Only a ten minute walk from The Inn On First, a Napa Bed and Breakfast Inn, is a new restaurant that is getting a lot of buzz for its food. So last week when our friends, Guy and Christina DeMarco, were in town we joined in the fun. No reservations taken. It’s a drop in and “be social” kind of place.
Lots of small plates to choose from, really a restaurant for sharing everything on the table. The Herb Leaf Fries were just yummy for a starter as was the Dungeness Crab Toasts with sweet and sour sauce. Jamie really enjoyed the Twice Fried Brussels Sprouts (you all know I am a hater) and the Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Blood Oranges was spectacularly fun to eat with a lovely contrast of grill marks and the sweet yet slightly acidic orange. We couldn’t pass up the “Angry” Shrimp cocktail with chilies and orange, although Guy thought they were more “Mildly Pissed Off” with regard to the “heat” factor.
We all dug into and loved the Garlic and Chili Roasted Dungeness Crab with Grilled Bread and spicy aioli. Wowza! Just make sure to ask for extra napkins as this is a finger feast with forks given to each person to extract the meat. Don’t worry, they have these lovely wet towels with lemon to clean up at the end.
Also got a chance to try to the Roasted Quail with Soy Glaze, and that was just delicious. Oh, how the menu tempted us to purchase more, but beware!, these dishes creep up on you slowly and suddenly you find you simply cannot partake of another bite. I passed on dessert as I am currently/temporarily no dairy, and everything had dairy in it.
It just means another trip within the month to sample another 1/4 of the menu. I still want to try the Atlas jacks (sweet and spicy cracker jacks), the Crudo with Preserved Kumquat, the Red Curry Mussels, and the Rabbit Pot Pie. Prices range from $5 to 9$ for Snacks, $8 to $20 for small plates, and $34 to $42 for the larger platters to be shared by up to four people. Wine bar only available, by the glass and the bottle. Plenty of Vegetarian options, and I was unable to find out at the end how they manage Vegans or Gluten-free.
Seating tip: they have high tables in front with stool seating, but ask if there are any tables available in the back that are more like booths (not a lot of them) where it feels more restarauntish vs. clubby.
A ten-minute walk from The Inn On First, just off the corner of First and Main Streets, is the restaurant called Torc. The menu is eclectic European ranging from snacks (house made cured olives, or the Iberico ham toasts, and deviled eggs), to small plates (salads, soups, light pastas), to large plate entrees (lamb, beef, chicken, fish). We were fortunate to join our friends Sara and Dan, with their 11-year old son, Charlie, so there were lots of bites to be enjoyed. As Sara is gluten-free they were readily able to work with her dietary issues. It is also clearly stated on the menu that they work with vegans, vegetarians, etc. Basically, “ask and we will accommodate as best we can”- That is service!
The highlights for me were the hamachi tartare with avocado, the delicious gazpacho soup perfectly chilled and flavored, the quail with mushrooms au jus, boar ravioli in a beautiful boar broth, and silky smooth halibut that was perfectly cooked with mushrooms and squash. Why, even Charlie’s plain pasta with grated parmesan was scrumptious in its simplicity.
Prices range from $5 snacks to $10 small plates on up to $18 – $40 entrees. Plenty of wine and beer by the glass and bottle. A lovely meal with a hip-urban environment that is worthy of Napa.
Per Paul Franson, our Napa “in the know” columnist and writer has informed us that Thomas Keller’s Addendum is open for the season, only a fifteen minute drive from your favorite luxury Napa bed and breakfast inn, The Inn On First.
Addendum behind Ad Hoc in Yountville serves take-out lunches Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They also have some tables you can use for a picnic.
While fried chicken remains on the menu (our favorite item on the menu), chef Thomas Keller and the Ad Hoc team have decide to take BBQ more seriously with the recent purchase of a new Rolltisserie Smoker, which is one of 40 in the country.
Ad Hoc’s chef de cuisine Katie Hagan-Whelchel and TKRG chef de cuisine Devin Knell have spent weeks perfecting their “mop ‘n smoke” technique and BBQ recipes that will be available at Addendum throughout the year.
All meat is smoked with hickory and Napa Valley grape vines cuttings. We provide you with the picnic basket and ice packs; you fill it with your favorite BBQ items and we’ll send you to one of our great picnic spots in the valley.
A ten-minute walk from The Inn On First, a luxury lodging property in Napa, is the restaurant called Torc. It opened a few months ago and I wanted to give it awhile before tempting fate with such an eclectic menu. We shared the evening with our friends, Don and Kathy, so that meant more bites to enjoy.
Beginning with the artichoke soup with mint and lemon, I was in love with the velvety finish. The portions are not large (we had read about this beforehand) and yet when I saw what was put in front of me I appreciated that they seemed just perfect for dining on multiple courses. The Kampachi Crudo was incredible, a white fish with a citrus sauce and avocado, as was the Roasted Beets with Burrata and a Sherry-Maple glaze. Growing up on canned beets I thought I would never try them again. Since trying roasted fresh beets my heart has been changed, and Torc delivered it with gusto.
We also tried the Deviled Eggs, and the Pakora, as well as the Jamon Iberica, all great small starter appetizers for the meal. Jamie had read about the Coconut Rice and the flavor on that dish was subtle and fun to eat. We also enjoyed the Pork with the Cheddar Grits and a Buccatini Pasta with a Lamb Bolognese. We enjoyed all of it. Prices for apps and sides run $5 to $15, and the entrees are from $14 to $29.
Torc is willing to accommodate changes to dishes to present Vegans, Vegetarians, and Gluten-Free guests. That is something not every restaurant in Napa offers. The menu changes seasonally so I am looking forward to some really great meals in the future.
Only a 10-minute walk from The Inn On First, a provider of romantic lodging in Napa, is a restaurant called Fish Story. They opened two years ago and chose to follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium lists for sustainable fish that are good for dining. It was good but I could make almost everything on the menu at home; and when I want to eat out I generally look for chefs that will teach me, or tantalize my palate, or offer me things I would never do at home.
When the new chef came one month ago we were intrigued by the new menu. Celebrating our 20th anniversary of our first date we decided to give the restaurant a try. I texted a friend immediately after dinner: “Just go!” Everything we had was delicious.
Jamie started with the tuna tartare with sourdough crisps and balsamic vinegar glee with a violet mustard. Every bite was incredibly wonderful with little bursts of the gelee that would shine through the tartare. I was tempted by the cold green garlic soup that was light, refreshing, and creamy goodness in a bowl. For a main course Jamie ordered the Lobster “pot au feu”, a fish stew with a large lobster tail in the center, mussels, clams, and a luscious sauce to be sopped up with the hot bread they bring to table. I ordered the sturgeon and it was perfectly cooked, a bit meaty and every bite tender, with this bed of leeks underneath that was a great complement to the fish as well as wild escargot bites that were incredibly tender. I didn’t want my meal to end.
For dessert we enjoyed the soft vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and it was a perfect ending to a delightful meal. The wine list for March was 1/2 off (their version of March Madness) so we splurged on a Storybook Zinfandel that was perfect with our meal. First courses run $9 to $15, and entrees $17 to $38. If you’re looking for some incredible flavors to go with fish, this is a great place to dine.
One last note: on the menu they state that “many items can be prepared in a vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free fashion.” That really impressed me as so many of our guests are looking for alternative cuisines due to dietary restrictions.
Always a pleasure to return to old favorites, and Brix Restaurant is one of those places. Only a fifteen minute drive from The Inn On First, a romantic Bed and Breakfast Inn in Napa, it continues to deliver on both quality food and service. We usually dine for lunch as we love the patio seating that overlooks the Brix Gardens and the mountains, but we went for dinner instead, to share a meal with some friends in town, Sarah and Danny.
We started with the mixed green salad, beet salad with walnut crisps and feta (loved it), and the pork belly as appetizers. How they get the pork belly to be that delicious and tender is something I still strive for in my own cooking regimen. The leg of lamb was so wonderful, perfectly cooked. Not something I usually order, but it looked so delicious at another table I ordered it for myself and was glad I did. The steelhead trout was the other special of the night, delicious in every day, grilled to perfection. The burger, of course, a standard there, is always fun to order, and Jamie was oh so glad to have brussels sprouts with his dinner (you know I’m a hater, but can stand it if they are at the opposite end of the table).
Dessert was the weak link this visit, a caramel ice cream sandwich that didn’t quite live up to its hype. It was tasty; just not what I expected based upon the description on the menu. For cocktail lovers, there is a full bar, and they carry a wide range of Napa wines by the glass. For the four of us, including wine, the total bill was $325.00. We thought it was worth every penny.
Recently stopped in on Rocabella, a fairly new Mediterranean restaurant at 1st and Main Streets, a 10 minute casual walk from The Inn On First, a romantic Bed and Breakfast Inn in Napa. With all dishes under $14 we decided to invite some friends to dinner and enjoy the experience with them and to order as much as we could together.
The food: we loved it. Continue reading
Only a ten minute walk from Napa’s luxury Bed and Breakfast Inn, The Inn On First, is Carpe Diem Wine Bar and Restaurant; what we call a “small plates restaurant”, meaning you order to share. Where else can you be tempted by the daily taco of the day (filet mignon with pomegranate glaze, or shrimp pad thai, or pulled pork with a chipotle sauce, or lamb with pickled slaw- every bite delicious!) that changes all the time according to the chef’s inventiveness and seasonal ingredients.
I’m a fan of their pork steam buns, the short ribs, and their filet mignon with red rice cake. Yet by the time you get there these may be gone and replaced with some other yummy dish for you to choose. The fried olives are still a favorite of mine, and the truffled popcorn is downright addictive. You swear you will stop eating it, and yet your hands keep reaching. Jamie loved the brussell sprouts flatbread (you know I’m a hater so I don’t touch the stuff!), and the soft housemade burrata with olive oil drizzle and toast points is always fun.
This restaurant is fun, exciting, and always busy, so reservations are a must. With so many wines by the glass, too, it makes it really interesting to try new wines with these dishes. We’ve even had guests return two nights in a row just so they could try out other dishes and different wines. Stephanie and Scott, Owners, Hostess and Chef, make this must-eat stop in Napa. Oh, and seriously, if they ever take the Twix Bar off the dessert menu I might consider picketing the establishment.
Just a 15-minute walk from The Inn On First, a bed and breakfast in Napa, is the restaurant Angele. With friends in town we decided to return to the restaurant as it had been awhile since we enjoyed the cuisine. With a new chef in the kitchen I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can now report we weren’t disappointed.
The marinated beet salad called to me and I was enthusiastic with every bite, especially with the addition of fromage blanc (I have to admit I have a weakness for cheese in all its forms). I split that with Jamie as our friends split the heirloom tomato sald with figs and prosciutto (gladly they shared and we loved it). The quail was my main course, as it sounded just too yummy to pass up with figs and pancetta-leek au jus. Just delicious. Jamie obviously enjoyed the braised rabbit with tomato confit which he reluctantly gave up a bite to me.
Thankfully our friend ordered the Duo de Bouef with a small filet and braised shortrib and the pork shoulder with quinoa. To my disappointment no one ordered the sea bass, and when it was delivered to the table across the way I was sorry we couldn’t squeeze in one more dish. Check out the full late summer menu on their website.
We still think Angele is one of the great romantic restaurants in Napa, right along the river, with great food, perfect ambience, and wonderful service. A great value for your money.