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Is there such a thing as a poor man's French Laundry in Napa?

debbo May 11, 2013 10:25 PM

Have participated in chef's tastings with wine pairings many times, but want to stay close to my $100 per person budget. Maybe fewer courses? A new chef who hasn't been discovered by the masses? Lesser known restaurant? All suggestions will be much appreciated as I research this special birthday/anniversary dinner to take place on August 2.

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: debbo May 12, 2013 08:18 AM

    $100 per person including wine pairings?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      debbo RE: Robert Lauriston May 12, 2013 11:26 AM

      Yes, I could go higher if need be, but would like to find one for less.

      1. re: debbo
        Robert Lauriston RE: debbo May 12, 2013 12:07 PM

        Commonwealth in SF is $105 with wine pairing.


        Commis in Oakland is $120.


        If there's anything similar in that price in Napa, I haven't heard of it.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          debbo RE: Robert Lauriston May 13, 2013 07:04 AM

          Thank you, Robert. Do you know of anything in Napa? We're staying just a short walk to town and would enjoy that very much.

    2. PolarBear RE: debbo May 12, 2013 09:33 AM

      Since you didn't specify any geographic limits .... from the CA board:


      6 Replies
      1. re: PolarBear
        debbo RE: PolarBear May 12, 2013 11:25 AM

        Napa. We are staying in a cottage less than a mile from the center of town.

        1. re: debbo
          Robert Lauriston RE: debbo May 15, 2013 07:56 AM

          Have you stayed in the city of Napa before? The city and developers have spent a lot trying to make the place a tourist destination, but it's got more in common with Fairfield than it does with Yountville or Oakville.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            debbo RE: Robert Lauriston May 15, 2013 09:45 AM

            No, Robert, this trip is a gift from my daughters. They have planned it except for our big dinner.

            1. re: debbo
              CarrieWas218 RE: debbo May 15, 2013 09:56 AM

              Give yourself an afternoon to wander downtown Napa - it has a lot going for it now...

              My two favorite tasting rooms are Backstreet Wines and Vintner's Collective (the latter specializes in boutique wineries that are too small to have their own tasting facilities, but are producing amazing juice).

              Some fun lunchtime eats include Oxbow Market, Bistro Sabor, Morimoto (for the $25 Bento Box only), and Bounty Hunter. There are three bakeries (Model, Alexis, and Sweetie Pies) that all have different specialties. Annabelle's Chocolates have a Himalayan salt caramel I can't resist.

              My favorite dinner spots include Zuzu for tapas, Angele for river-side view outside enjoyment, and Grace's Table for their half-price appetizer Happy Hour.

              Lastly, consider Boon Fly in Carneros for breakfast one morning...

              1. re: CarrieWas218
                debbo RE: CarrieWas218 May 15, 2013 01:25 PM

                Thanks very much, Carrie. All sound perfect! I got addicted to the salted caramels at a small shop in Paris a couple of years ago...lol

                1. re: CarrieWas218
                  Shrinkrap RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 1, 2013 02:27 PM

                  Not sounding like the Fairfield I know. I wish. :(

                  But living in Solano is why I can afford to eat and vacation elsewhere. ;)

        2. CarrieWas218 RE: debbo May 12, 2013 05:23 PM

          I'm afraid what you are looking for doesn't really exist in Napa...

          However, you might want to consider Zuzu - for small plates, you couldn't do better and it will be a very interesting and memorable meal. (I had my birthday there last year with my family and have been dining there for over a decade). Easy to keep within your budget.

          Sadly, there are no "lesser known" restaurants in Napa.

          2 Replies
          1. re: CarrieWas218
            debbo RE: CarrieWas218 May 13, 2013 07:05 AM

            Thank you, Carrie. Any chef tastings in Napa over my budget?

            1. re: debbo
              CarrieWas218 RE: debbo May 13, 2013 10:09 AM


              Farm at Carneros
              La Toque

          2. ChefJune RE: debbo May 14, 2013 12:02 PM

            My favorite restaurant in Napa Valley is Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. It's certainly not fancy but the food is divine and in your price range. I would be thrilled to celebrate a special occasion there.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ChefJune
              Robert Lauriston RE: ChefJune May 14, 2013 01:06 PM

              I love Jeanty but its hearty old-school bistro cuisine is about as close to the the opposite of a tasting menu as you can get. And it sounds like maybe the request is for the city of Napa.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                CarrieWas218 RE: Robert Lauriston May 14, 2013 03:18 PM

                Than that would limit it to LaToque, although Farm is not far (in Carneros) and infinitely better...

                1. re: CarrieWas218
                  debbo RE: CarrieWas218 May 14, 2013 10:02 PM

                  Thank you. I will check it out.

            2. o
              ommmar RE: debbo May 20, 2013 10:24 AM

              does it have to be a tasting menu? if not just go to ad hoc--it's still a thomas keller restaurant. and the food is supposed to be fantastic (albeit probably a little on the heavier side).


              5 Replies
              1. re: ommmar
                CarrieWas218 RE: ommmar May 20, 2013 10:41 AM

                Ad Hoc is wildly inconsistent, I'm afraid - and you are subjected to whatever the menu-of-the-day is, so if you don't like any particular ingredient or course, you have no recourse to order anything else.

                Also, it is family-style and does not have the finesses or elegance of a tasting menu.

                1. re: CarrieWas218
                  vulber RE: CarrieWas218 Sep 3, 2013 01:44 PM

                  i had an incredible meal there, and everyone else i know who's gone has also had nothing but great things to say. then again, this was before dave cruz left

                2. re: ommmar
                  debbo RE: ommmar May 20, 2013 10:33 PM

                  Yes, I really want this group to enjoy a chef's tasting plus wine. They are super fun, entertaining, and educational. Thanks for your ideas.

                  1. re: debbo
                    bbulkow RE: debbo Sep 1, 2013 07:17 PM

                    I would like to be nostalgic for a moment about Ubuntu's chef's tasting, which was right around $100 (w/o wine). Stellar and long-gone.

                    1. re: bbulkow
                      CarrieWas218 RE: bbulkow Sep 1, 2013 09:54 PM

                      I still miss Ubuntu....


                3. c
                  cyssf RE: debbo May 20, 2013 11:42 AM

                  If you are limited to Napa (the city) itself, this isn't exactly a tasting menu a la French Laundry but I really enjoyed Morimoto when we were last there. If you could expand to Sonoma (ie Healdsburg) we liked Farmhouse and Madrona Manor although they may be pricier than your $100/per person range. But it could be done.

                  Ad Hoc was okay, but informal, we had their pork chops which were very rare which was okay by me but might put others off. Its a fixed menu so you have no choices.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cyssf
                    debbo RE: cyssf May 20, 2013 10:34 PM

                    I was trying to stick to Napa so we could easily walk back to our house or catch a quick cab. I may have to look elsewhere, but want to explore all my options first. Thanks for your reply.

                  2. Ashley12 RE: debbo May 20, 2013 07:11 PM

                    I recently had a fabulous dinner at Angele. I think the bill was about $160 including wine for 2 ppl.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Ashley12
                      debbo RE: Ashley12 May 20, 2013 10:35 PM

                      Thanks! $160 for 2, with wine, is well below my budget so I'll check it out. It was a chef's tasting?

                      1. re: debbo
                        Ashley12 RE: debbo May 21, 2013 06:57 AM

                        No, it wasn't a chef's tasting. But I just looked on the website and they do have a chef's tasting menu that comes in at $105 with wine. http://www.angelerestaurant.com/Dinne...

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