February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011

Egg to the third power at Bar Terra; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani (of ~TERRA~, ~AME~) opened the taverny Bar Terra last month in the north half of the groovy stone building that houses Terra on the south side. The place channels the vibe of the departed Martini House cellar bar with its low lighting and a non-Main Street location, and seems to be filling that gaping hole in the community with its own brand of sexy cocktails and sophisticated snacks.

The cocktail list steers clear of cloying, and sticks with balanced blends of fresh citrus and quality liquors. They make their Jack Rose—my new fave—with Lecompte Calvados and Allspice Dram, which lend a savory undertone and serious food affinity. Speaking of which, the awesomely affordable snack menu includes such delights as Egg3 (deviled Jidori eggs with salmon roe and uni), a jarful of beef tartare with Thai chiles, Red Necks and Wings (a ducked-up version of hotwings that includes necks), and the heart-stopping “caviar dip”—a glass jar layered with luscious cream, tobiko, salmon roe, and California osetra served with toasted baguette chips. A couple of salads and a few larger plates allow for more traditional dinners, but grazing through the starters is the obvious choice for tipplers in this kind of setting. Only half the seats at Bar Terra are available for reservations, too, so that walk-ins have a great shot at scoring a spot on any given night.

Terra next door has also done some revamping, and now boasts an eye-catching wine wall in the dining room, as well as a new slew of prix-fixe options: four courses for $66, five courses for $81, six courses for $92, or the chef’s choice omakase if you simply must have more. A special daily set menu of 3 courses for $57 brings the Michelin-starred experience within reach of more modest budgets, too. 1345 Railroad Ave., St. Helena, 707-963-8931.


Apricot smoothie, mini English muffins with bacon butter amuse; photos by Deirdre Bourdet.


Pork consommé with slow-poached egg.

The metamorphosis of the Yountville Inn into the swank Hotel Yountville is nearing completion, and official grand opening celebrations will take place sometime in late March or early April 2011… once the liquor license arrives.

The hotel’s ~HOPPER CREEK KITCHEN~ is already up and running for breakfast, though, and soooo worth a hotel stay (it’s only open to guests, boo). Chef Adam Clark takes the most important meal of the day into the gastronomic big time, turning breakfast into breakfeast with techniques and flavors normally found only at haute lunch and dinner destinations in wine country. When I visited, the tasting menu (yes, a breakfast tasting menu) included pork consommé with 63-degree-C slow-poached egg, crisped duck confit with yuzu-filled donuts and quince agrodolce, and a willpower-annihilating French toast soufflé with huckleberry-rum raisin sauce for dessert.

The accompanying “Coffee Experience” is also quite the production, with your choice of Equator Coffee beans ground to order, and brewed tableside using porcelain drip cones and a gleaming silver teapot of 201-degree-F water, poured slowly and with surgical precision over the grounds to maximize the aromatic extraction. Overly precious? Perhaps, but that coffee rocked—best of 2011 so far.

March is the perfect time to check this place out, and not just for the grand opening parties—room rates go up in April for the spring high season. 6462 Washington St., Yountville, 888-944-2885.


Jacobsen Orchards garden; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

After only four months of collaboration with the Tyler Florence Restaurant Group, chef Jeremy Fox is moving on. According to Eater SF, sous chef Tyson Greenwood will be taking the helm at ~ROTISSERIE & WINE~ in downtown Napa, and Fox will be focusing his energy on his forthcoming vegetable cookbook, Seed to Stalk.

Fox partnered with Ryan Hill and Peter Jacobsen (well known for their Yountville gardens, which supply produce to some of the town’s finest restaurants) to help him grow the ingredients that will inspire the recipes. And, in the spirit of collaboration, the three will be hosting intimate, 20-25 person pop-up dinners to test recipes on eager guinea pigs like you and me.

No details yet on dates, locations, or cost, but Ryan Hill says there’s a good chance that they will host one at Peter and Gwenny Jacobsen’s fantastic outdoor kitchen in Yountville… the one that looks out at garden rows that supply The French Laundry with fresh produce and herbs. But, as Ryan pointed out to me, the “unique thing about pop-up dinners is that they can take place anywhere… in the world!” Does this mean a Copenhagen dinner at NOMA is in the works?


Scott Beattie and The Cucumber Collins; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

Lots of fun events going on in wineland these days. On Wednesday February 23rd, ~SPOONBAR~, Classic & Vintage Spirits, and artisanal cocktail king Scott Beattie are hosting the Golden Barspoon cocktail competition in Healdsburg’s eco-chic h2hotel. Professional bartenders from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties will be mixing up their best cocktail recipes using Classic & Vintage spirits in the Spoonbar lounge, competing for eternal glory and some kick-ass prizes from the sponsors. The hoi polloi can cheer them on whilst sipping $5 cocktails from Scott’s own repertoire of mind-bending beverages, and checking out samples of Classic & Vintage’s product line. The h2hotel is also offering a special $149 cocktail competition rate that night, to save you the DUI expense. 7pm-10pm. 219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-7222.

For a totally different kind of outing, the first ever Big Gay Wine Train is set to ride the rails on Saturday March 12th, thanks to co-sponsors Napa Valley Wine Train and Out In The Vineyard. Gay vintners from Napa and Sonoma will take over the Wine Train for the night, schmoozing with guests and pouring their wines for the specially paired five-course dinner from chef Kelly McDonald. Think lobster cakes with blood orange beurre blanc, scallops and pork belly in tarragon truffle purée, lamb lollipops, filet mignon, foie gras, and more decadence along those lines.

The party starts at the Wine Train Station with bubbly from J Vineyards, then it’s all abjoard with Greg Bjornstad (Bjornstad Cellars), Mark Lyon (Sebastiani Vineyards), Philippe Langner (Hesperian Wines), and Jeff Durham and Joey Wolosz (Poem Cellars), who will be circulating among the cars answering questions and generally being fabulous. No word on whether the station’s piano bar will be open late that night, but I have my suspicions. Sparkling reception starts at 5:30pm; train leaves at 6:30pm. Make your reservations online at winetrain.com.

Related Archives

March 22, 2011 »