Restaurant Review – January 2010

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review January 2010

Hurley’s In Yountville
By Dorothy and John Salmon

On the way home from an up-Valley event recently, John and I stopped at Hurley’s in Yountville for dinner. We don’t get there as often as we would like and we LOVE the place, Chef and owner, Bob Hurley, the food, the ambiance, the location and just about everything else. It’s a local hangout with owners who provide the best of what this Valley is all about. They give back to the community continuously and put their heart and soul into serving up the best food along with the best philanthropy every day of the year.

Bob Hurley often greets his guests as they walk into the restaurant. When he is not out front, his staff is friendly, savvy and fun.  The food is always wholesome, well-priced and unique. During the winter, guests are greeted with a warm fire and candle lit ambiance, lots of wintertime foods like great soups, and a friendly bar for those cold winter night hot toddies.

As we walked into Hurley’s we saw Bob. Dorothy gave him an Auntie Dorothy hug and we sat down for a hearty bowl of squash soup ($8). We also ordered the crispy mix of Calamari with cauliflower, red onions, fennel and rock shrimp with caper remoulade ($13), paired with a hot toddy to remove the chill we brought in from outside. We know that is not a standard Napa Valley pairing … but it does work!

Then, Dorothy followed up with the Mixed Winter Chicory and Fuyu Persimmon Salad with blue cheese crumbles, candied walnuts and polenta croutons with apple cider vinaigrette ($10) and John had the Beet Carpaccio Salad with haricot vert, cherry tomatoes, sliced red onions, spiced pecans, herbed goat cheese and a citrus vinaigrette ($10).  The soup and salad was enough for Dorothy, but John went on to have the Maple Roasted Chicken with lemon preserve, caramelized pearl onions, broccoli rabe, macaroni and cheese with apple wood smoked bacon ($23). We enjoyed a bottle of Luna Vineyards Pinot Grigio, Napa County, 2007 ($28) partly because we love the wine, but mostly because we love our pals George and Elsa Vare and wanted to make it a pure Napa Valley meal.  Okay, we admit that hot toddies were not invented here.

Hurley’s wine list is varied, interesting, well priced and, appropriately, features Napa Valley wines. If you don’t want to ponder the wine list, you can enjoy a great glass of wine with dinner by just ordering Hurley’s Chardonnay or Cabernet for $6.

While more January events will be listed elsewhere in the Marketplace, a couple of examples this month are on:

• January 27 – Robert Burns Dinner – when Chef Hurley prepares a traditional Scottish four course dinner, in honor of Scotland’s national poet.

• January 29th – Venge Winemaker’s Dinner – when  Chef Hurley joins Award Winning Winemaker Kirk Venge to host a four course wine paired dinner.

So, make a reservation and enjoy lunch or dinner in a warm and inviting setting with really good food. You can’t beat Hurley’s any time of the year, but it’s one of our favorite places to hang out on a cold winter night.

Some examples of Hurley’s famous winter dishes include Butternut Squash Ravioli made with julienne prosciutto, sage and ranchero cheese ($21) and Sugar Pie Pumpkin Risotto made with roasted baby pumpkin, fresh Oregon chanterelle mushrooms, apple wood smoked bacon and toasted pumpkin seed ($19).  Lest we forget, you can always try their famous grilled rib eye steaks, their Tamarind-chipotle glazed antelope short ribs or their braised wild Texas boar.

Nowhere are you going to find meals like that anywhere else in the Napa Valley?

Hurley’s desserts are wonderful too. We skipped dessert this evening and headed home, but we recommend that you save some room for Bob’s special $8 desserts like his Vanilla Crème Brûleé, Chèvre Cheesecake, Ice Cream Sandwich, “My Mother’s Strawberry Shortcake” or the always off-the-diet Warm Chocolate Fudge Cake.

Hurley’s is at 6518 Washington Street in downtown Yountville, the heart of one of the most wonderful places in the world. Call for reservations at (707) 944-2345. Bob Hurley is the owner and executive chef, and Jerry Lamp is the general manager and partner. Both guys are friendly, real, outgoing and will be among the best and most generous people you will ever know. Hurley’s is also on-line at: http://www.hurleysrestaurant.com

Hurley’s Sugar Pie Pumpkin & Granny Smith Apple Soup

2 large white onions ( 1# ) peeled & sliced
2 oz. whole sweet butter
6 cups chicken stock
3 pounds fresh Sugar Pie pumpkin meat, peeled,
seeded & chopped
1 ripe Granny Smith apple, peeled, seeded & chopped
1 cup cream
Salt & pepper to taste

> Cook onions slowly in butter until translucent, add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add rest of ingredients and cook until all ingredients are falling apart.  Puree in blender and check seasoning.

> Optional Garnishes:
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pasilla Chili Cream (roasted chili, seeded & blended with small amount of water to create a puree)
Whip heavy cream 1/2 way, add chili puree and finish whipped.
Small spoon on top of hot soup.

Makes enough for 12 people.

http://www.napavalleymarketplace.com

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