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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Napa Valley Grille - Yountville (Napa)

posted by snekse
When looking for a place to have lunch in Napa, I tried to find a place that was low key, reasonably priced, and conveniently located. I also tend to give preferential consideration to restaurants that I've never been to and that provide an online reservation option - bonus points if it's through OpenTable.com. In addition, I will almost never consider eating somewhere that doesn't provide a sample menu on their website. If a restaurant doesn't have a website, I assume it doesn't truly exist.

With all that in mind, our only real choices for the southern Napa/Yountville area were Mustard's, Brix, and The Napa Valley Grille. Since we've been to Mustard's and Brix seemed neither low key nor reasonably priced, our minds were set on The Napa Valley Grille. After looking at their menu, our stomachs concurred. Seeing such items as Parsnip & Maple Soup, a 1/2 Pound "Kobe" Burger, and a Dungeness Crab Melt - their menu sounded intriguing and delicious. And since we were going to The French Laundry that evening, our wallets appreciated the slight reprieve.

When we arrived, the first thing that struck me was the location. Not the strategically placed tourist trap situated at a main intersection of Hwy29 & Madison St. location, but the actual physical structure. It is a beautiful stone building with simple but elegant lines and very aesthetic dimensions. I'm a bit of a naive architect buff, so I can be easily awed at times, but I think dimension is an oft-overlooked aspect of design. The inside of the building was well done, but reminded me a bit of a Perkins.

We were the first table of the day, so we were well attended to by our genuinely nice, but overly enthusiastic server. We were presented with some addictively good bread with a dipping plate of olive oil & a generous amount of balsamic vinegar. I swear balsamic vinegar is my other blood type. [Note from the proof reader and wife: There was a lot of balsamic on the plate because I asked for it, if you look at the picture of the 'dipping plate' the waitress wanted to do it in the reverse - tons of EVOO and barely any balsamic. However, I know my husband and I know his other blood type. ;) ]

To start with, we ordered the "Harvest Platter" because it's impossible to find an antipasto platter in Omaha, let alone one that matches the looks of this one. I'm glad we did, because it ended up being the favorite item we ordered. There's just something about the simplicity and freshness of a quality antipasto that makes it hard to top. The standouts of this platter would probably be the dried beef, the caper berry and oddly enough, the stone ground mustard which was relatively mild, yet flavorful and seemed to have a slightly fruity or flowery undertone.

I wish I could bestow the same praise on our main courses, but I wasn't as impressed with that portion of our meal. Nothing we had was necessarily bad (though the Eggs Monterey wasn't far off), but nothing we had was all that extraordinary. It's been a month now since we've eaten there and the only entree I can vividly recall is the Dungeness Crab Melt, which tasted of buttered toast and crab, which was served with some darn tasty fries that tasted just like Pik-Nik Original Shoestring Potatoes. Yes, the ones in the can. Yum.

The fact that I didn't find the food sublime, however, doesn't mean that I wouldn't recommend the place. Given the location, quality of the ingredients, and the creativity that goes into their dishes, I think the Napa Valley Grille is an almost perfect spot to stop for lunch. Is there better food to be had in the area? Most definitely, but after you've been to Bouchon, Tra Vigne and all of the other high end spots, try slumming it with the tourists at the Napa Valley Grille (as much as you can slum it in Yountville). I'd say my only hesitation towards returning would be due to the fact that I'd like to find and try some of the other less expensive eateries that do as good of a job as this place does on delivering good food for a good value.

Rating: 84

Napa Valley Grille - Make a Reservation
Yountville, CA (Highway 29 at Madison ~ Washington Square)

6795 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599
Phone: 707.944.8686

Hours of Operation
Lunch & Dinner
  Mon - Thurs 11:30 am - 9:30 pm
  Friday & Saturday 11:30 am - 10:00 pm
  Sunday 11:00 am - 9:30 pm
Sunday Brunch
  11:00 am - 3:00 pm

Napa Valley Grille on Urbanspoon

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