Last night, Mr. No Peanuts and I shared a lovely, early dinner at the Napa Valley Grille (NVG) in Westwood. The food was excellent, if a bit pricey, the service was professional and smooth, décor was pleasant and relaxed. Based on this meal, and my prior experiences here, I highly recommend NVG if you want to eat in or near Westwood.
I decided to post this review because I searched Chowhound last night for advice and found mostly favorable, recent comments – but no restaurant specific reviews. To summarize the recent CH findings: good for groups and parties, yummy food for DineLA, good place to take parents or grandparents in Westwood, and has wine flights.
We chose NVG because Mr. No Peanuts was on the UCLA campus and we had a later meeting near-by. Other restaurants we considered included Orris, Upstairs 2, Il Moro and Fritto Misto (o.k. I always consider this one) We did not have a reservation, and walked into an empty restaurant at 5:30 p.m. By 7 p.m., the restaurant and bar were about 80% full.
Valet parking is fast, located right in front of the restaurant, and reasonably priced. (Tip: it is less expensive to valet than to self-park in the garage next door.)
NVG’s menu is very seasonal, with an herbaceous bent. Most dishes have several layers (i.e. sauce, and herbs, and pasta/meat, and vegetables, and oil/butter). Portions are on the medium-to-large side and are plated nicely in a casual style (see my cel-phone pics attached.)
I chose a pre fixe menu that included two starter options, two entree options and two dessert options for $39. The server brought an olive bread and regular bread plate, quickly, along with an eggplant spread and garlic clove/herb sprig (rosemary?) in olive oil.
My starter of young arugula, small shrimp salad with fennel in a Meyer vinaigrette was so satisfying that I ate every bite. Mr. No Peanuts ordered a mushroom papadarelle starter from the pre-fixe menu that was so tasty that I thought he might lick the bowl.
For my entrees, I received a succulent Neiman Ranch pork porterhouse (huge piece) over buttery grits served with a generous side of sautéed bitter rapini. Mr. No Peanuts got swordfish, perfectly grilled, served with fingerling potatoes in (more) mushroom sauce.
We shared my dessert, which was a perfectly-executed “goat cheese” cheesecake. The traditional style graham cracker crust did not have added sugar and the goat cheese added a tangy front flavor. However, the star of the desert was a blood orange “salad” on the side…didn’t identify the flavors precisely, but it definitely included ginger and mint. My non-dessert lover guy ate most of it, because it was that great.
Total, with tip – 2 entrees, 2 starters, water and one dessert was $110
This is an ideal place for a family lunch or dinner, or a business lunch. It’s not very romantic, but the noise level is low enough that it’s a nice setting for two or three two. The restaurant has a great set-up for groups, including several private dining rooms (I peeked…one had about 5 round tables with seating for 40, charming set-up, including beautiful floral centerpieces.)
Unfortunately, we were not drinking before our later meeting – so we didn’t get a chance to try a wine flight. However we did drool on the wine list, and admired the full bar.