Restaurant Review – March 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review March 2009

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The Little Gourmet…
A Treasured Experiece For Kids, Parents and Grandparentsega Ristorante

By Dorothy and John Salmon

Taking a two year old and a four year old out to lunch is often a hair-raising task that parents, grandparents and restaurants must tackle with patient diplomacy worthy of the United Nations. Not so, when we took two of our six grandchildren to lunch at the Little Gourmet, which is located at 1040 Main Street behind the Opera House and next to Cole’s Chop House.

We began our adventure by skipping over the Napa Creek Bridge leading to the Little Gourmet. Four year old Arden was intent (with mixed success) on teaching her two year old cousin Wil how to skip. When we arrived at the Little Gourmet we were greeted by the owner, Tom Blix, who, with his wife Judy, owns The Little Gourmet. They have a four year old, so they REALLY know firsthand what makes kids happy!

Before we were seated, Arden and Wil checked out the Little Gourmet’s inside dining area to check out the cool toys they could bring outside with them to the table. VERY good idea for a kid’s restaurant! Tom then seated us outside on the lovely patio so that we could eat lunch and watch the river ducks at the same time.

The inside décor is kid friendly, warm, and obviously geared to family dining which often requires industrial strength clean up following a meal. Tom and Judy and their staff take all that in stride and really enjoy having little kids in their restaurant. They decided to make The Little Gourmet a place where local families can enjoy a meal with children, have a fabulous Napa Valley glass of wine, often from local family wine makers, and let the kids experience healthy food with kid-friendly names like “Monkey Burgers” and “Chicken in a Sleeping Bag.” The Little Gourmet invites children to experience healthy food in a fashion that makes them feel empowered and respected. Nice touch!

Our lunch was enjoyable, fun and a very tasty experience. Arden is very mature, feminine, smart and funny. Wil is your typical two year old boy, in love with his cousin Arden and willing to do almost anything to make her laugh. Arden made the lunch selection for all of us. I figure she has her Grandmother’s personality! The Little Gourmet has “A Grown Up Menu” with wonderful selections like Cobb Salad, Tiger Shrimp Salad with avocado and orange, and a grilled, organic Neiman Ranch hamburger. We decided, just for fun, to order from the kids menu.

Our lunch was filled with amusing experiences. Wil was fascinated by the Snakes and Worms and the Monte Cristo Kites. Being a two year old, he ate the Snakes and Worms with his fingers and practiced his best fork techniques on the Monte Cristo Kites. That gave Arden the opportunity to whisper to us that he obviously is not that smart, since everyone knows you eat a sandwich with your hands and eat noodles with a fork! We explained to her that Baby Wil was better suited to picking up the noodles with his fingers and spearing the sandwich with his kid sized fork. She sighed and then said ,“Well, he is a boy!”

Arden loved her lunch, but she was more involved in duck watching. So, Wil ate everything on his plate and on hers. We had a wonderful time. The staff at The Little Gourmet is fabulous, patient and kind.

We recommend The Little Gourmet to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitters as a great place to take kids anytime, especially before or after a movie at the Cinedome, which is just across the parking lot from The Little Gourmet. This is the ideal Saturday outing or weekday, early dinner experience for families who live in Napa or happen to be visiting. The Little Gourmet is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm and 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The restaurant can be reserved for a Birthday Party too! Check out their website at http://www.thelittlegourmetnapa.com and give them a call at (707) 257-7700.

Here are the interesting selections we ordered for lunch:
Monte Cristo Kites – Triangles of Ham, Turkey and Swiss on French Toasted Brioche bread, with a Raspberry Jam kite string. Up, up and away! Classic Potato Salad on the
side ($6.95)
Snakes and Worms – Soy-marinated Chicken “snakes” rest atop warm Soba Noodle “worms” (with diced fresh veggies hidden inside!) A pool of Peanut Butter “mud” sits on the side for them to slither into. ($7.95)
The B.A.T. man Sandwich – Honey-Cured Bacon, Avocado & Tomato, mixed with Mayonnaise on Honey Wheat Bread, and shaped like a bat flying in the night. Fresh fruit on the side ($6.95)
“Le Papillon” French Dip – Sliced Roast Beef inside two petite, toasted Brioche Bread butterflies, with an “au jus” pool for the butterflies to dip and dive. Served with creamy Mashed Potato “snow” and a steamed Broccoli “forest” ($7.95)

http://www.napavalleymarketplace.com

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