I gave myself a challenge this summer (easy work, admittedly). I had spent half days in Napa Valley, California, during annual trips to visit friends in Oakland, but my disdain for Napa’s predominant wines—those big fruit bomb cabs and buttery oaky chardonnays—meant that I never found much pleasure in traipsing from tasting room to tasting room. But with a few days alone with the missus up for grabs, a process of elimination I won’t get into left us in Napa. My goal: find the best of the Foodie scene without drinking a drop of Big Red or Butter Oak.
I set a course for some of the region’s top tables but with notable absences. French Laundry was not on the agenda, nor Cyrus, nor Redd, nor any of the temples of refined cuisine that are as much about the look and the wow as the taste. I was in the mood for rustic, regional, and robust: more affordable fare that retains an essence of the energy of Napa’s winemakers, farmers, and landed gentry.
So what was I doing at a vegetarian restaurant known for its plating finesse? Because even after stating my focus to my foodie pals up there, everyone said “gotta try Ubuntu.