Despite the incredible growth in Napa restaurants, Yountville remains restaurant central for the Napa Valley. This being said, we did have to make one lunch stop at Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford.
- Ciccio (Yountville). Another new hit in this restaurant-obsessed town. The four of us began by splitting a crispy cherry tomato and pancetta pizza, followed by a few entrees: Pork chop Milanese, whole roasted chili Branzino and pan-fried calamari steak in a light white wine, lemon and garlic sauce. This all went with another wonderful Napa Syrah—he 011 Paradigm. An incredibly popular, no reservations, locals restaurant that appears to draw more than its fair share of winemakers—and for good reason. Another Yountville winner.
- Bottega (Yountville). One of our favorite Valley lunch spots (and sister to Coqueta, one of our San Francisco lunch favorites). We returned and had one middling dish (gulf prawns with ricotta and sea urchin pasta and seafood brodo) and two very good ones. We started with salumi and cheese plates with a nice selection of three apiece of Italian salumi and cheeses. Then the lovely corn fettuccini with chanterelles, sweet corn and broth.
- Ad Hoc. We love this place: a Thomas Keller temporary restaurant that became a permanent favorite by offering one incredibly priced four-course dinner selection each night. Our menu consisted of an inspirational endive and arugula salad (loaded with stone fruit, apples, toasted almonds and more) along with grilled New York Strip Loin (with roasted potatoes and beats), a generous chunk of Cabot aged cheddar and a caramel panna cotta (with Chantilly cream). Joyce exercised her pescetarian option to substitute Pacific halibut for the steak.
- Addendum, an outdoor, lunch-only stand behind Ad Hoc that offers a choice of two traditional favorites: fried chicken and barbeque (with ribs and pulled pork). We had one of each (not very healthy, but quite good chicken and ribs) plus the standard cold side orders (cole slaw and macaroni salad).
- Bistro Jeanty (Yountville). It has been years since we last stopped here. Their veal chop with morels and camembert cream sauce drew me inescapably in. Not bad, but certainly not memorable. Joyce was not so lucky with her halibut with fennel, pastis puree and saffron tomato confit. The fish was dry and the sauce was separating. No plans for a return visit.
- Auberge du Soleil (Rutherford). Another of our favorites. Sitting on the deck, with a panoramic view of the valley, we had two dishes: Joyce, day boat scallops with white corn, romano beans, quinoa and tomato jus. Me, roasted quail with little Gen lettuce, roasted garlic croutons and bacon vinaigrette. And almost as importantly as the meal and the view, we finally discovered how we can use in our Verizon cell phone service from the resort—stand inside (not next to, but inside) the handicapped parking space next to the front entrance!