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Napa Valley Report

AlaskaChowGirl | Apr 14, 200507:38 PM

First let me say thank you to all who post here for great suggestions to my queries as well as the ones I was able to browse through looking for ideas. Hubby and I went to Napa and Sonoma valleys for a week to celebrate our 25th (we married as mere babes) and by fluke were joined off and on by one to four friends who were in the area at the same time – not a small feat seeing how we are all from Alaska. So here’s the report of our restaurant wanderings on the Napa side -

Napa – ZuZu
There were 6 of us and they seated us at a big table upstairs overlooking the lower floor. Its all small plates so we ordered one of everything on the menu to start and shared them around. They were all excellent but we narrowed in on a couple to order seconds of – the lamb chops and the sausage with lentils were a must and the flatiron steak was in there. Service was excellent as well. If you must wait for a table, go to the bar next door for a bit of local flavor.

St Helena – Tra Vigne
Cabbed from Calistoga with none other than Calistoga Cab (thank guys!) so the 6 of us could have fun. It’s a big place with high ceilings but didn’t echo. The service was good tho the drinks were slow. The wine list is extensive and the menu offers a variety. Of note – pappardelle with rabbit and hedgehog mushroom ragu, smoked and braised short ribs with creamy polenta (the signature dish), and the smoked and seared sturgeon with sautéed spinach and white beans.

Calistoga – Kitani Sushi
Do not miss this family operated sushi place. Great sushi and great service – nuff said.

Calistoga – FlatIron Grill
The service was mediocre. They have a hostess station but no hostess, we had to flag down the waiter for drinks and the check, he didn’t really know his stuff, they aren’t big on substitutions. The food was basic grill food and the atmosphere casual. It was fine but the service was disappointing – an off nite?

Not restaurants but musts –

Wine Garage in Calistoga - talk to Todd. This guy has nothing over $25 a bottle. He talks to you about what you like and then makes recommendations. We were there for at least an hour, bought three cases of wine to send home, and have had two of the bottles he suggested which were wonderful. He can give you the history of how he got each wine to his shop and tell you all about the grapes inside.

We spent a day in a “limo” with Dan from Reserve Tours. Its actually a huge SUV and held 5 of us comfortably. I highly recommend this – it is so worth it as he takes you to places you wouldn’t normally get to – no tasting fees, meeting winemakers, and a barrel tasting. We opted for him to get a lunch tray and he took us to Sunshine Market in St Helena to pick it up where I, being the sweet eater that I am, picked out desserts to go with it. Do not miss this place – they have excellent cheeses, deli, bakery, etc.

Hope y’all enjoy the report. If you want more info on anything, post a reply. And watch for the sonoma report.

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