Explore More Cities › +
Discover the unexpected in the Bay Area. Explore All of SF Bay Area
Restaurants & Bars 9

Napa – Why I do NOT like Ubuntu

rworange | Mar 9, 200801:28 PM

I had a problem writing this without making this restaurant sound like everything it is not.

If Ubuntu is about harmony and humanity, then on my first visit they succeeded on every point … food, service, and atmosphere.

Ubuntu serves sunshine on a plate. There is a real warmth and comfort about the room and service.

This in the dead of winter … so to speak … when even the best farmers markets only sell dreary root vegetables and the type of greens that could survive Armageddon.

Ubuntu is another reason to look forward to spring and summer. If they performed this magic in February … what will July bring?

I had …

- Artichokes and burrata
- Roasted beets and oranges
- Bergamot and white chocolate deconstructed parfait with seasonal citrus
- Complimentary warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies and pieces of house-made toffee
- Lemonade

This sounds simple and boring, but like Chowhound poster Morton the Mousse said in his report “the food is complex, multi-layered, nuanced, and perfectly balanced”

Everything was wonderful, but best was the beautiful parfait. .

Bergamot is so easy to overdo but the frozen white chocolate log had just the right touch. It was topped with a citrus snow. Colorful ruby-red beads made from blood oranges, red gelee cubes, pieces of various types of citrus … sliced candied kumquat, tangerines and oranges … were scattered on the plate. There was a scoop of lemony sorbet and three of the world’s lightest meringue sticks.

It sounds complicated and fussy … it was not. It of was like a tour of the best of the seasons citrus flavors. It was fun with so many tastes, colors, textures and temperatures.

There can’t possibly be a better burata than the light, delicate Bellwether that surprisingly complemented the tender sliced artichoke hearts and shaved fennel with a herby dressing. There is no way this burata could be compared to mozzarella.

Ubuntu knows how to handle and serve cheese. I’ve had some of these cheeses before and they taste different here … perfect … and perfectly paired … like the airy, tangy Bellwether cheese with the pretty Technicolor beet salad with bright oranges and greens.

I am not sure what the beautiful blush sauce was with the gorgeous red and gold beets, however, like all the dishes it was about harmony. As Michael Bauer said in his review “Flavors … are combined so meticulously that each element makes the other ones even better’

Only some tables got the complementary cookies and candy. I’m not sure if it had to do with timing of the check with the cookies coming out of the oven

The warm quarter-sized cookies full of oozing chocolate chips were so delicious it is impossible to believe they were vegan.

The toffee (not vegan) was just buttery deliciousness and had a nice snap.

Perfect lemonade … not too sweet or sour … though a bit pricy. However, there were ‘refills’ … they brought another fresh glass rather than dumping more on top of melted ice.

Yet … Ubuntu is no big deal … and that is what precisely makes it so good. It makes the complex seem right and easy and comfortable. This is how food should taste … how it should be served

I have difficultly remembering this restaurant doesn’t serve meat. They are correct. It is NOT a vegetarian restaurant, but a restaurant that serves vegetables, cheese and eggs … exquisitely.

I put off going here because … sheesh … restaurant AND yoga studio. I forgot about the yoga studio completely and asked if there was a dining room upstairs … it was the yoga studio. It is perfectly integrated into the whole.

Don’t know if this is true or not but Ubuntu comes across as a place where the owners are really happy with what they are doing and that translates to the food, service and space.

It is probably one of the most significant restaurants in the Bay Area, yet it doesn’t come across as pretentious … just cozy and right.

Morton the Mousse’s post captures the feel of the place perfectly

“I love the stone walls, the warmth of the lighting, the feel of the place. … when you walk into the restaurant, it smells FANTASTIC. Like great food"

Usually I write a report in about 10 minutes after returning from the restaurant. . Very occasionally I need a few days to consider if my initial enthusiasm is justified.

After some thought, I’ve decided I do NOT like Ubuntu … I love it.

The food is great … no … listen … the food is great.

Want to stay up to date with this post? Sign Up Now ›
Log In or Sign Up to comment

Recommended From CH