April 29, 2011

April 29, 2011
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Plans for the dining room at Eiko’s; from Eiko’s Facebook page.

By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.

The City of Napa saw 12 new restaurants open in 2010, and yet somehow there are still more on the way, with each of them bringing something new to the mix.

A modern Japanese sports bar called ~EIKO’S~ will be opening next month in the old Piccolino’s storefront on First Street, across from Sala Salon. Massive, ruthless interior demolition at the site is changing the former cafeteria-like space into a modern lounge with an indoor firepit, seductive couch seating, a sleek bar, and a radically different vibe. The restaurant takes its name from Napa veteran Eiko Nakamura, who has run Fujiya at the outlets for 24 years, and who is the sushi master behind this tony new joint. Brazilian native Fellipe Estevez will bring flash and flavor as GM, having worked front of the house at such places as Aureole Las Vegas and Mastro’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills. To help celebrate their opening, Eiko’s is offering a two-hour sushi and sashimi class on Sunday May 29th for $125 per person, which includes the class, a video of the class, a bottle of sake, lunch, and a take-home bamboo rolling mat. Call Fellipe to reserve: 310-804-1097. 1385 First St. between Franklin and Randolph, Napa.

The historic Old Adobe, whose sign proudly proclaims that it has been serving Mexican food since 1840, will soon be swapping its tacos for momos. According to the new tenant’s poster, Sausalito’s ~TASTE OF THE HIMALAYAS~ (not to be confused with Sonoma’s Taste of the Himalayas) will be opening a second location in Napa’s oldest surviving structure soon. This Taste of the Himalayas group seems to be angling for a more Slanted Door-like approach to Nepali cuisine, using local California ingredients to freshen up traditional dishes from the old country. Details are sketchy on when the Napa outpost will open (they have not returned my messages), and the space itself doesn’t look like a whole lot of activity is going on… but local lovers of inexpensive curries have their fingers crossed. 376 Soscol Ave. at Silverado Trail, Napa. No phone yet.

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Martini House’s cauliflower mushroom pasta; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

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Kitchen Door’s pristine new Mugnaini oven; photo courtesy of Kitchen Door.

By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.

Fans of Richard Miyashiro and Todd Humphries’ Martini House can stop their mourning. The two have reassembled their A-team for a brand new venture in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market called ~KITCHEN DOOR~, projected to open in the old Oxbow Wine Merchants space the second week in June. The project marks a sea change for all of the key players—Miyashiro, Humphries, chef de cuisine Christopher Litts, and GM Tim Seberson—who have worked most of their careers in the white tablecloth, fine dining category. When I spoke with them a few weeks ago, they were all stoked to be stripping down for their new adventure, eliminating reservations, waiters, linens, and formality. Guests will order and pay at the front cashier, choose their own seats, and either watch as the open kitchens gets cracking or kick back outside on the Oxbow’s awesome riverside patio.

The main seating area inside is right in the middle of the restaurant, with a communal table, bar counter seating, and great views of the various prep stations along the external walls of the dining room. I can’t wait to see their new wood-fired Mugnaini oven in action. Besides the obvious pizzas and roast chickens, this little baby will soon be churning out more unusual roasts like Armenian flatbreads, seasonal seafood, and ash-roasted potatoes.

Humphries described the menu style as locally sourced, seasonal, and handmade, but more accurately just the stuff the chefs want to eat when they’re not working. Serious comfort food for seriously jaded palates. No word yet on whether Humphries will reprise his Martini House mushroom tasting menus, but foraged mushrooms will definitely feature prominently in season. His beloved candy cap mushrooms are almost certain to make an appearance in maple-scented desserts, and, I’m hoping, will also find their way into the flavor list for their housemade soft-serve ice cream.

The price point for Kitchen Door will be quite a bit lower than Martini House, as you’ve probably guessed. Affordability is one of the main goals here, so there will always be a selection of local wines on tap, and other well-priced options by the bottle to complement the sharing-size plates. To the relief of picnickers and locals alike, takeout will be a big part of Kitchen Door’s operations, and the restaurant plans to offer soups, hand pies, pantry items, and other ready-to-eat snacks to go in addition to the regular menu.

Kitchen Door will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11am, with continuous service until 9pm, as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 9am. Yes, at long last, the Oxbow will finally have a true brunch destination. 644 First St. in the Oxbow Public Market, Napa. No phone yet.

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