Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review May 2008
By Dorothy and John Salmon
We love Celadon and feel like we are “coming home” when we walk in the door. For this experience, we were joined by Lauren and Alex Ackerman, two of our favorite dinner companions. Alex is 12 years old and already an experienced and savvy food critic. Lucky for us, we were greeted at the door by the warm and lovely Judi, one of our favorite folks in Napa. Judi was Chef Greg Cole’s first employee and has been with him for twelve years. Her infectious smile, warmth and charm make Celadon sparkle. Anne, our server and Carlos, our buser, were polished, knowledgeable and friendly.
According to Alex, Celadon is one of his favorite places EVER. We agree. Celadon is best described as “Napa Casual Elegant” with an interesting mix of locals and visitors who enjoy the unique vintage poster collection, great food, wonderful brickwork and historic charm of downtown Napa in the Napa Mill Project at 5th and Main.
Celadon’s cuisine is “Global Comfort Food.” It is award winning and served in a beautiful dining room or in the lovely outdoor courtyard. The seasonally influenced menu features flavors from the Mediterranean, Asia and the Americas. Celadon serves lunch and dinner and reservations are recommended by calling (707) 254-9690 or using http://www.opentable.com. The San Francisco Chronicle boasts that Celadon is “a wonderful combination of laid-back and glamorous.” Zagat gives them an “Award of Distinction.” Wine Spectator gives them an “Award of Excellence” and proclaims that they were “one of the 10 great places to dine at the bar.” We give Celadon an award for helping to change the face of dining in Downtown Napa and consistently keeping us well fed since they opened!
Chef Greg Cole not only owns Celadon, but also Cole’s Chop House just up Main Street from Celadon. Greg is not only a great chef. He is a community visionary who took a risk twelve years ago, betting that downtown Napa could become vibrant and exciting. HE made it happen by opening Celadon in a small space next to the Opera House and helped to pave the way for what is now a collection of wonderful restaurants in downtown Napa. He is known locally as the “go to guy” for the community, a great husband and father, and in his “spare time” he hosts his own radio show on KVON 1440 AM on Tuesday mornings from 9 to 10 AM.
We have known Greg for 12 years and have watched him create and operate great restaurants through good times and tough times without a blip. He is a true entrepreneur and Napa hero.
While Greg is busy going back and forth on Main Street to either restaurant, Marcos Uribe shines as his Chef de Cuisine at Celadon. His menu is eclectic and delicious. According to Alex, “Everyone should come here!”
In addition to the great wine list Celadon has a full bar and some exotic drinks. If you are up to it, try an old mill martini made with Square On rye vodka, King Eider vermouth served with a blue cheese stuffed olive for $10. We skipped the cool bar drinks, went right to the wine list and ordered a bottle of 2006 Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc for $29. Served with a fabulous small table size baguette of sliced Acme bread. We started dinner with our very favorite flash fried calamari with a spicy chipotle chili glaze and pickled ginger for only $13. You won’t find better calamari. The recipe is included with this review!
For starters, Alex had the Maine crab cake with frisee and mache salad and Meyer lemon aioli for $13. Lauren ordered the special grilled asparagus salad with cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and mixed greens drizzled with tomato vinaigrette for $13. John ordered the hearts of romaine salad with Caesar dressing, croutons and parmesan cheese for $9, and I enjoyed the sweet coconut friend prawns with mango, cucumber and greens, with sesame-citrus vinaigrette for $14.
For dinner, Alex ordered the endive and pear salad with blue cheese, candied walnuts and honey mustard vinaigrette. Alex claims the candied walnuts are “the best in the world and should be sold in elementary and middle schools as a snack.” All this for $11! Alex also ordered the macadamia nut crusted goat cheese with port-poached figs, apples and crostini for $11. Lauren ordered the special lamb dinner that was out of this world for $25. John ordered the special pasta with rock shrimp, which he said was incredible for $23, and I ordered the Tagarashi crusted ahi that was delicious for $27.
Since we are restaurant reviewers, we didn’t want to be accused of slipping up on the job, so we forced ourselves to order dessert. If we didn’t, we thought “what kind of restaurant reviewers would we be? We ordered the chocolate brownie that looks incredible and tastes 50 times better than it looks. We fought over that one. We also ordered Celadon’s famous gingerbread with huckleberry sauce and gelato, and the apple blackberry crisp with the oatmeal topping and vanilla bean gelato. All of these “to die for” desserts are around $9. Feel free to bring the kids with you to Celadon. They have a handy Kids Menu with plenty of healthy great tasting kid attractions for $7.50.
Celadon is FABULOUS! Now that the River Walk is open, you can spend an afternoon or an evening enjoying the best of the city of Napa’s renaissance.
500 Main Street, Suite G
Napa, CA 94559
tel (707) 254-9690
fax (707) 254-9692
Lunch 11:30-2:30 Mon-Fri
Afternoon Menu 2:30-5:00 Mon-Fri
Dinner 5:00-9:00 Sun-Thurs
Fri and Sat ‘til 10:00
Flash Fried Calamari with a Spicy Chipotle Chili Glaze and Pickled Ginger
Chipotle Chili Glaze
1-7 ounce can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 LB orange blossom honey
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
Combine the above ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
2 LB fresh squid, cut into rings
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
salt and pepper
peanut oil for deep frying
1/2 cup pickled ginger
1/4 cup chopped chives
-Heat oil to 375°F.
-Season the calamari rings with salt and pepper.
-Toss the squid in the flour to coat evenly, shake off excess.
-Deep fry until golden brown, about two minutes.
-Drain the squid and combine in a bowl with one cup of
chili glaze, sliced pickled ginger and chives.
-Arrange on a platter or on plates with reserved glaze
-Makes six to eight appetizer portions.