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Dinner at Ubuntu

rruben1 | Jul 4, 2008 05:46 PM

I'm writing from Napa, having had dinner at Ubuntu last night, a party of two. It began as an entertaining evening, as there was a Chef's Market a block away in the downtown, with throngs of people, great buzz, and a neat cross-section of Napa society represented.

We headed into Ubuntu, which was fully booked, taking notice of the valet parking in the rear only after having hunted around for a parking space for awhile. Be forewarned.

The room is impressive, beautifully designed. Bread and delicious butter, at the right temperature, served right away. The winelist offered a large number of very, very unfamilar bottles. Our Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc, picked pretty much blindly---disappointing. Bland and watery, with no complexity, no finish. That was the only down note of the evening.

Chickpea fries with romesco sauce, perfectly executed. Crisp on the outside, creamy and flavorful throughout, with a sharp but complex romesco sauce. The beets with quinoa was a mixed bag. Chiogga beets simmered in nectarine juice were sweet and mellow. The quinoa was a throw-in, offering not much of a textural note, and not much flavor, but the beets carried the day.

The knockout punches were the strawberry pizza and the cauliflower. The pizza was simply magnificent: A thin crust, very flavorful, with a sofrito of strawberries, herbs, onion and peper taking the place of tomato sauce, covered with a buttery burrata. An amazing twist, never cloying or too fruity, just delicious.

The cauliflower was simply the best thing I have tasted in about a year. Perfect textures of the three cauliflowers, unbelievable aroma, perfect temperature, and some crisp flatbread for spreading. I would NEVER come back to Napa without taking the opportunity to smell that aroma and taste that dish again, if I could avoid it.

No room for dessert. Great service. A terrific evening. Go, but leave me some cauliflower and pizza.

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