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Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area Napa

Ubuntu, Napa Ca

tom246 | | May 3, 2009 03:56 PM

A week of visiting Sonoma and Napa is always fun and relaxing. We had a series of excellent dinners, Bistro des Copains, Barndiva, Jole and finally Ubuntu.

We had heard a lot of hype about Ubuntu but we had not actually looked at a menu until we arrived.
First, I had no idea the place was as attractive as it is. A sleek, modern look and feel. The lighting for the large room is perfect and the tables well spaced to allow for normal conversation even when full.

For those who don't know, the menu is set up with smaller dishes. Similar to Jole in that you devise your own "tasting menu".
Three of us ordered six dishes which turned out to be plenty. We were very impressed with the flavors, presentation and creativity of the chef and staff.
We all shared the following:

English peas and gold shoots in a consomme of the shells with white chocolate, chocolate mint, macadamia, purple snaps. This was so light and refreshing, cited as a favorite by one of the diners
Carta da musica, homemade crispy sardinian flatbread with truffled pecorino, two arugulas, trumpet chips. This was very savory in flavor, nice presentation.
Carrot gnocchetti with tarragon and mimolette with roast oxheart, tiny raw purple haze, spiced pulp crumble. Herbs and spices went really well with the carrots.
Organic grits from arbuckle, a "62.5" egg and parmesan, roscoe's asparagus roasted in sage butter, agretti, black trumpet caviar. Wow, a lot of flavors here with a nice mix of sweet, salty and savory. Very flavorful. My favorite.
Mushroom pizza bianco with homemade goat's milk ricotta. Royal trumpet confit with a puree of the trimmings, three thymes. Mushroom pizza on steroids. A favorite of the third diner.
Cauliflower in a cast iron pot. Roast-puree, vadouvan spices, cilantro, toasts.
Our server told us this was a "signature" dish. Scooping out the tasty mixture on toasts was delicious. Another savory type dish.

All of the above dishes had complex but great flavor and were beautifully crafted and presented. We eached picked favorites but all were excellent. Service was attentive and informative.

We were pretty full but split one dessert between us. Gently roasted strawberries, meyer lemon, lavender meringue, yogurt parfait. This dessert continued the trend of combining distinct individual flavors to make the finished flavor even better.
A press pot of Blue Bottle coffee and some mighty leaf tea finished the evening.

If you have not been, I highly recommend Ubuntu. The range of flavors and creativity is quite amazing. A 2007 August West chard was terrific with dinner.

We have been coming out to Sonoma and Napa for the past 10 years and our choices this visit were all excellent.

I have a couple of lunches in Sonoma and Anderson Valley to report on but for now I need to catch up on things here at home :)