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Redd Wood

Famed chef Richard Reddington has opened a casual Italian eatery in Yountville down the street from his Michelin star restaurant REDD.

We arrived early on a Friday night and the restaurant was pretty empty except for the mini bar area which was standing room only. The tables around us seemed to be filled with locals as they knew the staff and brought plenty of their own wine. We were seated in a cozy corner booth that had a view of the entire restaurant. We decided to get a sampling of eats to share. We started off with the grilled artichokes with balsamic & Parmesan cheese which was crazy good but messy. I wouldn’t recommend ordering if you are on a first date. The balsamic glaze ended up all over our fingers and dripping down our arms (but maybe this just happens to us 🙂 ).

Next, potato gnocchi w/ duck leg, rosemary, olives & pancetta. There was no real sauce just the natural juices from the duck. LOVED this.


Of course we had to try one of the wood fired pizzas. We went with the basic fresh mozzarella, tomato & basil. I was expecting this to be my favorite part of our meal but it wasn’t. It was good but the crust was a little over-charred which left a burnt taste in my mouth. Minor mishap.


We finished with the chocolate caramel tart w/ praline & sea salt which was highly reccomended by our server. It was super rich so we had a hard time finishing it. If you are a chocolate lover this dessert is for you!

I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived since the reviews I had read were hit and miss but I really enjoyed the food, service and vibe so I will definitely return.

Rating: 

Website: http://www.redd-wood.com/

Redd Wood on Urbanspoon

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The French Laundry


What did we do for our 5 year wedding anniversary? We went to one of the best restaurants in the world…the French Laundry owned by Chef Thomas Keller!! How did we get a reservation? See below. It was a gorgeous July day in the Napa valley when we arrived for our three hour lunch. As we entered we were welcomed, congratulated on our anniversary and promptly escorted upstairs to our table. We were the first to arrive to the small dining room. As our waiter described the menu the other 4 tables in our area filled with guests from China, Florida, Arizona and New York but no VIPs or celebrities. Due to the close proximity of the tables it was easy to hear the conversations around us especially the woman who decided she was going to make and receive phone calls during the first half of her meal (she did keep them short but still so rude!).

Deciding what to order was easy as we were not going to do any of the supplements and for the few courses that we had a choice we chose one of each so we could try everything served that day. Mike instantly fell in love with the 100+ page wine list presented on an Apple ipad (the technology not the prices…). He decided on two half bottles to accompany our meal. We started with a Lazy Creek Riesling and ended with a Biale Black Chicken Zinfandel. Together they ran about $125 and were some of the cheapest bottles on the list which brought our total bill to $720. Both wines were wonderful but the Black Chicken blew us away so much that we are going to visit the winery next week.

The menu for 7.8.2011

Amuse-bouche #1
Gruyère Cheese Puffs

Amuse-bouche #2
Salmon Tartare atop a Crème Fraiche Filled Poppyseed Cone

Course #1
“ O Y S T E R S  A N D  P E A R L S ”
“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar

Course #2
S A L A D  O F  H A W A I I A N  H E A R T S  O F  P A L M
Lychee, French laundry Garden Cucumber and Greek Basil

Course #3
A T L A N T I C  C O D  “C O N F I T  A  L A  M I N U T E”
Brentwood Corn Mousse, Summer Squash, Parsley Shoots and Demi-Sec Tomatoes

Course #4
S W E E T  B U T T E R – P O A C H E D  M A I N E  L O B S T E R  T A I L
Charred Leek, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Piedmont Hazelnuts and Vanilla-Sauternes Emulsion

S A N T A  B A R B A R A  S P O T  P R A W N S
Green Mission Fig, Young Coconut, Hass Avocado, Red Jalapeno and Cilantro

Course #5
L I B E R T Y  F A R M  P E K I N  D U C K
“Confit de Canard,” Steamed Bun, Nantes Carrots, Radish, Edamame and “Sauce Japanaise”

D E V I L ‘S  G U L C H  R A N C H  “E P A U L E  D E  L A P I N”
Summer Pole Beans, Smoked Garlic Puree and Hobbs’ Bacon “Jus”

Course #6
S N A K E  R I V E R  F A R M S  “C A L O T T E  D E  B O E U F  G R I L L E E”
“Pommes Darphin,” Chanterelle Mushrooms “a la Greque,” Quail Egg and English Peas

Course #7
“B R I L L A T  S A V A R I N”
Pistachio “Pain de Genes,” Celery Branch and French Laundry Garden Strawberries

Course #8
N E C T A R I N E  S O R B E T
Earl Grey Tea “Granite,” Honey and Grilled Nectarines

Course #9
C A R A M É L I A  C H O C O L A T E  “ C R È M E U X ”
Gros Michel Banana, Georgia Peanuts, “Dentelle” and Salted Popcorn Ice Cream

“Î L E  F L O T T A N T E”
Lemongrass, Meiwa Kumquat, Black Sesame and Ginger “Anglaise”

ANNIVERSARY BANANA CAKE

M I G N A R D I S E S:
6 Truffles (hazelnut, cherry, ginger, meyer lemon, olive oil, peanut butter & jelly)
Cold Espresso with Cappuccino Foam & Sugar Doughnuts
Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts from Hawaii

PARTING GIFT:
Shortbread Cookies

Our experience in photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lunch, like dinner, includes a couple Amuse-bouche items followed by 9 courses and concludes with Mignardises which are bite-size desserts. All the dishes were prepared perfectly and arrived at timely intervals. Mike’s favorite course was the devil’s gulch rabbit. He oohed and aahed through every bite. The thing I enjoyed most I hate to say was the desserts. Even though the beef melted in my mouth the caramel mousse with salted popcorn ice cream was off the charts. At the end of our meal we also received a small banana cake for our anniversary. As it was being placed on the table Mike told the server that banana was the top tier of our wedding cake which the server in turn said with a smile…we did our research. It was a nice coincidence.

About the service…you would think that a place that requires men to wear a jacket even at lunch (in California) would be uptight and stuffy, but our servers were all super friendly, down to earth and casual in their approach. They didn’t speak only when spoken to but engaged us in conversation about where we were from, how long we would be in town and what other plans we had while in town. We found that very refreshing.

Lunch vs. dinner… I was psyched that we got a reservation on our exact anniversary date but mildly disappointed that we didn’t get an evening seating. After finishing our meal we were extremely pleased that we had come for lunch because we were stuffed. We didn’t even finish half of our Mignardises and couldn’t imagine having to go to bed immediately following that food marathon. We couldn’t eat for the rest of the day. Another bonus was prior to the sweet portion of our meal we were offered the opportunity to stretch our legs. Being able to take a short walk outside in the sun and check out the garden across the street was just what we needed after 2 hours of sitting and probably not an option if dining late at night. I wouldn’t change a thing about our time spent at the French Laundry.

Rating:

Website: http://www.frenchlaundry.com/

How to get a reservation at one of the 16 tables? Perseverance is the key… just keep trying and you will get in. I read all the tips online about how to get an elusive reservation. It really was not as difficult as everyone says. It may not be the exact time you want but you will get something, especially if you are in the area for a long weekend… although booking a table for 2 is more difficult than 4+ because they have fewer small tables. 2 months to the calendar date I began dialing at 9:58am (they open at 10am) and was able to get through to a reservation agent by 10:20ish. On the two days I called all reasonable times for dinner (before 9pm) were taken but lunch and late night dining was available. I ultimately went with a lunch opening I found on opentable because Mike goes to bed early and I didn’t want him sleeping through dinner. On opentable reservations would randomly pop up between 9:30-10:20am. Another option is to have your hotel or credit card concierge call, but in my case both only got me wait-listed. I don’t think they are hitting the phone lines at 10am…

In the late 1920′s the building housed a French steam laundry

French Laundry on Urbanspoon

Ad Hoc Brunch

Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc serves up Brunch every Sunday from 10-1pm and it’s become supremely popular. We arrived at 10:10 and the placed was full by 10:30. It’s a 3 course meal for $34.  I had heard from others that the Brunch menu included Bouchon pastries, yogurt and then a choice of a breakfasty main dish (waffles, pancakes, eggs) but on our visit the format had changed. This is the menu we received on May 16, 2010 (no choices available).

Ice berg lettuce with buttermilk dressing, red onions, apples and walnuts

Steak & scrambled eggs with creme fraiche, wild mushroom ragu and fava beans

Oven roasted potatoes

Beignets covered in sugar with strawberry, vanilla and chocolate dipping sauces

The salad was good but nothing special. The steak and eggs on the other hand was a masterpiece. It still amazes me how every single bite is perfectly seasoned. The man knows how to use salt! The beignets were divine even though they were more like donuts; dipped in a combo of vanilla-strawberry sauce was delish. We left satisfied but not stuffed (which is always a good thing).

Next visit I would make my reservation for a later time. It definitely is more of an early lunch menu than a breakfast. I don’t usually wake up and have a salad with my french press.

See our past Ad Hoc adventures:
Fried Chicken night
Pork dinner

Bottega


Mike and I took my sister and her husband to Napa for a weekend before they moved from the Bay Area to Hawaii. We decided we would dine at Bottega, Michael Chiarello’s newest creation. On the night we arrived he was actually in the house. While waiting for our table he walked through the bar and mingled with guests. As he was making his way back to the kitchen he made a comment to my sister and brother-in-law. The waiting area is small and the place was packed so my sister was sitting on her husband’s lap. Chef Chiarello said something like  “You guys look comfortable… I’m gonna bring you a menu, actually maybe just dessert.”  (at lease that’s what I think I heard — it was noisy so I could be a little off but that was the jist).

Soon after we were seated at a large round table in the side dining area. We started our meal with a raw fish appetizer and fresh mozzarella. For mains, I chose the seafood stew, Mike had the Quail and my sister and hubby shared a giant porterhouse steak and fries. For dessert we had a yummy cookie plate and a tart. The food and service was very good definitely worthy of a Top Chef Master but we didn’t expect anything less. For years Mike & I have been fans of the NapaStyle empire Chiarello created. If you haven’t heard about his wine club check it out. We have been members for over 2 years and we love it.

Pictured: Mozzarella (top left), Fish app served on a salt rock (top right), Stew (bottom left), Quail (bottom right)

Rating: drumstick rating drumstick rating drumstick rating halfdrumstick

Website: http://www.botteganapavalley.com/

Note: This dinner occurred in May 2009.
Bottega on Urbanspoon

Bouchon Bakery

bouchonbakery

If you can believe it we have never been to the Bouchon Bakery. Since it’s located across the street from NapaStyle we decided to stop by and grab some sweets and breakfast for the following morning. It’s a tiny little shop with many french bakery items to choose from. We purchased the following:

bouchongoodies

Nutter butter, coffee cake, walnut roll, Thomas Keller oreo cookie (TKO), blueberry muffin, chocolate bouchon (not pictured)

Everything was very good and even tasted fresh the next day. My favorite was the blueberry muffin and the TKO. Mike’s was the coffee cake and the Nutter butter. I think this will be a regular stop on future Napa trips.

Website: http://www.bouchonbakery.com/
Bouchon Bakery on Urbanspoon

NapaStyle Yountville / Paninoteca & Wine Bar

napastyle-sign

We headed back to Napa for my bday weekend. First stop was Michael Chiarello’s flagship NapaStyle store in Yountville. It was not exactly what I expected. The space was small and packed to the gills. Things it has that you won’t find at other locations include an olive oil bar, house-made salami section as well as a cafe. I was most impressed with the Panini cafe called Paninoteca. Mike and I had lunch there and the sandwiches were terrific. Very fresh, tasty and light. On the way out we picked up a jug of the NapaStyle everyday olive oil. It tasted delicious.

napastylechick

Toasted spice chicken with braised potatoes

napastylesteak

Grilled flank steak with red onions and blue cheese

Shout out to the weather gods…thanks for the fantabulous weather. It was one of the nicest weekends I have experienced in Napa. On November 14th it was 86 degrees! At that time of year it’s normally in the 60’s. I was wearing shorts and flip flops. 😎

Address:
V Marketplace
6525 Washington St.
Yountville, CA

Ad Hoc part II – Fried Chicken Night

THE Fried Chicken everyone goes gaga over

Typical conversation about Ad Hoc:

Have you been to Ad Hoc?
Did you have the fried chicken?
Oh, my gosh it’s the best chicken I’ve ever eaten. It’s life changing bla,bla,bla

Back in May we did go to Ad hoc but not on fried chicken night. We instead had a marvelous pork dinner. If you are not familiar with Thomas Keller’s beloved restaurant in Yountville, Ca read this past post.

Mike and I returned to Ad Hoc to finally try the legendary fowl. We arrived on July 28 super syked and ready to devourer some breasts and wings. Here was our menu for the evening:

First Course - Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad with house cured speck, sweet 100 tomatoes, red torpedo onions, herb-cream dressing

Second Course - Buttermilk Fried Chicken brentwood yellow corn & yukon gold potatoes

Third Course - The Cheese Board with berry jam & medjool dates

Fourth Course - Pecan Tarts with whipped vanilla cream & caramel sauce

The answer to every ones question…Did it live up to the hype? Unfortunately for me – No…as I have stated in the past I like my chicken with a thin salty skin. Keller’s chicken didn’t have either of those components. His chicken has a thick herby skin. Good, but not my style. Mike enjoyed it. At least I can now say — been there, done that!

My favorite parts of the meal were the two sides. The corn was so sweet I didn’t mind the kernels stuck in my teeth and when I die I want to be buried in a vat of that creamy buttery mash. Just because I wasn’t crazy about the chicken doesn’t mean I like Ad Hoc any less. The food is amazing and I love the concept of the restaurant. It still gets 5 drumsticks in my book and I will be back. I look forward to trying a fish and beef menu.

Tasty Tip: If you want to try it for yourself a fellow food blogger has a calendar that lists all the monthly Ad Hoc fried chicken nights. For those of you who can’t make it to Napa Keller’s chick recipe can be found here or to try my version go here.

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