Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

dmenkes's Profile

Title Last Reply

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

Wine is a funny thing; it really comes down to personal preference. There are wineries that people swear by that I can't stand, and ones that I love that people don't like. I still couldn't imagine anyone saying to go to Turnbull over Trefethen though.

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

I saw it earlier but I can't see it now...the only one that stuck out in my mind was Turnbull. Are you a fan of them in particular? I don't particularly like their stuff...Trefethen is near there and is much better.

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

You want to do the Bar Tasting, but you don't need a reservation if it's just two people. Call them at 707-963-2134 and see if they still have their $20 tasting. Last time I was there it was $20 and waived if you bought a bottle.

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

That's the one at their other property, that you need reservations at. The one I told you about you just walk in and it's $20.

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

I used to live 45 mins from Napa and drove out there every other weekend for a few years. Got a chance to really explore that way!

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

This one you can just drive up to; it's on the west side of the road and is easier to approach from the north, but just be on the lookout for it. I promise it's worth going to.

1055 Atlas Peak Road
Napa‎ CA‎ 94558-1501
United States

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

Just make sure to call Chappellet ahead of time - I think you need reservations. Their stuff is great but for some reason their Chard just stands out as astounding, especially if you hold onto the bottles for an extra year for them to mellow out.

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

I've actually worked out a process for getting more wineries in per day.

Eat a very heavy breakfast (and lunch), start the first winery right when they open. Take a sip - if it's not mind-blowing, dump the rest and move on to the next glass. Why make yourself drunk if the wine's not even that good? I bring a huge bottle of water and saltine crackers in the car, and have done 10 wineries in a day without being drunk. That being said, you have to show real discipline for not drinking what's been poured for you. I think most people want to feel like they're getting something for their money, but you're just slowing yourself down by drinking it all. I can tell by the first sip if something's great, and if it's not...why drink it?

Napa Winery Question: Barnett Winery (vs) Quintessa

I can't stand Quintessa. Their wine just isn't good and they charge stupid amounts of money for tastings and bottles. Haven't been to Barnett but I couldn't see how they could be worse.

Winery Tour or Just Tastings; Visiting Napa for first time

It depends on what you want. Are you visiting to experience really good wine or are you more interested in the process? Personally, I love the tour at Chappellet but if you don't want to drive that far, you can always do the tour at Cakebread.

Now, as far as tasting really good really depends on what you like.

For me, Pinot Noir doesn't get much better than at Del Dotto (go to the cave; you don't need reservations there). Robert Sinsky makes a great Zin and just about everything is great at Goosecross. Frank Family makes a terrific Chard and I love most everything at Trefethen.

Does anyone remember the brown salsa at Tortilla Grill in Venice?

No, Baja Fresh's was black and much more watery. This used canned jalapenos and was thick, almost gravy-like.

Apr 21, 2011
dmenkes in Home Cooking

Does anyone remember the brown salsa at Tortilla Grill in Venice?

I moved away from LA and when I came back a few months ago I discovered that Tortilla Grill on Abbot Kinney is now closed. I absolutely loved their "brown" salsa and never got a chance to deconstruct it.

Does anyone know the specific type of salsa or how it was made? I wanna make it at home!

Tortilla Grill
1357 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

Apr 21, 2011
dmenkes in Home Cooking


Just a quick update: I've been living in London for a year and have eaten at several dozen different Indian restaurants here and can say this: Shalimar in SF is very very similar to many of the low-end Indian restaurants in London, in the touristy areas; greasy, cheap, and gross. It doesn't come close to the better ones in LA and London (my two favs here are Atma and Eriki, funny enough located within 5 minutes of each other on Finchley Road).

Paella in Madrid or Barcelona?


I don't know what you were smoking, but I wish I had some before I ate at Casa Valencia on Saturday night. I was hoping that I somehow got the address wrong, or otherwise mixed up, but no, we ate at the one at 335 Corsega, upstairs--why did we have to ring a doorbell to get in?

I guess our first warning sign was that there was nobody else in the dining room. I know, you're gonna say that we were probably there at 7pm like all the other touristas. Nope, we were there at 9pm and the three of us ate without a single other person in the entire dining area (on a Saturday night!). Most of the waitstaff were watching the game on telly in the other room.

Our server was very friendly and spoke decent English though we mostly communicated in Spanish. I ordered the Paella Valencia and there were bits of dry rabbit and chicken and yes, the incredibly large garrafons, but it arrived lukewarm and looked like it was prefab. My friend ordered the Arroz Negro and it was a bit bland but edible. My girlfriend was told the only vegetarian option for her was a salad, which came without any sort of dressing or even olive oil, though she seemed to do okay with that.

You were quite right about the desserts--they even forgot to take the wrapper off of my friend's bizcocho!

How you could recommend this place is beyond me, seriously. We had fresher food on the airplane. There are so many better restaurants in this town, most of which we've managed to discover just walking around away from anything vaguely touristic.

And now that I've thoroughly trashed your recommendation, I have an alternative suggestion for a restaurant that we fell in love with we ate there twice:

Gran Via, 603
08007 Barcelona
93 301 65 24

We ate there for lunch twice and not a tourist in sight. The servers were very friendly and remembered us from our previous visit. Quite decent paella though their specialty is in their variety of Tapes. Not too expensive (unless you get the Pata negra which seemed a bit steep at €18). You could very easily eat a hearty lunch for €15/person if you knew what to get, and they had lunch specials which were closer to €12. It's right near the Passeig De Gracia Metro, one block west (red awnings with jamon hanging in the window). It's not a super-fancy place but there are no pictures in the menus (though there is a very limited English menu; be warned that you'll have to know what you want in Spanish) and the clientele is definitely upscale. So don't go walking in there in your Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and chacos!

Apr 14, 2008
dmenkes in Spain/Portugal

Best Chinese Food in Chinatown?

Ton Kiang's in Inner Richmond (Geary and 22nd) is awesome; their dim sum is pretty good and their menu dishes are good. I'm a big fan of their hot & sour soup with shrimp. I'm not a big fan of their orange chicken though.

Alternative to Urth Caffe up here??

I've moved to SF from LA and am already craving the triple-layer cheesecake with oreo crust that I used to get at several Urth Caffes in SoCal. Is there anything, *anything* remotely close up here? Strike that, I demand the best layered cheesecake (esp. one with oreo crust!!). Where can I find it?? I don't wanna drive to the East Bay for a cheesecake; there has to be something awesome in the city...right?

Nothing against you East Bay folks, but I'd rather keep it local. Thanks!!


The Shalimar we ate at on Polk last night was greasy and not very good. Their garlic naan was pretty good but their CTM was super oily and the chicken was just gross. Maybe their other locations are better?

Lichee Garden, SF dim sum report w/ pics

Lichee Garden rocks. We ate there a few weeks ago and our bill was about the same for 4 ppl, making it $6 pp with tip! It's definitely better to go with 4 people as you can sample more dishes. Those shrimp dumplings are the bomb, aren't they? We had a much better experience with the ladies explaining what everything was each time they stopped by. In fact, we were constantly turning them away. I have a thing for the sesame balls too. I can't wait to go back!

Sushi Bistro in the Richmond

Weird, I've been here a few times, most recently about a week or so ago, and had quite a good experience. They serve huge slices of fish and their rolls are pretty good. Not a high-end place per se, but you can do far worse. That's too bad about your takeout experience. Eating there's been fine for me.

Naan n' Curry vs... ?????

I dunno, when we ate there for lunch it was $22/person w/o drinks and their CTM was far below average; a one-note tomato sauce puree that just left me dissapointed. I really prefer CTM with less yogurt and more refined spices--a bit more "chunky". I used to eat at Anarkali in Hollywood as it was my first experience w/ CTM, which was far more yogurty, and their service was just so lousy I stopped going, even with a 50% coupon. I wonder if the Gate of India on Sunset is connected w/ the Santa Monica one at all. I'd be surprised, honestly.

Feb 10, 2007
dmenkes in Los Angeles Area

Naan n' Curry vs... ?????

I know Nawab on Wilshire is more of a white napkin place, but their lunch buffet is pretty dang good. Their chicken tikka masala isn't as good as others I've had in LA (or Naan-n-Curry in SF) but their lamb dishes are pretty awesome. Check out this thread:

I'm also a big fan of Gate of India (NOT that horrible place in Santa Monica near the Promenade; I'm talking about the fancier and very very good one in Hollywood). That's my fav. place for CTM.

Feb 10, 2007
dmenkes in Los Angeles Area

King of Falafel [San Francisco]

We just ate there for lunch (we originally intended on eating at Sawa, but it was closed for remodeling), and it was yummy! Their tahini was good but I wished it was spicy. Only after finishing my chicken shawarma sandwich did I realize they had chili sauces on every other table but ours. They've got a decent soda and beer selection in the cooler behind, but they have a soda foutain too. Their prices were reasonable. Not too shabby for being our 2nd choice. If anyone ends up in Pasadena, of all places, check out Father Nature's. They have a shawarma wrap with spicy tahini that's insane.

African restaurants in San Francisco?

Just went down to Divisadero to check out Sawa; it's closed for remodeling. Serves me right for not calling ahead.