3 nights in Napa (foodie trip first wine secondary)
French Laundry if we can get in for dinner one night.
We're staying at Auberge du Soleil and will eat there one of the evenings.
The following list we have selected (for breakfast lunch or dinner) please let us know what you think and what meal we should have at each place.
Also looking for biodynamic wineries (we like pinots) thinking of:
robert sinskey vineyards
My two cents on some of the wineries you listed --
Sinskey is definitely worth a stop, excellent pinot's and a good tasting experience as they serve a nice plate of snacks/small bites. No reseravtion needed which is nice.
Frog's Leap is great as well, awesome tour, very fun atmosphere. Don't believe they produce a Pinot Noir but the other wines were tasty.You do need to book an appointment with them ahead of time.
My sister's family went to Ehlers with an appointment arranged by a distributor. They enjoyed it then the Ehlers folks recommended a small winery behind them, up the road -- Allora. The family loved Allora so much that they joined the wine club and we were invited to their release party last October. The property was lovely, the wine was very nice and it made the trip.
We go twice a year, several days at a time. No experience with Farmhouse or Farmstead, I'm afraid. Others here can give you tips on those two.
I prefer Auberge for lunch. The view is stunning on a nice day. At night you won't see anything. Of course, that's assuming there is room on the patio (only 4 tables) and it's warm enough to sit outside, LOL.
I've eaten at Market and Redd and wouldn't go out of my way to return to either one. OK but not great. We'd rank Market over Redd; Market is very similar to Mustards in the large portion/over the top thrust, but the ingredients are good quality and what they do is better executed than Mustards, Redd, Brix, or Giovanni. Because of the large portion size you can split salads and even entrees at Market, making it a reasonable cost that's hard to find in the Napa Valley.
Better than Market or Redd is Bottega altho their salads always seem a little tired. But the meat and pastas are very well handled at both lunch and dinner. The goat milk panna cotta is lovely. We appreciate their consistency, not easy to do when a zillion busloads of tourists are showing up every year.
Bouchon is wonderful when "up" as is La Toque, but both suffer from erraticness and when they are "down" they are a real waste of $$$.
Ca'Momi is more our style: didn't care for the charcuterie and their crowded tables drive us nuts, but the sweetbreads, oxtail, and baccala were divine, as well as those lovely pastries.
I've had people here diss me for recommending Etoile @Domaine Chandon, but we loved it during a lunch last year. If you can't get into TFL and don't want to risk Meadowood, you could try Etoile. That has been the best meal we've had since La Bourgogne/SF closed thirty years ago...but then, we're suckers for French food, even over Italian (smile).
Hope the weather is good when you go, since you didn't mention when you're coming. Be aware that the winds can be very cool indeed, even gusty and chilly, all the way through mid-May, even on a beautiful sunny day. Layer, layer, layer - that's our mantra in Northern CA!
We will be there in August.
Good call regarding Auberge for lunch. Done.
I am still intrigued by Market as it has such consistently high reviews.
Bouchon is good. Went there last trip so won't need to go back.
I will look into Etoile as well. Thank you for that recommendation and your time!
Okay, something to keep in mind...
August is five months away and in the Bay Area, *TONS* can happen in the restaurant industry - namely, chef movement and whatnot - so don't chisel your restaurants in stone right now.
Torc just opened and is getting mixed reviews. Over the years, I have both loved and hated Brix. Same with Bouchon.
Get a framework now, but come back to this thread in July to firm things up.
I wouldn't diss a rec for Etoile. We, too, had a great lunch there last year. We like Redd better, it would seem. Our experience at Bottega last year though, service-wise, was awful. Almost two hours, two courses, no offer for dessert/coffee/dessert wine. Mentioned issue on way out and they didn't seem to care.
Sinskey is a very sold choice for a visit.
Good to know about Bottega. We haven't been back in over 18 months so things definitely do change!
We had just heard so much about Redd, but our meal was very poor there. The risotto had so much fake black truffle oil that over 10 minutes after I finished it, I realized I could still taste it in my mouth...and it wasn't pleasant. The chanterelles in the risotto were tasteless, unlike the chanterelles Etoile served the very next day.
The pork belly was way too sweet for us. Even my spouse, who has a super sweet tooth, admitted the caramel belonged in very tiny quantities over a very large bowl of white rice. The pork was thin-sliced and griddled into chewy bacon, which is not how I like my pork belly.
Spouse's leek soup was over the top rich, and that's saying something from people who stock their frig with Irish butter and super-heavy organic whipping cream on a weekly basis. We love rich food, but there is a point over which it obscures flavors, and Redd went over that line.
It was topped by our very nice waitress saying to me, in all earnestness, "Oh, all our cheese are semi-soft - except for the ones that are harder!" Since she was able to describe all the available cheeses accurately (even the hard cheeses, LOL), she had clearly tried them. But that line just capped a meal in which every dish was off-balance to our taste.
I'm willing to believe that it could have been that particular day for the kitchen to be "off". It really wouldn't have taken much for each of those dishes to be wonderful. But there's so many restaurants in the Bay Area to try, as we all know a new place only has one chance to impress. Redd flubbed three of three dishes, so we went on to the 'next on the list', so to speak.
NOTE to OP: August is a particularly harrowing month in Napa. It's the biggest influx of tourists and our experience has been that even weekdays are crowded. Weekends are snarl-inducing messes. Travel time between places is definitely longer than off season (mid-Oct to mid-May).
The service tends to suffer as well because there are a lot of waitstaff hired only for the high season. The stress of the crowds means they really don't have a lot of time to chat.
I'm not saying you won't have a good experience, just that you need to be aware of what you're going to be facing. Napa is an entirely different place in the off-season, compared to July/August.
And you don't need to worry as much about layers, because it's probably going to be hot. Nights cool down to pleasant, though.
Farmhouse Inn (while supposedly lovely, I haven't been) is not in Napa. It is in Sonoma County, west of Healdsburg. That is a significant distance to drive.
I would suggest Fremont Dinner for breakfast or lunch .. Or Ad Hoc picnic lunch ... I would also add R+D Kitchen and or Rutherford Grill for lunch .. Biggest advantage to those are no cork fee ..Keep in mind that they are of the same ownership group so I would only choose one ...I would add Pine Ridge to list your list of wines .. I would strongly suggest a driving service like BeMYDD.. Unlike a limo style service , they drive your car with the same professionalism and at a rate of 17.50 an hour I believe ..
- Had lunch at Auberge du Soleil a few years ago and it was fantastic.
- Farmhouse Inn was a very quaint setting, almost like being in someone's older house. Service was great, though I don't feel like the food really stood out to me.
- Redd's cocktails are at least as good as the food. Much more upscale California chic feel than most stuff in Napa/Sonoma.
- I'd recommend Terra in St. Helena. Such a good place.
- Others in Napa that I like: Bouchon, Ad Hoc, and Bottega, all in Yountville.
May be hard to find many Pinot wineries in Napa. If you hop over the hill to Sonoma, you'll find more Pinot Noir. Sinskey's was pretty good, I don't think Frog's Leap has one. That being said, we're on FL's wine club, mostly because the tasting setting is so nice. Wish our house was just like it :).
Some other winery recs here: http://hiplist.com/jack#napa
Personally, my choice would be Meadowood Restaurant (not grill!) over French Laundry any day. Both have exemplary service, but meadowood is so much more beautiful, and roomy, plus I think the food is better, as well.
More affordable would be Morimoto (also a beautiful restaurant) and Zuzu for great tapas.
Careful not to confuse farmhouse inn in forestville (well deserved Michelin 1star) with farmshop (Marin) or farmstead in st Helena.
Jarvis winery is beautiful with a great tasting & tour - well worth the $
Regarding breakfast, skip Fremont diner in favor of BoonFly cafe - long wait on weekends but you can have a cocktail while you wait - you will be way more satisfied.
If you're around Calistoga, Solbar is an excellent restaurant - their spa menu is as good or better than their regular menu, not your typical rabbit food at all.
Pursuant to this recommendation, Michael Bauer, food critic at the SF Chronicle, did a full photo shoot of his recent meal at Restaurant @Meadowood, which might be very helpful to the OP even though the food will be very different in summer than it is now:
If you do chose it over TFL, as NapaFoodie said be very careful not to confuse The Grill @Meadowood, which is their casual restaurant and has a different chef, with The Restaurant @Meadowood. These are the full "true names" so you can see it's easy to mix up the two.
They share the same building, but the Grill is on the ground floor and the Restaurant is on the upper floor. Be aware it is a bit of a drive out of St. Helena, not long but over narrow country roads with a gatehouse guarding the resort.