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five guys burger sucks

5 Guys is good, but not good enough to spend 2x as much as In-N-Out. My single burger w cheese, fries and coke was just under $ In-N-Out, it's $4.95 for the same order. This is not even a competition.

Sep 30, 2011
orangeplow in Chains

Bring Wine, Pay Double

I think everyone in America should serve a mandatory 2 year stint in the hospitality industry after high school (Kinda like the Swiss army). Most problems and issues, particularly when it comes to price, corkages and tipping, always arise from those who have never worked in a restaurant. They don't get it...never will.

Mar 22, 2007
orangeplow in Features

Which of these wineries would you go to?


First I have to agree with others that Sinsky is your best choice "taste-wise" but you still won't be blown away. In fact, you won't be blown away by much of anything unless you pay premiums to taste the reserve wines (if available) that aren't part of most tasting room flights. The best wine-tasting value in Napa has to be Frank Family on Larkmead--good wines, no tasting fee. Now, I gotta add that you will get burnt out on ricocheting from winery to winery suffering the same incessant prattle from minium wage pourer monkeys. If this your first time to the Valley and you are in tourist mode and you want to do an interesting tour, go to Beringer. At Beringer you get a history lesson and tour through their hand-dug wine caves...Yes everyone is yelling COMMERICAL and Touristy!!! but they can't deny it's interesting. Plus it's like taking out of town guests to SF for the first time--you gotta take 'em to the Golden Gate, Fisherman's Warf and go for a ride on the cable's a must--get it out of the way. If you go, make a B-line for their reserve room--their reserve program puts out some of them most opulent and exulting cabenets in the valley--ignore the rest. Another "interesting" place (with lousy wine) is Coppola--beautiful grounds and a chateau full of history and Coppola's movie crap.

As for wine, instead of "tasting" my wife and I go "appetizering". We start in Napa and make our way up to Calistoga. We'll go to a restaurant, order their signature appetizer along with the chef recommended local NV wine to accompany the dish; then ,we go to the next target restaurant up valley. This way, you get to eat the incredible food and try wines you may not otherwise experience. Also, most restaurants will let you taste before you buy. As a bonus the food makes the wine taste better and vice versa. Do this:

Start at Bounty Hunter in Downtown Napa. It's a wine-bar/restaurant with an amazing selection you can both taste and buy. They have many limited/boutiquey wines that you may want to go visit--plus you'll get great insight from both the staff and patrons sitting next to you--it's an industry hang out.

Then go up to Yountville and hit Bistro Jeanty and Bouchon. Sit at the bars or outside on the bistro tables if it's nice...FRITES!!!

Then Oakville--Mustards Grill. This is the place that really launched the "wine-country quisine" thing back in the 80's--lots of nv wines.

Rutherford- The Rutherford Grill--Family style looking but great.

St. Helena-- Press--Here you will find a wine list dedicated exclusively to Napa Valley wines...The owner is a winemaker/ or winery owner I believe. Go next door to Dean and Deluca and buy some bottles.

St. Helena--Martini House

St. Helena--Squeeze in that Beringer tour

St. Helena-- The restaurant at the CIA--Christian Brothers old "Greystone Cellars"

Calistoga-- Frank Family (on Larkmead) do you like art? Clos Pegase on Dunawheel

Calistoga--Wappo Bar for apps and wine.

Then drive back, carefully, to Napa via Silverado Trail.

In Sonoma, you'll want to drive up to the Dry Creek Valley just north of Healdsburg. Take 101 to the "Dry Creek Rd." exit, and turn left under the freeway. It's a beautiful, narrow, winding road that will take you to many small, family owned operations where the person pouring your wine is most likely the winemaker him/herself. Great zinfandels (Wilson, Rued Bella)and cal-itals (UNTI). Cabernets in Dry Creek have a much different style than Napa. They are lighter bodied, Iess complex, and better for daily "drinking"--Napa cabs are huge, opulent "food wines".
As you make your way to the end of Dry Creek road, hit Sbragia Family Vineyards at the end of the road before the dam. The winery has a deck with the best view in the county. Drink it in.

Which foods taste WORSE organic?

Well...I've experienced two different organic wines...those with sulfites added prior to fermentation, and those with no sulfites added. Both will claim to use sustainably raised grapes, but those wines w/o sulfites taste like cough syrup. Ostensibly, those that don't use sulfites have to ferment there wines at high temps to protect against bad bugs that would otherwise turn their wine to vinegar--resulting in a 'eu d' roubitussen' taste. The addition of sulfites allows the wine maker to control fermentaion temps that play a role in its final quality...ya sulfite free wine pretty much tastes like ass.

Oct 21, 2006
orangeplow in General Topics

Another thumbs down on Oinkster and why...

Interesting post. Onikster sounds like Taylor's Refresher in St.Helena (Napa Valley). An old 40's burger stand that now sells calamari and seared ahi sandwiches with wasabi aioli etc. through a walk up window (Tastee Freeze sytle). I must say I appreciate the stab at the concept, but the expectation, pricewise, never fails to stun me...jaw dropping sticker shock. The problem is, with this concept, is that they are making their own soups,stocks and sauces, as well as curing their own meats etc. This takes oodles of time and man power. While it makes for better flavor, it costs a lot of money to support...that's why you don't see much meat in that pastrami sandwich. They really should just find premium sources like Hobbs cured and applewood smoked meats from Marin, Free range products from Nieman Ranch, and have close relationships with local farmers...then cut prices by 25% or so.

Oct 05, 2006
orangeplow in Los Angeles Area

SF Food Tourgasm Oct.5-8 Here's what I have so far...

Forgot to chime in on Ad hoc. It's new and was just opening the last time I was there...delayed because the Exec Chef got thrown in jail opening weekend. Evidently it's Keller's stab at non-chalance. A walk-in place to grab fried chicken and meatloaf. Ya right! Be prepared to pay 40 bucks for that frou-fee diner fare. Like all things is never cheap or easy. Really, all those crown jewels of the Zagat Survey right at their feet, the people who live in Yountville would kill for a Domino's pizza...simple fast and cheap. No formula restaurants allowed.

SF Food Tourgasm Oct.5-8 Here's what I have so far...

Sorry my previous post sounded a little negative. Trolling around Yountville, I begin to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. All the restaurants I listed really are good (except for Tra Vinge--a leftover vestige from the late 80's early 90's "wine country cuisine" trend. Ciarello's long gone and it is oozing with complacancy). Bistro Jeanty is cozy, and Bouchon served me the best soup of my life--a cream of leek and celerac that was airy and topped with minced, carmelized pear. Also, when you're in Napa, around the corner from Pilar is a great wine merchant called Bounty Hunter. They carry boutique wines that just don't make it too far out of the valley. Bounty Hunter is popular with locals and serves amazing Beer-Can Chicken and BBQ so good it has a cult following. check em out

SF Food Tourgasm Oct.5-8 Here's what I have so far...

Let me give you a head start on your Napa trip. My brother lives in Yountville, and I visit often. First, pardon my YAWWWWN as the thought of ricocheting "up valley" to various eateries; the Napa Valley food scene has grown tired and in desperate need of a shake up. The obvious ones--TFL, Bouchon, Bistro Jeanty, Hurley's, Brix, Mustards, Rutherford Grill, Tre Vigne(really tired),Wine Spectator,and Brannan's Grill are all 10yo. or older, coasting on reputation and tourists who think Micael Ciarello is the shiz-nat...not so. Instead, read between the lines and don't overlook the City of Napa itself. Napa has a great, can't-miss little French- Mediterranean place called Pilar Leaving Napa (if it's lunch) Bistro Don Giovanni makes one of the best damn hamburgers I've ever eaten. In Yountville...while it is played out, the tomato soup en croute at Bistro Jeanty is good--eat it at the bar along with a pasitis and get the frech bistro fantasy out of your system - move on. If your looking to slum it...Pancha's is a dive bar, seriously, one block north of TFL. It has pool tables,loud music, and smoking. This is where all the off duty wine-pourer chicks and local chefs go to get their freak on after work. Buy 'em a beer and get some insider cooking tips from one of Thomas Keller's whipping boys. Skip Cyndi Pawlcyn's Mustard's Grill and go straignt to her "Backstreet Kitchen" in St. Helena. She just opened a new fish place--haven't been. Martini House is good as is Wappo Bar in Calistoga. Good Luck

recs for Chico?

If your MIL raves about the Outback...don't waste your hard earned cash at Red Tavern. I would recommend the 5th St. Steakhouse(very good) but L-O-U-D unless you can get an outside table--try it. Kramore Inn is quiet for a reason...nobody goes.

Sep 11, 2006
orangeplow in California

recs for Chico?

The best food in Chico is the Red Tavern. The Chef Owner used to own Citron in Berkeley (SF Chron 3 stars and 31/2 from the Contra Costa Times). He sold that and moved to Chico 10 years ago...If he stayed there, he'd be a celebrity chef by now. What makes their food so good is that everything is FRESH and in season; eg. you won't find a tomato on the menu from Oct. thru June--when you do, it's an heirloom from a local organic farmer who picked it that morning. That same spirt courses through their free range and grass fed meats and the delicate preperation and presentations...great, fresh food doesn't need to be fussed with.Red Tavern is, truly, our Chez Panisse...most Chicoans are oblivious to this and don't rely "get" what a gem the Red Tavern is.

Sep 09, 2006
orangeplow in California

Great Breakfast near 101 in SLO-Atascadero-Paso Robles?

Ok...gotta say it. Took the advice of all Chowhouders...BIG SKY sucked (for me)last week. I did breakfast--that's the meal everyone says is the best there. The Devils scramble was oily, and the potatoes were undercooked and had that wrinkled been-lyin'-around awile look and texture. Good coffee cake though. I'm guessing by the equal amount of raves to ho-hums to lousies--BIG SKY is inconsistant.

Sep 09, 2006
orangeplow in California