Restaurant Review – January 2008

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review January 2008

Napa Valley Grille

Napa Valley Grille
By “The Elusive Epicurean”

I, like many Americans, am an Olympic Champion of armchair living. You know what I’m talking about. Is there anything better than sipping a nice Chardonnay, lounging in bed, and watching someone else exercise on TV? Or reading yet one more issue of Martha Stewart Living with absolutely no intention of macraméing your very own cell phone cozy?

I’m not judging you. I understand. The chill of winter inspires me to do little more than cower beneath my heating blanket, watch bad reality TV and dine on microwave popcorn. It was only through the terror of a crowbar wielding editor that I was motivated to trudge the few miles to Yountville to research this column. The trek was well worth it. Warm and inviting, the Napa Valley Grille has a menu chock full of tempting dishes, many making use of local, seasonal ingredients.

So if you’re reading this review to live vicariously through my culinary experience, I must protest. Turn off Top Chef, put the Stouffer’s back in the freezer, and go get yourself some real food. My words will not do justice to what your taste buds could be experiencing this very moment.

We began with the Hot Crab Fondue ($14.75), which, though delicious, bears little resemblance to fondue. Served with a house made herbed focaccia, the fondue is more a warm pot of parmesan, crab, artichoke and red onion that you can dip, scoop, or spread on your bread (you decide). Think cheesy, gooey goodness with lots and lots of crab. I’m not complaining. I could have made an entrée of it, but unfortunately I had to share.

After the fondue, we had the “Harvest Platter” (insert drum roll, please): air cured beef, coppa ham, pork rillette, prosciutto di parma, salmon tartare, marinated olives, caper berries, apples, crème fraîche, dried figs, raisins, honeycomb, and local artisan cheeses. And yes, I had to steal a menu to recount all of that.

A sucker for anything duck, I couldn’t resist the Crispy Duck Breast with harvest bread pudding, scalloped potatoes and a rich maple demi-glaze ($26.50). The savory bread pudding and sweet demi-glaze complemented the meat and I reluctantly gave samples away to my dining companions. Fortunately, they reciprocated.

Colonel Mustard ordered the American Kobe Tri-tip with sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, bacon, brandy foie gras butter, and sauce bordelaise ($25.75). Miss Scarlet opted for the Boneless Pork Loin ($25.25), which had made it on my short list. Served with sweet potato fritter, classic collard greens, and a whole grain mustard buerre blanc, I could be easily tempted away from the duck on my next visit. The pork loin was one of many selections available from the Napa Valley Grille’s wood burning grill.

Professor Plum, a predictable meat-n-potatoes kind of guy, chose another item from the grill: the Mustard & Herb Crusted New York Steak with watercress salad, house French fries and pink peppercorn jus ($29.25). Predictable though the Professor may be, he does know his stuff, and deemed everything “excellent”.

If I still haven’t seduced you away from the microwave popcorn, try to resist Thursday’s “Slider Night”, where a Kobe Slider and a beer are all of 5 bucks. If brew’s not your thing, don’t despair. Signature Cocktails are 5 bucks each, too. I won’t be cowering under the heating blanket on Thursdays, I assure you.

http://www.napavalleymarketplace.com

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