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Restaurants & Bars 3

Napa: Ubuntu - Andante butter and the first strawberries of spring … roasted

rworange | Apr 29, 200801:11 AM

When I stopped by tonight, the carrot and lemongrass soup was fine but I had no plans to report.

However, dessert was outstanding and deserves its own post. It the type of dish where Ubuntu excels, IMO.

Menu description: Roasted strawberries, frozen yogurt mousse, saffron cream, lavender meringue.

First of all, if Ubuntu has any dessert with meringue … order it … this is the second time it impressed me and this time it was even more delicate. It was in curly chip form … think shrimp chips in shape.

The lavender-flecked white chips were scattered over the various creams. The flavor being very background but … if lavender can do this … giving the dish umami … it intensified the other flavors. The chips literally melted my tounge … almost like cotton candy.

There were so many textures, flavors and temperatures … tangy, cool yogurt, whipped, rich yet light saffron cream … what I would imagine eating clouds would be like. A dried strawberry dust was sprinkled on one side … leaving nothing but intense soul of the berry.

Be warned that there are only four strawberries but the roasting resulted in delicious, juicy strawberry-ness. I liked that play between the dust and the roasted berries being the extreme opposite ... as lush as possible without turning to liquid.

I also had the asparagus mentioned favorably in other posts … roscoe’s delta asparagus preserved lemon coulis, SYLVETTA ARUGULA

Shock … copying that from the menu I just noticed it was vegan … impossible … nothing vegan could taste this good.

I thought that nothing could beat Zuckerman’s asparagus, but roscoe’s is even more flavorful. I love the presentation with asparagus in many forms … whole spears, shaved long spears and even a pool of asparagus puree. The drops of preserved lemon coulis on one side (and I belive some candied lemon slivers) were the perfect complement.

Lovely little crumb-like ‘croutons’ added crunch. What in the world did they use to flavor these? Up until just now I would have said lots of butter … and yet they are vegan.

In my usual sophisticated manner I asked ‘so … what’s the green foam stuff”

That was the asparagus puree. However the answer was fascinating because of the description of all the thought that went into the components of this dish and how they were meant to complement one another.

Carrot and lemongrass soup with whipped coconut and slivered carrots was a nice presentation … the carrots of various colors on a bed of coconut cream topped with feathery green carrot tops. The cold carrot soup was poured over it from a pitcher.

It was what I needed on this hot, hectic day. I liked the crunch of the carrots with the smooth soup and the fresh greens gave it a nice accent.

Working down the non-alcoholic beverage list the iced tea was lovely. It needed no sugar.

Ubuntu is now serves Andante butter for an additional charge. Although I was going to skip the bread, Morton the Mousse’s mention of how great the butter is made me want to try it … details here

Be aware that one cube is sweet and the other is salted with hand-harvested sea salt. The sweet is nice, but the salted is stellar.

My only complaint is that it is too much for one person. I wish they would serve a half portion and give a choice of sweet or salted. One man at the bar ordered it and couldn’t finish it himself. I was damned if I was going to leave five bucks of butter … and it wasn’t the type if item that could be doggie-bagged … or would that be veggie-bagged.

I continue to love Ubuntu. It gives me that same satisfaction that Bizou did before it closed and reinvented itself. Bizou was my refuge … delicious food and a place when even times were the worst I knew I’d feel better at the end and if my worries weren’t forgotten they didn’t exist for a while.

I had a horrid day and arrived at Ubuntu as stressed as a guitar string wound too tight. By the time I walked out the door, the music of the meal made the world seem right again. If this were my last meal, I’d die happy.

I look forward to enjoying the seasons change at Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

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