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View from the Counter

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When we arrived at Napa Rose and let them know we had a reservation, they asked us to wait in the lounge for a few minutes. Then they started seating what turned out to be the people for the other seats at the Chef’s Counter. Seats 1-4 were filled and seats 7 & 8 were, too, when we were shown our seats, 5 & 6. The gentleman sitting in Seat 7 told me as I sat down that we beat them to requesting seats 5 & 6, as those are their “regular seats” when they dine there. I told him we had made our ressies about 6 weeks prior. We ended up chatting throughout the night with he and his partner and discovered we’ll all be on the DCL Cruise to Nowhere together.

As the 4 of us looked around the kitchen in front of us we saw that Chef Andrew was nowhere to be seen. The men in seats 7 & 8 said when they made the reservation they asked specifically if he’d be in tonight and were told he was indeed scheduled to work. Instead we had Chef de Cuisine Gloria guiding us through our meal. All 4 of us chose the tasting menu, which is where the diners don’t decide what to eat, but instead “trust the chef” to make them something yummy. We each gave our dietary restrictions and preferences (have you all met my ½ Japanese DH who doesn’t eat seafood? *sigh*)

Onto the food!

The amuse bouche she sent over was a small disk of duck pate with a pear sauce and dots of port reduction with a super crispy crostini. It was interesting and certainly not something either Kenji or I would’ve chosen for ourselves (not that you can choose the amouse bouche). It was a little more than one mouthful.

There’s only one picture as Kenji and I were given the same thing for the amuse bouche.

For the starter Kenji had the Smiling Tiger Salad which had spicy beef, Asian Greens and a Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette. It had a very distinct Thai taste to it and was nice. They gave it to him without the tempura fried lobster it usually comes with since he’d said he doesn’t like seafood, but I wish they’d given him one so I could’ve eaten it! He said there was a lot of cilantro in it, which he likes. I don’t like it, so was glad Chef Gloria chose something else for me.

It was paired with

I had the Ahi Tuna Carpaccio with Blue Crab and Beluga Lentil Tian, topped with California Olive Oil and Crème Fraiche and a small dollop of caviar. There were also small lemon gelatin squares that were so bright and cleansing. Yum, yum and yum!

My carpaccio was paired with

Next Kenji had Portobello Mushrooms and Fried Sweet Potato Brie Cheese Dumplings in a butternut squash soup. It was so up his alley. I think this may have been his favorite dish of the night. He described it as earthy. It really was very pretty, too. (I just asked him and I was right, it was his favorite. ☺ )

It was paired with

I had the Pan Roasted Diver Scallop on a Sauce of Lobster and Lemon Accented with Vanilla. It’s fantastic and has rightfully secured what seems to be a permanent spot on their menu. If I were to order an appetizer off the menu it would be the scallop, so I was thrilled to have been served one on the tasting menu!

The scallop was firm yet not overcooked. It had a perfect sear to it and the bits of lobster in the vanilla sauce were sweet and yummy! The sauce itself was not overly sweet, but instead complimented the seafood to a “T”.

It was paired with

About this time Chef Andrew made an appearance in the kitchen. He didn’t take over from Chef Gloria as Chef de Cuisine, instead he walked around, asking the other chefs doing the cooking what they were working on and how it was going. Then he got on the line and started pitching in where he was needed! We thought that was so cool and such a rare treat to get to see him actually cook (but what do we know, maybe he does that nightly) that we were all tickled pink.

He knew that Chef Gloria was in the weeds because their printer had stopped working and the servers were having to hand-write the orders and Chef Gloria was having to interpret what they’d written. So Chef Andrew came over and started to describe our next course to us.

Kenji’s next course was Phaesant Bolognaise Tossed with Winter Mushrooms, Rigatoni Pasta and Shaved Oregon Black Truffles. He said this was a close 2nd in his list of favorites from the night. I had a bite, even though there were mushrooms in it and I found it flavorful and earthy, but I didn’t care for the mushroom flavor, nonetheless.

It was paired with

My next course was the Winter Squash Risotto with Imported Spanish Chorizo, Sautéed Spinach and Manchego Cheese.

It was warm and wonderful. The risotto was cooked perfectly and the layers of flavor were yummy. I wished the chorizo slice was slightly larger so I could have tasted it better. I could’ve eaten twice the amount, if I hadn’t already eaten so much and still had the entrée and dessert courses to go, that is!

It was paired with

For the entrée course Kenji had the Crispy Thick Cut Port Chop with Green Apple Mint Relish, Red Rice and Pomegranate Essence. I think this was easily his weakest dish of the evening. It looked rather blah in color and the rice easily slid down the wrong pipe and caused him quite a coughing fit. Chef Andrew looked over a couple of times to see if he was ok and if he should intervene.

It was paired with

I, on the other hand, had my most favorite dish of the evening for my entrée. It was the Slowly Braised Angus Beef Short Rib, Pot Roast Root Vegetables and a Rich Zinfandel Braising Jus. It was nothing short of amazing. It was tender enough to be cut with a fork, although they brought me a steak knife. The deep rich flavor made me sigh and smile with contentment.

It was paired with

Earlier in the meal our seatmates had made a remark to the Sous Chef for the evening about the Truffled “Mac-n-Cheese” Orecchiette Pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano. They indicated that they would be open to a “taste” at some point. I jumped on that band wagon and indicated that we would like a “taste” of that as well.

The mac-n-cheese arrived with our entrees and was well more than a “taste”.

With a crispy, crunchy crust on top it was flavorful and a far cry from what I believe most of us accept as mac-n-cheese in our normal lives. But I was far too interested in my short rib at this point to do anything more than taste the mac-n-cheese.

Then it became obvious to all 4 seated at the Counter that there were no 8:30 reservations for any of our seats because Chef Andrew told us that our sever, Mickey (very appropriate, yes?) had suggested a cheese plate for both parties and did we want that? Um. Yes!

We were given the list of cheeses that would be showing up and Chef Andrew quickly ran them down for us. The one that didn’t make it into my picture (sorry!) is the Saint Andre' from France. It is described on the menu as “a perfect example of a soft ripened “triple” cream. Saint Andre' is an extravagantly rich cow’s milk cheese with a velvety bloom rind. The flavor is mild yet well balanced with mellow buttery undertones with a hint of meadow clover and rich grasses.”

The Saint Andre' was my favorite. It was similar to a brie. Chef Andrew suggested we pair it with the dab of honeycomb on the plate and doing so just heightened the flavor profile and the whole bite just melted in my mouth. Also on the plate were an apricot compote, what I think was a fig and nut compote and something else that I can’t remember what it was at this point. I didn’t eat that one because he suggested it went best with the 2 blue cheeses on the upper left corner of the plate and I don’t like blue cheeses. I left those to Kenji to enjoy fully. The honeycomb is the dab with the sprig of dill in it in the picture.

It was served with a plate of thinly sliced pumpernickel bread with fruit and nuts in it.

The cheese was paired with

While we were sampling the cheeses, Chef Andrew started prepping some cilantro (yuck!) and lime zest in front of us. We inquired what he was going to make and he said tamales for Christmas Day. We speculated later that since this was Tuesday and Christmas wasn't until Saturday, that he was going to actually be making a sample batch to test the recipe and see if he needed to make any tweaks before Saturday. We all wished we could get a taste of *those* samples!

After taking the picture of him prepping for the tamales, he offered to take pictures with us.

We then each got to choose our dessert from the regular menu. I requested the Holiday “Eggnog” Cheesecake with Warm Banana Foster’s Sauce and Brandy Cream. Since it’s only served at this time of year, I wanted to try something I can’t get if I come back in spring or summer. It was velvety and smooth and not overly strong with eggnog flavor. It wad a hard piece of decorative holiday white chocolate on top which made cutting into it difficult without smooshing the whole thing.

It was paired with .

I enjoyed it, but wished I had gotten what Kenji had instead. He told Chef Andrew to surprise him. He gave Kenji the Manjari Dark Chocolate Decadent Cake with Passion Fruit Pot de Crème and Blood Orange Sauce. Yum! The cake was so moist and chocolaty and the teeny tiny layers were so cute. I love dark chocolate to begin with and really wanted to eat the whole thing but was so incredibly stuffed I couldn’t. The pot de crème was silky and smooth and was a perfect balance of tart and sweet without being overly either.

It was paired with… wait for it… Magicale!

I’d never had Magicale before and when Kenji had finished with it I sucked the rest down! There wasn’t enough left in the bottle for another glass after they poured Kenji’s glass, so they left the bottle for him (meaning me!) to finish, which I did happily.

We sat and digested and made overly stuffed comments and sounds for a few minutes then decided we’d be more comfortable up in our room where we could lay down and moan and groan and not bother the other diners. ☺ So we paid our bill and rolled out of the restaurant and up to our room and wished that it wasn't rainy and drizzly because we would've had a most excellent view for fireworks. Oh well.

All in all, a most excellent meal and night spent with the love of my life!

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Updated 12-28-2010 at 07:38 AM by Karin



  1. CariBelle's Avatar
    Great report Karin!
  2. Toocherie's Avatar
    Great report! I am so torn--I want to do the tasting menu but I'm afraid there is no way I could eat all of that food! and I couldn't do the wine flight at all!
  3. adriennek's Avatar
    I'm cracking up - I don't know if they get a kickback from Baileyana or what but they ALWAYS manage to slip Baileyana in. I think next time we go I might say "We'd rather try something other than Baileyana this time" just to see what we get.

    I'm also laughing at the Lasorda but at least it's Chianti. Michael Jordan loves Lasorda and he thinks the Lasorda pinot grigio is the best anywhere -- I thought it was tasteless and tasted like a glass of water.

    Tiger Salad is my very favorite thing on the menu!! Did Kenji try ANY of your seafood?? I used to think I didn't like fish but you got some of my very favorite dishes and all of them have seafood in them!! (The ahi and the scallops. The scallops are one of their signature items that is frequently on the menu.)
  4. fairestoneofall's Avatar
    Everything looks fabulous, Karin! I cannot wait to go in 11 days.

    AdK-I've never had the Baileyana, but I always seem to get the Ambullneo Vineyars Mastiff. I'm NOT complaining though, it's a very nice wine.