Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review October 2009
By Dorothy and John Salmon
The Bayleaf Restaurant is warm, unique and fabulous. What a place to go with special friends!
We recently had a magnificent dinner with our friends Kevin and Ross from New York, and Lauren Ackerman from Napa, at the Bayleaf Restaurant, located at 2025 Monticello Road in Napa. The setting is warm with a wonderful fireplace in the center of the restaurant in the French Room. Guests are greeted by friendly staff and the owner, Mounir Fahmy, who doubles as one of Napa’s most ardent ambassadors. We love the Bayleaf because it exudes charm, has fabulous food and a great bar. Mounir and his wife created Bayleaf to reflect elegance and warmth surrounded by beautiful landscaping that makes you feel like you are walking into a fairytale magical home.
Mounir and his wife had a vision for making Bayleaf the perfect indoor and outdoor dining experience for locals and visitors alike. With a fully stocked bar that is elegant, and wonderful private or semi-private rooms for your special occasions, you can’t miss by dining at the Bayleaf. You may want to consider having that special dinner in the Italian Room that seats 12, with its own private walkway. We have had several, very special family dinners there. Or, you can dine in the French Room that is decorated with elegant artwork and a glowing fireplace in the fall and winter. The French Room seats up to 40 and feels like a French Country Chateau. The Bayleaf also features the American Room which seats 35, or the Trellis Room that is outdoors, complete with a custom trellis and a brick patio where your favorite band can play for any party you host.
If you want to throw a REALLY big party, you can do it in style in the large Garden Patio area where your backdrop is Napa Valley’s lovely hills. This is a great spot for a wedding reception!
We had dinner in the French Room, next to the fireplace. Mounir took good care of us by suggesting our dinner selections. Lauren brought along a bottle of her Ackerman Family Vineyards cabernet (corkage fee is $12.00). We also ordered a bottle of Trinchero Napa Valley Chardonnay ($45), because the Trinchero family represents incredible generosity, warmth, business savvy and, they make great wine (plus, we like them a lot). Mounir has a distinguished private wine cellar that is second to none for those special occasions. Wine by the glass is also available if you just want to try something new. If you want to impress your dinner guests, you can order a rare bottle of 1996 Robert Mondavi Reserve from Mounir’s “Private Collection.”
The Bayleaf serves fabulous appetizers. So, between the five of us we ordered the Calamari Frito Misto, served with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce ($14), and the incredible Dungeness Crab Cake, served with Saffron Aioli with Caramelized Fennel, Meyer Lemon Preserve, Lobster Demi-Glace ($15), and Mounir’s wonderful Bayleaf Oak Roasted Oysters, Spinach, Arugula, Roasted Garlic, Mascarpone ($15).
Lauren and I made sure we ordered the last of the summer tomatoes with the Tomato Caprese; made with Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Balsamic ($14). John ordered his usual; Classic Caesar Salad, Shaved Parmesan Cheese, Bread Stick ($8). Kevin and Ross ordered the Mixed Baby Greens, Balsamic Syrup, Basil Oil, Port Wine Vinaigrette & Almonds ($7), plus the Warm Brie & Spinach, Almonds, Strawberries, Pancetta and Sherry Vinaigrette ($14). If you want to order a smaller, less formal meal, the Bayleaf also features some great pizzas from their wood burning ovens.
Our entree selections included the famous Bayleaf Paella Cazuela, a traditional Blend of Lobster, Shrimp, Clams, Chorizo & Calamari on Baked Spanish Rice ($34), Mounir’s wonderful Seared Scallop Saltimbocca, Truffled Oil Risotto, White Wine Reduction ($33), the Chicken Mattone, Brick Oven Roasted Chicken, Savory Bread Pudding, Seasonal Vegetables, Herb Veloute ($24), the Hickory Smoked Babyback Ribs, Watermelon BBQ Sauce, French Fries, Wine Country Slaw ($38), and the Wild Alaskan King Grilled Salmon, Warm White Bean Ragout, Seasonal Vegetables, Sauce Veronique ($23).
That night, Mounir made his own rendition of a flaming dessert for us; with fresh fruit, several liqueurs, homemade sorbet and fresh mint poured into tall aperitif glasses. All of the above came with flames & bravado and tasted amazing. Most of the Bayleaf’s desserts are priced from $7 to $12.
We love to visit and review restaurants who give back to the community. Bayleaf’s owner, Mounir Fahmy and his wife, are among our favorite “giving community members” that we know. Just a few weeks ago, Mounir donated his very cool 1965 Cadillac touring car, complete with himself as its driver, to transport supporters of Napa’s SC 21 initiative to their destination. He charmed everyone and contributed to the community by once again, giving of himself.
The Bayleaf is located at 2025 Monticello Road. The phone number is: 257-9720. You can find them on the Internet at: http://www.bayleafnapa.com. They are open daily for lunch from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM and open, except for Tuesday, for dinner from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM. You don’t have to dress up to dine at Bayleaf. Casual dinner attire is perfect. There is plenty of parking available year and they accept Visa, MasterCard and cash.