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Restaurants & Bars 10

Napa Rose - Somewhat of a disapointment

TomSwift | Mar 31, 200501:26 PM

A friend was in from Boston for a convention in Anaheim so we decided to pick him up for dinner. Knowing that he's a steak guy we decided on Napa Rose, only 5 minutes from his hotel. We arrived 25 minutes early for our 8:00 reservation last night and were shunted into the bar to wait. I did a little walk through and noticed that almost half of the tables were vacant, including the one at which we (3 people) were eventually seated. Clearly a ploy to sell drinks.

Unfortunately, the ambiance/atmosphere of Napa Rose last night didn't match the quality of the food. Yes, it's the Disney Resort, but 95% of the patrons in some combination of shorts, sweats, tee shirts and other "we've just been to Disneyland" attire gave the place an Outback Steakhouse (or Olive Garden, etc. No flame wars, please) feel. The many screaming, crying, wandering between the tables children didn't help, either. I suppose all this can be overlooked, but it is not the quiet elegance of a Valentino or the busy yet restrained pulse of a Josie.

A quite large Sapphire martini was a surprisingly reasonable $8.00. The bread was hot (an all too rare thing in LA) with chewy sourdough rolls, just the thing to mop up the delicious sauces which were to follow, and warm frico on flat bread. We started with the Beach Rock specialty (I preferred the Seven Sins but was outvoted). Served for 2, it was 2 each of shrimp with a black bean compote, pork ribs with a mildly spicy noodle, and chicken breast with an addictive corn and red cabbage slaw. The gimmick is the 500 degree polished rock on which you're supposed to warm the food. Pretty tasty, but I don't think worth $34. The guest's medium-rare boneless rib eye ($36) was pronounced excellent, with sauteed mushrooms and a sauce which he declined. The pan roasted Branzino ($27) was overcooked and dry (admittedly not ordered rare).

The 4 course Vintner's tasting menu ($65) with basically unremarkable wine pairings ($35) was delicious. A single seared scallop "pot pie" with a compote of peas, leeks and cream was incredibly rich. A tomato polenta wraped in applewood smoked bacon with sauteed mushrooms and pencil-thin asparagus with a rich veal stock reduction was wonderful. Boned Colorado rack of lamb was on the rare side of medium-rare (I forgot to specify rare) with al dente green beans, sauteed mushrooms and roasted new potatoes. And with a rich pan sauce. I requested a foie gras course but they didn't have any. They substituted a cheese plate for the sweet dessert, and gave a 20 year-old port to go with. I clearly won the dinner derby.

Service with a smile in the Disney tradition, and our server knew the menu well and had all the movements of a tasting menu down pat. Quite well done. Total for 3 people: 1 martini, 1 tomato juice, 2 glasses wine, 2 coffees and the above, including tax and tip, $305. I wouldn't make the hour and 45 minute drive from SFV to Anaheim just to go there but except for the kids and tourists I was impressed.

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