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03/08 Martini House, St.Helena: Mushrooms, Mushrooms Everywhere, And Not A Sou To Spare

opinionatedchef | Apr 10, 200802:40 PM

You know it’s going to be expensive the minute you see that dramatic fountain under the dramatic tent welcoming you into an evening at Martini House. Bearded Brian Keith lookalike- Pat Kuleto- gives us a dark intimate wood panelled ‘clubhouse/ lodge’ of a space, with kilim rugs on the walls and kilim-themed lamps etc. Handsome,warm, inviting, rich- are the operative adjectives here. It is expensive- in the sense of entrées ranging from $36 to $41. But these entrees were WORTH their price. No $21 Ubuntu entrée prices for a half-cup portion of unsalted Anson Grits and 3 fava bean sprouts. A Martini House plate is made up of many flavorful well-thought- out components that build a multi-layered taste experience of substantial quality and quantity.

Wild mushrooms are always on the menu here. They may not be locally foraged, or even fresh, but they are on most dishes nonetheless. And while I was at first disappointed that they weren’t all fresh and/or local, I can’t say that anything I tasted- suffered from this fact (some mushroooms, like porcini, ARE more flavorful dried than fresh.)
In fact, everything was quite wonderful. Our tall thin main server had definite attitude issues but the GM , and other servers, couldn’t have been nicer.


Cream of Mushroom Soup

King Trumpet Mushroom Carpaccio w/ Shaved Celery and Meyer Lemon Aioli

Marinated Tuna and Tuna Confit on Cucumber Carpaccio w/ Preserved Lemon Aioli

Roasted Duck Breast w/ Butternut Squash Ravioli and Truffle Honey Sauce

Coffee Panna Cotta [and I don’t LIKE panna cotta(too low fat)!!]

Candy Cap Bread Pudding w/ Maple Crème Anglaise (now for THIS I would like
the recipe)

And, surprise of surprises, the best Cosmopolitan I have ever had. Kettle One Mandarin, crnb. jce, cointreau, fresh lime. Go figure….

Our Napa friends had the Mushroom Tasting (delicious but too little food for me) and the Chefs Tasting menus , both with wine pairing ,and they were exceedingly happy.

We all really enjoyed ourselves. An opportunity to eat a lot of wild mushrooms in the context of luscious, highly satisfying food served in a well heeled and well cushioned environment.

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