We spent 3-1/2 days in California Wine Country last week. It was our first trip, and I promise it won't be our last!
Our "homebase" was Yountville where we stayed at the Petit Logis. Our room was extremely spacious and had a huge bathroom. Amenities included cable tv, coffee maker, small fridge, etc. The Yountville Fitness Center is across the street - I paid a reasonable drop in fee of $10 to work off some of the calories consumed during our stay. The only negative that I have, if you want to call it a negative, is that we never saw the owner or any staff members during our stay (3 nights). An instructional post-it note greeted us and told us which room was ours and there was no formalized "check out." Although the Petit Logis operates as a B&B (optional), they do not serve breakfast on the premises. They have an arrangement with The Pacific Blues Cafe and Gordon's Market & Cafe. (Breakfast is +/- $20 on the room rate) However, you can only order specific menu offerings. We took advantage of this our first morning and went to Gordon's.
Gordon's was a wonderful find - gourmet in a country setting. All the locals seem to flock here. We had 2 eggs any style, homefries, toast, juice & coffee (bottomless cup). I will say, these were probably the best scrambled eggs I've ever had at a restaurant (and I love Breakfast!!). The rest of their menu was also very appetizing. We ended up returning a 2nd time (on our own dime) and had baby oats with bananas, raisins, and brown sugar, of course. Delicious and quite filling! Our other breakfast was in Sonoma at Pearl's. Another favorite with locals. Not as charming as Gordon's. I had the french toast with a side of eggs. The french toast was good but it was deep fried - a little too greasy for my liking. The eggs had a coat of margarine from the grill. My husband had sausage and biscuits. He said they were just o.k.
Upon arriving in Napa from SFO, we just made it to Lucy's Cafe before they closed for lunch. On a chowhounder rec., I had the onion tart. It was really good!! The combination of carmelized onions and bleu cheese was delicious. My husband had pate and was loving every bite.
The day we drove to the coast, we stopped in Occidental and happened upon Howard's Juice Bar. We wanted a little something to tie us over to dinner. I had a fruit salad with this awesome yogurt-based nut sauce on top (yummy!) and my husband had a BLT with real potato fries. The young staff was very friendly and attentive.
The day we left, we had a late lunch at the Red Hen Cantina. Very decent mexican food - huge servings - great value. We had to eat inside as it was raining. They're moving to a new building south of their present location on Solano Rd. They'll lose their rustic appeal - but that's progress.
p.s. we were so full from the Red Hen that we weren't hungry when we got to the city. Never made it to the Fog City Diner or to anywhere else for dinner prior to our flight.
My tease before I get to our dinners.....but I do have to give a plug for the wineries. After all, this is why you visit, right?!?! We visited Duckhorn, Silver Oak Cellars, The Hess Collection, Chateau Potelle, Benziger, Domaine Chandon, Domaine Carneros, and V. Sattui. Benziger had the most well rounded and educational tour taking you into the vineyards, back to the fermentation tanks and into a cave. Incredible views were had at Domaine Carneros and Chateau Potelle. The grounds at Domaine Chandon were impeccable. We also took the tour at Chandon to see how sparkling wine is made - well worth it! The most incredible collection of art was found at Hess. Silver Oak offered a very informative tour - Enya was our guide and she was great! - they were bottling that day which was an added bonus (their '98 Napa Valley Cabernet is a new favorite!!) Our least favorite winery was V. Sattui. We went there on a rec. from a friend of mine who recently visited. It was way too commercialized. For those of you travelling in a group without a "designated driver" - I recommend hiring a van or limo to take you around, especially if you want to go to more than 3 wineries. We met a group at Domaine Carneros who were on such an outing. Their tourguide was Grant Long, Jr. of "Destination: Napa Valley." He seemed really nice and they had nothing but nice things to say about him. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
A little plug for Auberge de Soleil. We went there for a cocktail at sunset - the wisteria covered deck overlooks the valley - incredible views. For those of you who don't want to drop $500/night on a room, I highly recommend making the drive and having a drink and/or light snack.
3 memorable meals were had at Terra, The French Laundry, and Bistro Jeanty.
Our first dinner was at Terra. I started with a salad of Jerusalem artichoke and mache. My husband had the oyster chowder. For dinner, I had the saki marinated cod and my husband had the ahi tuna. For dessert (any you must leave room!) I had the apple crepes and my husband had the mango and blackberry sorbet. Those crepes were awesome! Everything about Terra was positive. The atmosphere, our server, the food preparation and presentation.
Our second dinner was at The French Laundry. Talk about lucking out and getting a reservation here on my first try! Thanks to all you chowhounds who convinced me to keep it! My husband and I both had the Chef's Tasting Menu. The only difference is that he "up-graded" and had the foie gras with truffles - which was the best foie gras he's ever had. We've eaten at top restaurants in New Orleans and New York City and FL is one of, if not, the best. This was a true dining experience. The ingredients, the presentation, the service....WOW!
Finally, our third and final dinner was at Bistro Jeanty. Those who said it was noisy - you were right on. But, it is a bistro, and the noise adds to the atmosphere. I started with their infamous tomato soup and my husband had a special of lentils topped with pork belly and foie gras. For dinner, I had the filet au poivre and my husband had the veal kidneys (he lives on the edge). The mushroom sauce that accompanied my steak was not only delicious but very rich....I was so full that I could only squeeze in a cup of coffee and a spoonful of the creme caramel that my husband ordered for dessert.
Thanks again to all of you who offered suggestions and guidance. Eat, drink and be happy!
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