Posted on November 26, 2008 by bayareafoodie
We were excited to try chef Cindy Pawlcyn’s restaurant Go Fish since we had a fantastic meal at her other establishment Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen earlier this year. When we arrived the decor was similar to other Pawlcyn joints — homey and comfortable. The menu was a cross between a Pier 39 seafood shack (with items like chowder/fish & chips) and a Japanese sushi bar. It was a weird combo but I thought if anyone could make it work she could. My first impression of the menu was that the sushi was over priced at $10-20 per roll. Luckily, I came in craving fish not sushi or we would have been in for a whopper of a bill. We did decide to order a Spider roll as an appetizer because I wanted to see if the sushi was worth the hefty price tag. The $12 roll arrived and it was just crab rolled up in rice NO avocado, lettuce or cucumber. It was the most boring, unoriginal version I have ever had, and to boot there was only 5 pieces not 6. Maybe the chef got hungry… For a main course I chose the cod with clams and Mike the branzino with mushrooms. I was surprised to see such a limited selection of fish entrees. When they arrived they were fresh but tasteless. The fish had no seasoning whatsoever, not even salt. We both barely got through our dishes. I will say that the 4 miniature clams on my plate were out-of-sight. I wish I had ordered a big ol’ bucket of them. After all that I was ready to bolt but Mike was still hungry so he ordered dessert. It was the highlight of the night – a pear pandowdy (like a tart). Needless to say we were highly disappointed with our dinner. As we left there was a gang of people waiting to Go Fish… I just don’t see why this place is popular, maybe because it’s one of the few sushi spots in town? I hate to say it but I’d rather go to Red Lobster.
Filed under: Napa Valley | Tagged: Cindy Pawlcyn, food, go fish, napa, restaurant, review, St. Helena | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 24, 2008 by bayareafoodie
For 20 years Tra Vigne has been a Napa staple serving up classic Italian cuisine. When we arrived we were seated in a large booth in the gorgeous open air dining room. We started our dinner with the hand made mozzarella and garlic crostini. It’s as fresh as you can get as it is made the moment you order. This appetizer is becoming one of their signature dishes and it didn’t disappoint. The cheese was smooth and milky and the bread was perfectly browned. Mike and I both opted for house made pasta for our main courses. I chose the rigatoni carbonara and he had the duck risotto with apples and thyme. Mike never orders risotto but the way the server described the dish he couldn’t say no. This was my first carbonara… I’m usually a red sauce gal but for some reason this called to me. The sauce was rich, creamy and peppery with thick slices of bacon. It was delicious, but filling. I could only finish half. Mike was in heaven with his duck which was succulent and tender. He said this was the best risotto he ever had (next to his). We really should have called it a night but, of course, we had to order dessert. Unfortunately it wasn’t a highlight. The gelato tasted like ice milk and the chocolate torte was just so-so. Next time we will pass on dessert and leave on a high note. If you’re looking for a great Italian meal at a reasonable price you can count on Tra Vigne!
Filed under: Napa Valley | Tagged: food, italian, restaurant, review, St. Helena, Tra Vigne | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 15, 2008 by bayareafoodie
For our first night in Napa we decided to check out Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. The owner Cindy Pawlcyn, is the James Beard award-winning cookbook author, Chef and owner of Mustards Grill, so we knew it would be good. It was a beautiful evening so we chose to sit outside on the small patio under a large 100 year old fig tree. Light Jazz music pumped through some speakers. Don’t expect a loud, mardi gras like environment. Some colorful hand blown drinking glasses and rooster signs are as crazy as you will get. Cindy’s serves up home inspired dishes in a charming rustic setting.
Mike and I started our meal by sharing a warm spinach salad with smoked apple bacon, caramelized onions and pouched egg. It was nice and the vinaigrette dressing gave it a tangy kick. For the main course Mike picked the smoked duck with fritter and I had the pan seared halibut with fava bean mash, pickled onions, asparagus and artichokes. Both dishes were remarkable!! Check out those photos, they were almost too pretty to eat…but we did . Mike’s duck was HUGE. The skin was crispy and the meat juicy, it had been cooking all day in a wood burning oven. My halibut was cooked to perfection, light and flaky and the artichokes were magnificent. I love fresh artichokes not the marinated kind in a jar. These were soft and buttery like when I make them at home. Even though we were stuffed we couldn’t pass up a dessert called Campfire pie. I didn’t get a photo because we tore into it as soon as it hit the table. Picture marshmallow fluff filled with peanuts and chocolate chips on top of an oreo cookie crust placed in the oven so it had a meringue like finish. Sooo scrumptious.
I actually enjoyed Cindy’s more than the beloved Mustards. It has all the elements for a perfect restaurant: comfortable atmosphere, awesome food, attentive and fun staff plus very reasonable prices. I can’t wait to go back.
Big Small Plates
Filed under: Napa Valley | Tagged: Cindy Pawlcyn, cindy's backstreet kitchen, duck, food, James Beard, jazz, mustards grill, napa, review, St. Helena, wine | 1 Comment »