Our First Two Dining Experiences
12 Sep 2012
|Finally, the much anticipated day is here – Randy and Konnie flew in midafternoon into the Sacramento Airport. While Jerry went to pick them up, I drove over to the hotel to get our rooms ready for the week to explore some of the best restaurants in the Napa Valley.
We decided to spend our first evening at Mustards Grill just north of Napa. Mustards Grill is owned by Chef Cindy Pawlcyn who opened the restaurant in 1983 and named it after the fields of mustard covering the hills of Napa in the spring of the year. The restaurant has been successful from the get-go. The secret to its success isn’t really a secret at all – it has hearty bistro food served with style and still at a moderate price and in a lively atmosphere.
Jerry and I went out to scope out the place and even though we didn’t plan on stopping to have anything to eat, we were lured in when we saw the setting, the magnificent gardens next to the restaurant and again – the welcoming atmosphere. We enjoyed Chef Pawlcyn’s signature Mongolian pork chop with this fabulous mustard crème sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet and sour red cabbage. We split the dish and were stuffed – but that probably came after splitting her other signature dish of onion rings served in a heaping pile thinly sliced, highly seasoned and the most wonderful homemade tomato/apple dipping sauce – excellent!
We watched Randy and Konnie enjoy the same wonderful Mongolian pork chop after we all enjoyed having a cup of the daily special and delightful tomato-pepper pureed soup with crostini and goat cheese on top. Jerry and I selected a dish from the ‘chalkboard’ menu that changes daily and split a yummy rib eye and mushroom risotto – both excellent choices. We were all so full none of us could possibly entertain the idea of dessert so we headed back to our hotel.
As mentioned in my “Quick Update” post, this and subsequent posts are going to be for the “foodies”! We have reservations and plans for every day of their week-long stay.
After regaling in the wonderful meal we all so thoroughly enjoyed the previous night at Mustard’s Grill we were eagerly looking forward to another experience at another Bistro – this one Bistro Jeanty in Yountville, but this time with ‘french’ cuisine on the menu. The chef, Philippe Jeanty had prepared for years the meticulously elaborate creations at Domaine Chandon before he returned to his “roots” in 1998 and opened this delightful bistro on the main drag, just down the street from some other restaurant icons.
Jeanty’s idea was to create the French country comfort food he grew up with in Champagne, France. It’s hard not to be won over by Jeanty’s menu, which is ripe with classics like cassoulet, Danube de boeuf and escargots. A favorite is coq au vin, the hearty red wine stew of moist chicken and mushrooms – all these fabulous choices made selections difficult!
What an absolutely wonderful experience as well as meal. We had the most wonderful waiter, John, who was attentive without being overly so and knew the menu intimately to provide great responses to our many questions. The setting was just wonderful and really reminded us all of the many French Bistros we had all enjoyed when living in Germany and would travel to France; cute décor and setting. We opted for indoor dining due to the 90+* temps outside and were glad we did; it got up to 96*!
Wonderful meals. We started off with Konnie and Randy both getting the Fish soup with the best rouille on toasted baquette points while Jerry had onion soup whereas I varied from the soup route and got duck liver parfait with toasted brioche; all superb in taste as well as presentation. For the main course, Konnie got the boeuf bourguignon, Randy got Coq au Vin and Jerry and I split the cassoulet – I’m hard pressed to know who was the happiest with their respective choices because we all raved about the meals being top notch. We looked at the dessert card but none of us had any room to enjoy their many selections.
When we were done we took a short stroll and walked down to the Bouchon Bakery to select a pastry for breakfast the following day. An absolutely delightful experience; two down, five more to go!
Till the next time . . .