looked at the pictures of the interior and it didn't give off that vibe. But the menu did look wonderful and I've read great reviews here.

      The lack of romance is why Ad Hoc is losing appeal with me. Clearly the food is outstanding there. But I want a romantic vibe.

      It looked like you were posting more about romantic restaurants, but your post was cut off. Was there more you were going to say?

      Thanks!

      1. re: taz99

        I wouldn't call Redd romantic if your definition of romantic is a hushed atmosphere with dim lighting lots of corners/crannies. They do have an outside patio but in November, the odds aren't good that you'll want to sit outside at night.

        It's not bar scene with side restaurant loud, but it is not quiet; it may have more of an active/bustling type vibe than what you are looking for.

        1. re: goldangl95

          When I think romantic, I think of a place where you can easily hold a conversation with your dinner partner, with a lot of soft lights and comfortable seating. I'm a bit cheesy romantic, so if there's an outdoor patio with heaters or a firepit, and lot of twinkle lights, all the better.

          For what it's worth, I live in Kentucky, where the outdoor temps will be in the 30's at night in November. So my blood is thicker than a Napa local resident would have. I used to live in Phoenix and Los Angeles and when I visit those places in November, I'm still perfectly comfortable sitting outdoors as long as there is a nearby heater or fireplace. So a restaurant that has an outdoor seating area, even in November, might be just right. I won't sit outdoors if it's below, say, 55 degrees, but down to that and I'd be fine.

          1. re: taz99

            Got it. It's not so much the temp as the odds of rain in November. So I think the outdoor patio would work well for you, but if it does rain, the inside areas are probably a little more bustling/modern/city-like than you may want.

            1. re: taz99

              Napa is nothing like LA or Phoenix at night. The temp drops quickly at dusk and it's very likely be under 55 degrees in November.

              1. re: emily

                okay, thanks! I didn't realize.

          2. re: taz99

            Ah, Taz... I think I was just starting typing the same thing over. Edited!

            Like others have said, Redd *can* be romantic for its food but probably not what you are looking for.

            I haven't been since a chef change, but the restaurant at Domaine Chandon - L'Etoile - can be very romantic as well. Just don't know how the food is lately.

            If price were no object, I'd say head to Meadowood and just have appetizers (or a full meal!) on the terrace with sparkling wine. That is probably the most romantic spot in the valley.

          3. re: CarrieWas218

            None of the restaurants you have listed are romantic.

            The patio at Bistro Jeanty is Euro-romantic, with its arbor and flower boxes. Nice feel.

            The outdoor dining room at BDG, next to the fireplace, is a bit romantic.

            Terra is romantic with its stone walls and mullioned windows and excellent food,
            as CarrieWas218 says.

            Redd is nowhere near romantic, but the food is good.

            Bottega is neither romantic nor is the food exemplary.

            But the entire Napa Valley is romantic. Vineyards are romantic. Drinking wine is romantic.
            The scenery is romantic. Wineries can be romantic. That may have to get you by.

          4. I love sitting outside at Bottega. I had wonderfully romantic day in the valley. Before an early dinner at Bottega we had a glass of champagne at Auberge du soleil. The views there are hard to beat.

            11 Replies
            1. re: hannah

              +1 for Auberge, outside patio table overlooking the valley. Food is very solid, a top pick from our Napa visit last month, which also included Redd..

              1. re: buoncibo

                The terrace at Auberge is romantic, but I'd never call the food solid compared to the rest of the valley offerings or for the price charged. I do agree Redd is solid.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  With all due respect, I strongly disagree about the quality of food at Auberge, at least on the evening we recently went. Our dinner included: first course of day boat scallops w/white corn, snap peas, crispy onions and vanilla oil (chef made this for us special- it's on their lunch menu, I believe), 2nd course of light-as-a-feather potato gnocci w/wild mushrooms, pea shoots, parmesan nage and black summer truffles and main of bacon wrapped perfectly cooked and meltingly tender veal w/sauteed figs, crispy polenta, orange marcarpone and red wine vinaigrette. Quality, preparation and service were all outstanding, and that doesn't take into account the romance factor. I do agree to your point on the price, it was more than dinner the next evening at Redd, yet also more memorable.

                  1. re: buoncibo

                    Sounds like a lovely meal. But I still cannot say Auberge is solid. It's inconsistent, and, sadly, for most of 20 years, has never been on its game. The restaurant has gone through years of barely passable food, yet has charged high prices, so if there's been an improvement in quality, it's only of late. It's a cocktails-only place for me. Thanks for the specifics on your dishes.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      Hmmmm, your characterization of "barely passable food" stumps me and I can only assume that perhaps it goes way back? They do have a Michelin star, awarded 2 years in a row. Over the past say, 8 years, I have enjoyed lunch there a handful of times and have always left very happy, as have my dining companions. Twice the pastry chef has baked a special birthday cake, once we were staying at the hotel and the other time we were just lunch guests. This last trip the chef prepared two courses especially for us, which I had arranged in advance. This was the first time for dinner and I have to say, their star is well deserved. And IIRC, the price for 3 courses is $98, certainly not outrageous for the quality and setting.

                      1. re: buoncibo

                        Buoncibo - re-read what Miss ML has said: It (the restaurant) as "gone through years of barely passable food." And those of us that live in the valley has had to experience the wild inconsistencies. I, myself, had a completely forgettable meal there last spring, so - no - it does not go "way back."

                        They are on a constant exploration and attempt to compete with the French Laundry and, in doing so, often experiment with new ingredients and techniques.

                        They know when the Michelin judges are in town and it is easy to pull out the consistently good dishes at that time. But for the rest of the year, it is a crap-shoot of hits and misses. Granted, it CAN be consistently good but it can also be "barely passable" as many of us have experienced.

                        1. re: buoncibo

                          I believe that your special meals at Auberge are a result of your being a guest there and your pre-arranging special items with the chef. This puts the staff on notice to treat you with a greater level of care.

                          This is in contrast to the great unwashed, who do not receive special treatment or special dishes, and for whom dining at Auberge results in a major dent in the wallet for only a so-so meal. Consider yourself lucky.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            "great unwashed who do not receive special treatment?" Huh? As I stated, only one out of 6 meals was as a hotel guest, the other 5 were not, including when they baked a custom birthday cake for our party when we were merely lunch guests. Sorry for your bad experiences over the years, yet, that does not change the fact that for others, listing them as a solid recommendation has been due to exactly what we have experienced. And I doubt that luck could have been with us all of those times.

                            1. re: buoncibo

                              I would say that putting in special requests in advance to the chef (e.g. two courses just for you) definitely flags you for a restaurant. It's not like you just wandered in off the street.

                              That being said, Auberge Du Soleil has a beautiful view - and people throughout the Bay Area love to go there, take in the view, have drinks and eat. Among my friends, and among Yelp reviews, the place is treasured.

                              What does that mean? It means that if you are looking for a special occasion place with atmosphere to blow you away, excellent service with decent quality food. Auberge du Soleil may be a great bet.

                              Chowhounders tend to place food first and the rest as secondary - resulting in harsh criticisms of places that appear to "coast" on view/reputation (the board loves to hate on places such as Gary Danko for example).

                              So, to the OP, take our views and criticisms and decide what you want. If you want excellent food, and a view you will pay up through nose (as you would anywhere in the world - good view usually either means poor food or ridiculously expensive food) and Meadowood is probably the best rec on this thread so far for that. Bistro Jeanty would be the best rec euro-cozy nostalgia type atmosphere with good food.

                              If the food isn't as important to you, more options will open up including Auberge Du Soleil.

                              1. re: buoncibo

                                I must say that the restaurant at Auberge is a complete surprise because it is so far below the calibre of the hotel. Auberge du Soleil is a Relais & Chateau hotel, so you'd think the restaurant would be in keeping with the quality of the hotel.

                                It is not. It's a huge disappointment. The view is the great draw here. The food, no.

                                So sorry, buoncibo, we will disagree till the cows come home about Auberge's solidness. I am pleased you have dined well there, and that your special requests and chef surprises created some memorable meals.

                                My experience of twenty years with the restaurant is different from yours, and also valid, including one recent $350 meal for two people that was below average.

                                The price/flavor ratio is way off for the restaurant. High prices but so-so food.

                                We Napa Valley locals do talk among ourselves about where to go for good food, and Auberge never makes any list, or, more to the point, any short list. So I stand by my opinion.

                                Go to Auberge for the cocktails, the view, a light lunch on the terrace. Take a pass on everything else.

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  thanks, everyone. I appreciate the insight/advice. I wrote a restaurant column for my own town for many years, so I know how subjective opinions can be. I research and read and assess based on what I read from others, and what I know I like. So these types of threads are invaluable to show me what matters to others.

                                  I did have my friend who suggested Auberge in the first place, also say that he loved the dessert sampler tray in particular.

                2. I would suggest Bistro Jeanty, and ask for the table in front of the fireplace. Would be very cozy in November!

                  1. Depending on what you definition of romantic is I'll also throw solage in, in calistoga. The grounds are really beautiful and I really enjoyed the food there.