I was genuinely surprised that my two best meals in Napa were not in Yountville, but in St. Helena at Market Restaurant and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen (report to follow). If only they were dinners, instead of being relegated to second class, light lunch citizenship.
Market serves classic American food with good execution and excellent ingredients. It's the sort of food that is deeply comforting: Caeser Salad, Fried Chicken, Burger and Fries, Mac and Cheese. Unfortunately, after a French fest the night before I couldn't convince Mrs. Mousse to order the fried chicken, burger and mac and cheese. We settled on a couple of Caesers and a split burger.
The Caeser was spot on. I'm a Caeser fiend and I order them everywhere. Crisp Romaine, quality Parmesan, good anchovies and an excellent dressing. It's a simple dish, but one that's easy to screw up by using inferior ingredients or sloppy technique.
The burger was good, if cooked past my desired rare (I need to start emphasizing that more) but the fries were PERFECT. They had the exact right level of crispiness, none were overcooked, none were undercooked. If this is any indication of the fry chef's skill I need to get back there and try out the fried chicken.
It was only a sample of a meal, but I really liked what I had and there were many enticing things on the menu. The kitchen sources good ingredients and they know how to use them. It may not be "epiphany food" but after a couple of meals in Yountville few things sound better than old fashioned, comfort food done right. I will definitely return to Market during a future visit to Napa, ideally with a larger appetite.
Still to come: Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen and a very disappointing meal at the newly Michelin starred Bistro Jeanty