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Restaurants & Bars

Napa Valley Weekend (long)

Hannah | Dec 9, 2003 10:44 AM

My SO (Tony) and I spent a couple of days in the Napa Valley for our anniversary. We stayed at the Vintage Inn in Yountville (wonderful jet tubs).

Thursday night after we checked in and being that it was raining we thought that Market in St. Helena with its’ focus on comfort food would be fine for a quick bite. I wasn't expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised. The interior with original stone on the walls was very nice. We started with the crab cake appetizer (which could have been a main course) there was a nice amount of meat in the cake that wasn't overwhelmed by the binding that held it together. I had the cream of celery root soup. Very nice. The celery root and the cream complimented each other well.
Tony had the pulled pork sandwich on a ciabatta (sp) roll with fries. I had the mac and cheese. I think this was the best mac and cheese I've ever had. It was rich and tangy (they said they use sour cream in addition the fiscalini cheddar)with bits of crisp Hobb's Bacon, chopped chives with some panko bread crumbs on top. I had this with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The crispness of the wine cut the richness of the mac and cheese perfectly. This meal really hit the spot

On Friday it was only a bit misty and sprinkling. It was wonderful the valley was green and peppered with colors of bright orange, reds and yellows. We started our wine tasting at Burgess which I'm sure on a nice day would have had breathtaking views. However we were not able to see much of the valley. A friend recommended this winery to us. The woman who poured for us was lovely. I'm not a huge Merlot fan but that was the one wine I liked there.
After Burgess we went to Clos Pegase. Very interesting building with some nice sculptures scattered throughout the property.
After Clos Pegase we went to Chateau Montelena. Very nice grounds and I picked up a great, slightly dry Reisling.
After we walked around Calistoga for a bit we went to Schramsberg for a tasting. This was truly a wonderful experience. The tour of the caves and the explanation of how they make their sparkling wines was fantastic. For the tasting we tried the ’99 Blanc de Blanc, the ’99 Blanc de Noirs, ’97 J. Schram, the ’97 Reserve, the Crement, and the ’92 Blanc de Noirs. After the yeasty ’92 Blanc de Noirs I had a craving for a nice aged parmesean. We stopped by Dean and Deluca for nourishment. The parmesean was great.
Dinner was the disappointment of this day. I made reservations at the Martini House in St. Helena and must have had four interactions with reservationists there. I had requested either table 21 or 22 (tables by the fire place) because we sat there last year and had a wonderful experience. I understand a request is just that a request. When we arrived for our 7:30 seating both tables were filled. The hostess we could wait 30 min. for one of the tables to empty, but I glanced over and saw that it would probably be much longer than 30 minutes as both tables were still in the middle of their main courses. Had we waited for one of those tables to empty we would have been waiting till 9:00pm. For dinner we started with a garden salad and the cream of mushroom soup both of which we shared. The salad was nothing to write home about, the cream of mushroom soup was great. A nice truffle oil was drizzled in the soup which gave a good extra mushroom kick. For dinner Tony ordered a barley mushroom risotto with Chanterelles and shaved parmesean. The barley was great with the earthy mushrooms. I had the pork with root vegetable gratin. The pork was cooked perfectly, however the sauce with macerated raisins and whole grain mustard tasted off. I think the whole grain mustards or the amount of mustard overwhelmed the pork. We had a bottle of the Flowers Pinot-Anderson gail I believe. Like all wines at the Martini House it was decanted. Towards the end of dinner our waitress was refilling our wine glasses and ended up spilling quite a bit on the table. She was apologetic and I understand these things happen, it just deepened the disappointment of our dining experience. For dessert Tony had their version of a “nutter butter.” It looked good and he was happy, but I didn’t feel the tasted of the dessert would do anything for the cheeses I had with the last of my pinot. All in I was not very happy with the level of service or the lack of attention paid to a request I made for that special occasion.

The highlight of our Saturday tasting was the Caymus tasting. There were only four of us at the tasting and it was great. We tried the Sauvignon Blanc, this was really interesting because had I been blind folded I would have guessed it to be a white burgundy. Deep yellow in color and nice layers of flavor. Next we tried the Zin and of course their Cab. Overall we had a lovely weekend except for the one hiccup at the Martini House.

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