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

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  • debbo May 11, 2013 10:25 PM
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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. $100 per person including wine pairings?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

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

      1. re: debbo

        Commonwealth in SF is $105 with wine pairing.

        http://www.commonwealthsf.com/menus/t...

        Commis in Oakland is $120.

        http://www.commisrestaurant.com/menu.php

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

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

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

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/898348

      6 Replies
      1. re: PolarBear

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

        1. re: debbo

          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

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

            1. re: debbo

              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

                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

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

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

        2. 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

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

            1. re: debbo

              Yep...

              Farm at Carneros
              Etoile
              Meadowood
              La Toque
              Morimoto

          2. 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

              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

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

                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  Thank you. I will check it out.

            2. 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).

              http://www.adhocrestaurant.com/

              5 Replies
              1. re: ommmar

                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

                  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

                  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

                    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

                      I still miss Ubuntu....

                      :-(

                3. 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

                    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. 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

                      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

                        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...