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Restaurants & Bars 8

American Kobe Burger @ Celadon, Napa

Melanie Wong | Jun 7, 200302:49 AM

Today’s lunch was a late one seated outside on Celadon’s lovely patio. We were marking the end of this year’s MW exam. While I did not take the test myself this year, my hopes and prayers had been with my study partner this week and we needed a glass of wine to blow off steam. I’d been to Celadon’s original location before, this was my first visit to its new site adjoining the Napa River Inn.

Our waiter gushed over the daily specials. With recent discussions on this board in mind, I almost ordered the grilled Kobe tri-tip sandwich special until I spotted the Kobe burger with fries on the regular menu for $10. The waiter asked if I wanted the “extras” of blue cheese or avocado, but I declined. After the Fringale Kobe extravaganza, I’d learned that this quality of meat deserves stage front and center, unadorned. I ordered it rare.

Presented open-face, just the plain grilled burger patty was a thing of beauty. Very dark in color all-round, almost looking burnt, but inside it really was rare and unset in the center. The toasted bun dusted with cornmeal had a light smear of remoulade sauce, plus arugula, ripe tomato slices and thin rings of sweet red onion. The flavor of the meat was incredible, so deep and rich. With each bite, a new rivulet of melted beef fat and red meaty juices was released and encircled my wrists. The tarragon fries were skinny, extra crisp golden brown and tossed with fresh chopped tarragon. Nine-month old Molly had her first ever taste of French fries today from my plate, her mom deciding that Celadon’s version was not junk food, and found them quite palatable.

We shared a half bottle of 2001 Selene “Hyde” Carneros Sauvignon Blanc. Made in a confected style with lots of tropical, tutti-frutti aromas and flavors and some oak shadings, the dark straw color and phenolic etch in the finish made us wonder whether it had some gewürztraminer in it, might have had some skin contact, or had a high percentage of Musqué clone. It made a big impression on the first taste, but I soon tired of it.

The bill for my burger, Oliver’s crab cakes, one glass of bubbly, half bottle of wine, and a liter of gassy Italian water was $65. That’s getting up there for lunch for two. Yet, it was so pleasant on the patio, really the perfect setting for our ritual, I didn’t mind. While not something I can afford to do every week, I’ll be back for the next special occasion.


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