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St. Helena alternative to Taylor's Refresher

Sunshine's deli.
A few doors down the road is Azteca market which has good eats.

Jul 24, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Is there any place like Moto's or El Bulli

The only places I know of doing any sort of avante garde cuisine are Coi and the restaurant at Meadowood, which is definitely avante garde under new chef. But not as out there as El Bulli.

Jul 12, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

New York Hound’s looking for wine country recommendations!

Being in Rohnert Park puts a whole specific spin on suggestions. Apart from TFL, I would strongly urge you to focus on Sonoma County and there are no shortages of amazing places to go.
Zazu, Santa Rosa
Farmhouse, Forestville
Bistro Ralph, Healdsburg
Ravenous, Healdsburg
Cyrus, Healdsburg
Nick's Cove at the coast
Mirepoix for lunch or dinner, Windsor
All the Russian River Valley wineries
All the Dry Creek Valley wineries
People love the Stark restaurant group place: Willi's Wine Bar, Willi's Seafood, and heard good things about the steak house, Stark's Steaks
Hana Sushi in Rohnert Park is terrific
EDK and Girl and the Fig in Sonoma
K&L Bistro in Sebastopol

Jun 29, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

New York Hound’s looking for wine country recommendations!

The town of Sonoma is not all that close to the city Napa itself, maybe 25 minutes drive to center of town. And the town of Sonoma is probably 30 minutes from HWY 101 which is main artery to Healdsburg. If I remember correctly it takes about 1 hour to get to Healdsburg if you go the back way, meaning HWY 12 north, through Santa Rosa to 101. The town of Saint Helena is probably 40 minutes from town of Sonoma and CIA is north of Saint Helena. So if you are a little more clear on what your itinery is, dining suggestions will make more sense.

Jun 28, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

St. Helena: Terra or Martini House?

I have to second Maria Lorraine.
Martini House has the patio, a full bar, and the food is heavier than Terra.
Terra's cuisine is a sort of Italian/Japanese fusion and cooking unlike anywhere else in the wine country.
Both have excellent wine lists. And both would be a compliment to your dinners at Cyrus and Ad Hoc.
Martini House does lunch on weekends, so perhaps you could go to both?

Jun 23, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Wine country question - I really did search first!

For your husband's pleasure, I would say go to Press. Let that be your big deal dinner. Most any restaurant in Napa Valley is going to have some sort of approachable meat entree, except for TFL, AdS, La Toque or Meadowood.
I haven't yet been to JoLe in Calistoga which just opened like 2 days ago, but when you are there, look at the menu du jour and see if it something for you both. In Calistoga Buster's BBQ will certainly please your hubby. If you really want to stay in small restaurants there is Cook in Saint Helena, which I'd suggest over some of the other smaller places. But a chef friend of mine is in love with food at Aztec market in St. Helena down just past Taylor's. Hey, if you want a great burrito....

Jun 12, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

One Meal in Napa Valley

One night in July for stiff prices, great food, relaxed atmosphere...?
Redd in Yountville
Martini House and Terra in St. Helena
Just opened w/no reviews yet - so research, the revamped Brix, now 25 degrees Brix. As they are so new who knows, but the setting is lovely and on-board consultant, David Gingrass knows his stuff.

Jun 12, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Any Reports on JoLe in Calistoga?

I heard JoLe opened in the Mount View Hotel Sunday. Open Table is accepting resos.... Wondering if anyone has checked it out yet?
Calistoga could use a nice place.

Jun 11, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for Italian Restaurant in Napa

I can't say there are amazing Italian rsetaurants in Napa Valley. The best I can suggest is Bistro Don Giovanni on HWY 29 just north of the town of Napa. But I would not say it is amazing. Also there is Tra Vigne too on HWY 29, but in Saint Helena. Again, not amazing. I live in the valley and love Italian food and miss it....

Jun 08, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Please help me narrow down my choices for Sunday Brunch/Lunch in Napa area

Ummm I was going to say that both of Ruth's suggestions make sense. But...
What are you planning on doing between lunch and dinner on Friday, when your room is in Calistoga? A good half hour drive? Having said that, Friday may be a night to just do nothing and enjoy a late afternoon siesta and a spa treatment in evening in Calistoga. And if still hungry wander around a bit maybe even settle for snacks from Cal-Mart. Honestly... Then you will have a reason to come back and do dinner at Redd and Ad Hoc and anything else you care to try...

May 30, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Short List of Napa Restaurants - Advice/Suggestions, Please.

Given that this is a dinner w/client...
Implying an ambiance that is sophisticated and not loud:
Problem w./Yountville is that most places are louder except TFL.
In St. Helena either Martini House or Terra (which is closed on Tues.)
AdS has a great view and nice dining experience; so does Meadowood; both offer relaxed wine country resort dining. But Meadowood offers a better experience IMHO.
All things considered, I'd say Martini House.

May 13, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

El Dorado Kitchen - tourist trap?

In defense of EDK, I would suggest the possibility that your experience was more due to staffing. Perhaps the patio was understaffed that day and the hostess felt your needs would be met faster, if you actually waited for the server to catch up a bit managing current tables before seating you. Perhaps you had to wait to find out about the 1st bottle because the server was looking for an out-of-stock bottle and didn't know it was out-of-stock. As to why the second bottle took so long to arrive, who knows. Doesn't sound like a bait and switch MO though. Especially since on your previous visit EDK comped your wine. Mid range restaurants rarely have a sophisticated wine program, run by a sommelier who's job is to manage the inventory and train staff and communicate availibility. The task rests on the shoulders of a manager(s) who have other responsibilities as well.
I have never eaten at this place, but your experience hardly sounds like tourist trap antics. Not to say it isn't or they don't have bad behaviors, just not in your case.
The weather was lovely on Sunday, you got to sit outside rather promptly w/o resos and had a nice meal... And I bet that by the end of the week you will have heard from them.

Apr 30, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa or Sonoma for Syraz lovers

Well I first sense would be to send you over to northern Sonoma County. Dry Creek Area. Preston and Christopher Creek come to mind. But there are plenty of small places you can just pop into over there. And also, Dry Creek area is where premium Zinfandels are grown and produced and you may enjoy them. Also search around for boutique Petite Sirah producers. Calistoga, in Napa County, is a good area, but again, based on what you wrote, I think you will find what you enjoy in Sonoma County. So make Healdsburg your base. (Knights Valley and Alexander Valley does produce some lovely Cabernet Sauvignon.)

Apr 28, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Wine Country: Ubuntu or Bistro Don Giovanni for dinner?

IMHO, it is a no-brainer in favor of Ubuntu. The cooking is outstanding, the design is beautiful and the restaurant has a very unique, Northern California feel. The plates are small, but not tiny. I found that for 2 women: almonds, olives plus 4 plates and a dessert leaves us feeling very satisfied. And I am not a vegetarian... Now I want to go again, soon! (The wine list is competitively priced and interesting.)

Apr 25, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area


Again, if you are willing to spend for Auberge, give Meadowood a long look. I think you will have a more enjoyable time.
If you are in Calistoga, hopping over to Zazu (on Guerneville Rd. in Santa Rosa) or Mirepoix (west of 101 in Windsor) may satisfy a more casual need. Calistoga, IMHO, doesn't have truly noteworthy options, just some reasonably nice places to eat.

Apr 21, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area


jf123, you didn't indicate where exactly you are staying.
I like Bistro Ralph a lot, and the drive back from Healdsburg via 128 into Napa Valley is pleasant.
Ubuntu over Cindy's is a no-brainer. Seriously.
I would urge you to consider Terra and Meadowood (both in St. Helena) over Solbar/Auberge respectively.

Apr 19, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Quince Corkage fee and policy

I would offer that a corkage fee is to cover: not only a place holder for a lost sale, but also a service charge. For the glassware; opening the bottle; any sort of special attention the bottle needs: chilling, decanting, filtering; pouring the wines; not to mention a well trained staff that can perform these functions.
Restaurants are a place of business and open their doors to make money.
Although, yes, you as a consumer are free to vote with your dollars... If Quince has a policy of charging corkage, whether a bottle is bought off the list or not, they are playing fair by applying policy to all. Not just those who follow the policy, but also those who ask to not pay after the fact.

Apr 13, 2008
Madge in Not About Food

Where [in SF proper] should a Chowhound live?

Need to weigh in here...
I was born and raised in SF and lived there for over 30 yrs, although not since 1998. As much as some things change, others don't. During my SF tenure I lived all over town and each area has it's own offerings and problems. My advice to you is to find a place to live that makes you happy in an area that suits you. The food is everywhere, even if secreted away and that is the fun of it!
I was driving through town from the Cow Palace a couple of months ago, motoring along Geneva to Mssion; even out there, there is food to be discovered.
Just find a home/don't overthink this.

Apr 03, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

High Tea in Sonoma County?

English Garden Tea Rooms
1107 Cedar at Lincoln in Calistoga. Not Sonoma County but just over the hill.
I haven't been. They opened beginning of this year?

Mar 02, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa Dining, Where to go??

Ubuntu wine list is competitive and well priced. I had a terrific bottle of Hanzell Chardonnay for around $85 recently. I truly enjoy Ubuntu!
Terra is always good and so is Meadowood restaurant. I like the feel-good conviviality of Bistro Jeanty. Huge portions and paltry number of white wines, but I almost always leave very happy.

Feb 23, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Wine Country Dinner with Meat and Potatoes Mom

I love Ubuntu, but it sound's like your mother will not. I would seriously suggest that you stop by In-and-Out Burgers so she can fill up on a double double and fries before you go. That way her meat and potato needs will be met and she won't stress over chilled baby vegetable soups - meaning what kind of place is this? And you can enjoy chilled baby vegetable soups which are terrific.
Bouchon and Bistro Jeanty both have tasty Steak-Frites as well as other nice French dishes in Yountville. Bouchon has a great raw bar. In Healdsburg, I always enjoy Bistro Ralph and he makes great shoe-string fries too. And table-side shaken martinis, not to mention a wine list of wine only from Healdsburg, so he is huge on terroir.
I would say most places in the wine country have items on the menu for less-adventurous dinners
(Again $5 at In-and-Out, my favorite fast food chain, is not a joke.)
Have fun and enjoy time w/your mother!

Feb 20, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa Dinner this Saturday night - last minute!

I am not a vegetarian. The dining companion I was w/both times is also not a vegetarian. It's great! We both loved it and d.c. has been back w/others who also not veggies and they loved it.You will definitely feel like you are in California.

Jan 23, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Need help with St Helena dinner picks

Terra is great but they close for winter, I believe 1st 2 weeks of Jan. so check. Since you mentioned special occasion, I would second Meadwood. The food is outstanding; well the 2 Michelin stars are well-deserved. Martini House serves more than a mushroom menu and that would be my second choice for you if Terra is in fact closed on your weekend. Market and Cook are both very simple places offering very simple food. Pawlcyn's places are a step up from those. CIA is it's own special animal and the food can be very good, but it too may be closed. Lots of winter breaks around here....

Jan 08, 2008
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Solo Dining Recs in Napa?

Ubuntu. Zuzu. Both in downtown Napa. I hesitate to mention Angele, although I have enjoyed many meals there, it has been reported in local news that there is some transition going on in kitchen.
As for driving up to Yountville. Bouchon has a lively and small bar and nice food. But based on what you said you were looking for the Napa sopts seem to best fit your bill.

Dec 30, 2007
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Angele (Napa) Report

It was recently reported in the SFChron that chef Trip Maudlin was moving to Fringale in the City. Surely the owner will hire a great repalcement!

Dec 23, 2007
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Poor Service - We Walked - What Would You Have Done?

Same thing. Maybe I wouldn't have waited as long as you. I just feel resentment building and when I get to a certain point, nothing is going to make me feel better or compell me to stay. A line gets crossed; it isn't about money (for instance a free dinner will not make me happy), it is about my time and I can't go backwards.
I mean it is one thing to see that a restaurant is busy, but another to be ignored. And the worst is when you left and no one said anything...
I am a server and have forgotten about tables. It has happened, I have made that mistake and I have to live w/consequence. Sometimes I can win a table over and sometimes I can't.
But I have been a diner far longer than a server and leaving is the best thing to do. Too many alternatives out there. As for spending effort w/owner. This will get back to them. Find someplace else to eat.

Dec 22, 2007
Madge in Not About Food

I Am Vegetable, Hear Me Roar! Ubuntu Redux (long)

I just had dinner #2 this evening and wow, even better than 1st visit in Sept.!!!
Had Arty salad w/veg salsa verde and pecorino; oxheart carrot, braised w/turnip puree seasoned with mace: the caulfilower pot and potato roubochon w/spinach, slow-cooked egg and red-wine/truffle sauce. For dessert the lemon/yuzu parfait and epoisse cheese and prunes in armagnac. A bottle of Hanzell '05 Chard and the olives and almonds to nibble before ordering. Totally terrific.

Dec 03, 2007
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

Oil Spill in San Francisco and Crabs??

I was thinking the exact same thing this morning.
Expect crabs will be caught from Bodega Bay on up north. This thing seems to be a horror.

Nov 08, 2007
Madge in Food Media & News

Best in napa? (other than TFL)

For super fabulous I'd suggest you also look at Meadowood Restaurant on the Silverado Trail. They garnered 2 Michelin stars. TFL has 3 and many of your own choices earned 1.
But you really can't go too wrong. Off nights ahppen but these are all solid choices,
Bon Appetite!

Oct 30, 2007
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area

3 girls in Napa

Gordon's is closed. Zuzu has a tiny bar and they serve only beer/wine. You may enjoy Bounty Hunter in Napa around the corner on First St. Only wine and simple food, but the atmosphere may be more conducive to sitting and tasting. I had terrific food at Ubuntu on Main St. a few weeks ago. They do have a physical bar, but I don't know if they serve hard liquor or just beer/wine. Otherwise, you have a good list.

Oct 08, 2007
Madge in San Francisco Bay Area