Napa Valley



During a break between Christmas and New Years, we spent a few days restocking our wine cellars (multiple, not possessive) with a visit to Napa Valley.  During this period we again stayed at our favorite Sleeping Destination, the  COTTAGE GROVE INNWe highly recommend this B&B to all who want a clean, new, romantic, comfortable and quiet place to stay that isn't exorbitant.   Thanks to the continuing efforts of Donna Johnson, they have remained one of the best places to stay in the entire wine region.


In addition, we had the pleasure of dining in a number of restaurants and our capsule comments are below.

NAPA VALLEY GRILL  Great food, but incredibly poor service.  If you can endure the lack of attention, the food is almost worth the wait.  Not bashful with pricing.  Amazing, but no web links!

CINDY'S BACKSTREET KITCHEN   Located off a side street in St. Helena, it is a local jewel, attended mostly by locals that keep it very busy and a closely held secret.  GREAT SERVICE as well as food.  Why wouldn't it be a great place?  It's owned by the same person that has owned and operated MUSTARD'S GRILL for nearly 20 years and is her namesake. BOTH are MUST DINES!  Dine at the bar in Mustard's and you will undoubtedly meet most of the local vintners.  I once did a "stare down" with Koerner Rombauer.  He wanted part of MY scallops, and I wanted to taste the red he was drinking.  Neither of us share well, so it was a stand-off.  Great wines, bad sharing skills!

PINOT BLANC  Being part of the Patina Group, how could you possibly have a bad meal or service.  Answer:  you can't.  All the times we have been there, they have provided superb food and service, and best of all, are reasonably priced and extremely customer oriented.  AND THEY AREN'T snooty.

Tom Keller's FRENCH LAUNDRY in Napa This is a DON'T BOTHER kind of place.  While highly regarded, it is nearly impossible to get a seat in it.  We know, we've tried over a dozen times  for 5 years.  THIS is the epitome of snobbery as previously noted.  Calling in for a reservation, we always got the "we are famous and fully booked" attitude.  I even sent an email to Keller and was told I would receive a response after he or his business manager  were through traveling.  That was 2 months ago, and even after a follow-up email, no response.  Incidentally, I discovered the Laundry was recently closed for renovation for 6 months and slipped off his radar screen, while opening his new place in NYC.  According to the voicemail  message they would be closed 1 month.  FOOD MAY BE GREAT, but this is clearly a case of "too much money...  too little concern for the customer".  At last check, a couple dining the cheapest Fixed Menu with a flight of local wines selected by them would spend at least $550 PLUS TIP!