It was less than a year ago when we last visited Mundaka, a small plates restaurant nestled in the heart of downtown Carmel. Since then, the restaurant has continued to thrive and recently celebrated its 5th anniversary!
During our recent stay at The Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites Andy and I were honored to be invited back to Mundaka for dinner to try some new items on the menu, as well as some of our favorites from last time.
Please excuse the photos in this post. They are rather dark as was the room in which we were seated. ;)
We began the meal by ordering the Bravas: Fried potatoes, brava sauce, aioli. It happens to be one of the most classic tapas in Spain, and a must try at Mundaka.
Of course the Bravas were excellent, but I think the Crudo was the first new thing on the menu that caught my eye. When the plate came out, I was surprised to see such a beautiful presentation of multi-colored julienned vegetables: Carrots, Brussels sprouts, beet purée, candied walnuts.
The juxtaposition to the Crudo dish was the Charcuteria! Time to get our fat on! The plate was composed of Serrano ham, Iberico sausages, house cured lomo. Slice upon slice of meaty goodness. And there was more to come!
I guess you could say our main event was the Carne: Hanger steak, truffle fries, free foie butter. The hangar steak was tender and flavorful, and cooked a perfect medium-rare. The fries were the very skinny variety–like matchsticks, if you will–they soaked up the foie butter that had melted onto the plate from the steak.
Next up: A pan fried sole, salad of baby poached potatoes, grapefruit, arugula, saffron vinaigrette. This was probably my least favorite dish of all, but I still liked it, so that’s not much of a complaint. I just felt like the potatoes were a little clunky and didn’t belong on the plate with the fish.
Dessert #1: Huevo: Fried duck egg, crispy Iberico bits, toast. It was such a simple dish, but the quality of the ingredients and the richness of the duck egg combined with the Iberico was very rich and indulgent. Highly recommended as a starter dish or for a grand finalé!
Dessert #2! Again with the eggs, ha! Tortilla: Potato, egg, onion, sea salt.
So maybe we worked backwards, but my one of my favorite foods is egg, so these plates were like dessert to me. If you’re more into sweets and coffee for your finalé, Mundaka has a dessert, coffee, and digestives menu, pictured below:
What to drink? Mundaka serves a “Party Wine” house wine (red blend) poured from a giant bottle for $5 a glass (if you don’t ask what is in the blend). We enjoyed 2 different cavas (one, a rosé) and switched over to the Party Wine later in the meal. (Below is a photo of the bottle of sparkling rosé that Andy ordered and the glass of cava that I ordered).
Mundaka uses organic, local, free-range, line-caught, sustainable, fair-trade ingredients, and DOESN’T use ingredients containing hormones, pesticides, high fructose corn syrup, or anything artificial. That’s so Paleo!
Mundaka is located on San Carlos Street between Ocean and 7th Ave and open daily from 11am-5pm for coffee/lunch/pintxos and open daily at 5:30pm for Tapas/pintxos. You can download a sample menu here. You can find Mundaka on Facebook here. You can make a reservation at Mundaka via Open Table here.
A big thanks to Mundaka for their hospitality during our second visit. Always a delicious and memorable meal! :)
But, it wasn’t a dream. It was real…
The latest cavegrrl.com getaway was to the idyllic Stonepine Estate Resort, located in Carmel Valley. Carmel Valley is twelve miles inland from Carmel, (its more celebrated sibling). To be honest, I preferred Carmel Valley because of the sunshine and warmer temperatures.
The Estate boasts 330 secluded acres of gently rolling oak-studded hills, an affiliation with the Historic Hotels of America (formerly Relais & Chateaux). The Mediterranean-style Chateau (pictured above) is framed by 12 formal gardens. Chateau Noel includes eight luxuriously appointed suites, each lavishly named and decorated (with namesakes’ approval) after the Hentschels’ (the current owners of the Estate) favorite designers, champagne, china, jewelry, honeymoon location, philosopher and artist. There are also four cottages on the property: the Briar Rose, the Paddock House, the Gate House and the Hermes House.
Our visit was tailored to one of the packages now offered at Stonepine called the Carmel Valley Wine Discovery, which included:
- 2 Nights in One of Stonepine’s Houses or Cottage Accommodations
- Welcome Amenity Upon Arrival
- Full European Breakfast Each Morning
- Romantic Fireside Dinner for Two in the Chateau Noel
- Chauffeured Carmel Valley Wine Tour in the Stonepine Rolls Royce (optional upgrades to Cachagua Vineyards are available)
- Wine, Cheese and fruit at One of Stonepine’s Picturesque Venues
We were treated to a stay in the Don Quixote suite, which is actually hidden behind the wall of the library on the first floor of the Chateau Noel. The suite features a separate sitting room with fireplace, king bed, two bathrooms and French doors leading to a secluded garden and patio.
Andy and I already felt welcome and knew we were in for one of the best hosted trips I have ever experienced.
Our room boasted 2 bathrooms (a his and hers).
After rubbing our eyes and giggling in delight about the state of our room, we got ready for dinner. Typically, dinners are held in the dining room, but the staff at Stonepine had something more special in mind for us. Here’s a shot of the dining room, which is the setting for the Estate dinners.
There is another dining table alongside this one that is identical to it. There are wine bottles of everything (Palmaz, Far Niente for example)
randomly decorating the room… just waiting to be opened… :)
We were led into the great room which has a beautiful fireplace and a piano, to enjoy a glass of wine and some appetizers before our dinner.
Dessert was a chocolate mousse (Andy polished off both of them, and I didn’t get any photos, because dessert just isn’t my thing (anymore) ;) However, I did enjoy another glass of wine and time together in front of the fireplace with Andy. The whole setting was just unbelievable/surreal, and you have to experience it someday yourself.
The next day, we worked out and ran around the Estate. It was some of the hardest running I have done in a while… basically like a cross country course. Here’s the map:
Then it was off to breakfast. I loved the buffet spread. Plenty of Paleo options!! My favorite was the fruit salad. It had the best raspberries I have ever tasted, so I am pretty sure they were local and probably picked within a day of serving them.
Andy and I also ordered two poached eggs each, which I have found is the safest way to order eggs so that they don’t come cooked in butter or some strange oil. :) They were served with a sautéed spinach and onion mix and some tomatoes.
Then a few hours later, our concierge Jordan took us wine tasting in downtown Carmel Valley. That’s him on the right. :) He’s from France and pretty familiar with the grape! Our first stop was Mercy Vineyards Tasting Room located at 40 W Carmel Valley Road, Unit A, Carmel Valley. All the wines at Mercy showcase the Monterey County Arroyo Seco AVA and are sourced from three contiguous vineyards, all located in a specific part of the appellation – the dried riverbed.
The partners at Mercy come from Foley Estates. The vintners Mark and Mike have known each other over ten years and combined have been in the wine industry for over 45 years. They specialize in chardonnay and pinot noir, but also make a sauvignon blanc and a syrah. They are open for wine sales and tasting Thursday-Sunday, 11:30am-4pm.
Our next stop was Talbott Vineyards. (25 Pilot Road, Carmel Valley Village) Their tasting room is decorated with a menagerie of bikes and things with wheels, all lining the walls and hanging from the ceiling!
Talbott Vineyards is an estate winery that grows & produces Chardonnay & Pinot Noir from two of Monterey County’s grand cru sites: their Diamond T Vineyard in Carmel Valley & the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The winery was founded by Robb Talbott, and the wines are crafted by Dan Karlsen.
The tasting menu at Talbott has two columns. One for Chardonnay and the other for Pinot Noir. The wines from Talbott were really something to experience. Especially the Pinot Noirs. My favorite was the RFT Pinot Noir, while Andy favored the Sarah Case Pinot. $75 per bottle. Yowza! Thanks 30% industry discount. Like a boss, Andy bought a bottle of each of them plus whatever else I liked. Thanks, Andy. ;)
Our third (and final) stop was Cima Collina. Their tasting room was also impressive, but in a different way. It looked very country-rustic. The wines were impressive as well. The winemaker at Cima is Annette Hoff and she specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet blends. Andy and I also found some really nice wines to buy there, too. One of our favorites was their Chalone Pinot Blanc, and I really liked their Non-Vintage “Howlin’ Good Red (of which 25% of the profits from the sale of this wine goes to the local SPCA), so again, I made Andy buy some. ;)
The folks at Cima really made an impression on me, and I wanted to let you know about their event on October 12th. It’s a fundraiser for the Monterey County SPCA, so if you are in the area and are an animal lover, this is the event for you! See the poster in the photo below for details!
After all that tasting, I was ready to relax. Jordan drove Andy and I back to the chateau at Stonepine. We relaxed in our room for a little while ;), then shortly after, we walked across the lawn to the Waterfall Pavilion and were treated to an afternoon happy hour wine and cheese presentation. Jordan prepared several cheeses for us to sample along with a bottle of local Chardonnay by Heller. #magic #ilovecheese #jordanhowdidyouknow??
You know those moments in life you wish you could just freeze and live in forever? The afternoon at the Waterfall Pavilion was just like that. :) Here’s a picture from my view sitting in the Pavilion:
This was a book I stumbled upon in the collection of books at the Waterfall Pavilion. It was a great read! I got a kick out of reading some of the passages to Andy because he already practiced them (like a good gentleman) ;)
After our time at the Waterfall Pavilion, we decided to head out to dinner. We ended up at a place recommended by Jordan called Cafe Rustica. I will recommend the restaurant, too. We sat outside on the patio and were warmed by a little heat lamp. The food was good and my company was even better. It was a charming European bistro. I can’t wait to come back to Carmel Valley and try another one of many dining establishments. I also hear Corkscrew Cafe is a great lunch place. :)
The next morning we went on another run, this time a little longer. Here’s the map of that run:
Not the fastest run of my life, but at least it was a workout. :) After we cleaned up, we headed for breakfast number two. I was feeling a little sad because it was almost time to leave Stonepine, and this is not a place one is eager to leave! This time for breakfast Andy and I ordered an omelet and two bowls of fruit. OK, I eat like a truck driver sometimes. Don’t judge. ;) I gave Andy my croissant (he needed it more than I did, although I did take one bite of it). It was superb, but my omelet was even better, and once again, the fruit was so good: a mixture of 3 kinds of melon, pineapple, strawberries and raspberries. And bottomless coffee. We were spoiled!
Andy and I have agreed we will come back to Stonepine (annually, perhaps), as we love Carmel Valley so much. It’s funny because I didn’t know such a place existed even a year ago, yet so many celebrities ( Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Diane Sawyer, Brooke Shields, Bill Gates, Jim Carrey, Renee Zellweger, Warren Buffet, The Rolling Stones, Shakira and Joe Montana) have made Stonepine their destination. Now I know why. It’s a very special and private place. Once you are past those gates (and believe me, it’s a high security place for people who don’t want to be seen), it’s like stepping back in time, even into another country.
I can’t say enough about the kindness of the staff at Stonepine. They are all people I hope to see year after year. Thank you to Relevance PR for arranging my visit and a huge thank you to Gordon and Noel Hentschel for accommodating us. Stonepine Estate is one of the most lovely places we have ever experienced and I look forward to our return.
Yesterday around 9:30am, I received an invitation to a preview tasting of Capital Dime, Midtown Sacramento’s newest (and highly anticipated) restaurant owned by Noah Zonca (former chef at The Kitchen) and Rick Lobley (co-founder of Ink and Empire). I sent in my RSVP with Kobayashi-like hot dog eating speed. OMG! What do I wear?!?!? ;)
What is the concept of Capital Dime? According to the Chef, the restaurant’s goal is to make the farm-to-fork movement accessible to affordable for almost everyone. Most of the the plates will be priced around $10, in a setting that can be formal, but not snobby (there are booths in the downstairs along with a few flatscreen TVs). And their logo is pretty neat, too.
In my opinion, the odds of success are in Chef Zonca’s favor. He waited until the real estate prices were lower to open Capital Dime, and has several long time relationships with farmers and suppliers (securing good pricing for him to pass onto customers). Not to mention all those loyal fans from The Kitchen. And the great location. And the tasty plates were tried:
To start, Andy and I enjoyed a cocktail named “Boxers and Bobbysocks,” created by head bartender Rene Dominguez (who has worked at Ella Dining Room and Bar), containing gin, bitters, muddled cherries and rosemary.
Some of the bites we tasted were (shown above in the slideshow) an artichoke dip on a crostini paired with pulled pork in a mini tostada. The next course was a spicy shrimp and watermelon salad featuring a few Asian ingredients: bonito flakes, fish sauce juxtaposed with fresh mozzarella and squash blossoms arranged beautifully on a tea leaf. I liked the salad more and more with each bite as it took me a minute to wrap my brain around the combining flavors. I like just about anything with watermelon in it this time of year. The next sampler was a slider of pastrami (cured and smoked in house) paired with shoestring fries. The fries were topped with what appeared to be gravy, bacon and cheese. Look ma, no calories!!
The dessert was a soft chocolate-chip cookie. I try to stay away from these types of things, happy with the natural sugar level in my drink, so Andy happily snarfed had four of them. Andy, thanks for taking one for the team, I know it’s hard work. The chef says there will not be a dessert menu and doesn’t currently have a pastry chef. Noah, this is my formal application. LOL. Pick me! I’d serve my gluten-free s’more pie from the party and I put on at Caverna 57 on Saturday.
Capital Dime will be participating in Sacramento’s Bastille Day Celebration on July 14th. They will have a booth with free appetizers from 11:30 am to 3 pm.
Capital Dime is located at 1801 L St., Suite 50, in the former space of L Wine Lounge. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here. Here’s a video from last night posted by The Sacramento Bee, with Zonca being interviewed by Janelle Bitker. Andy and I are in the very beginning! :)
Last weekend, Andy and I joined a group of other travel journalists on a media tour of the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa (which underwent a $65-million renovation in 2009), features 550 guestrooms (32 suites), a President’s house, TusCA Ristorante, Knuckles Sports Bar, Lounge, fitness facility, tennis courts, fire pit, 2 swimming pools/whirlpools, Accista Spa, and a conference center (with 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space). It is located next to and overlooks the Pebble Beach Company’s Del Monte Golf Course. The beach and bay are just minutes away, as are prime attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Below is a rundown of all the amenities and services to be enjoyed during one’s stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa.
Rooms & Amenities: 550 renovated guest rooms, 32″ LCD flat-panel TVs, iHome stereo with iPod®docking station (love!), Hyatt Grand Bed™, In-room safes and refrigerators, bathrooms with walk-in rain showers, and raised sinks.
Guest Services: Complimentary shuttle from Monterey Airport, Hyatt Fast Board™, PDA Check-in, Self Check-in kiosks, the Regency Club, a 24-hour fully automated business center, a gift shop with wine tasting room, pet friendly, les clefs d’or concierge.
Dining & Entertainment: TusCA Ristorante, award-winning Knuckles Sports Bar, Fireplace Lounge with live entertainment, a coffee bar with barrister, in-room dining.
Meetings & Events: 40,000 square feet of flexible function space, unique indoor & outdoor settings for weddings and social gatherings, innovative catering for onsite and offsite events, expert planners and an AV company on-site.
Accista Spa with full service salon, Pebble Beach Company’s Championship Del Monte Golf Course, a full-service racquet club, corporate team-building events, 24 hour gym, pools, massage therapy, biking, jogging and walking trails, YogaAway™.
Local Attractions: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur Coastline, Monterey County Wineries, Pebble Beach Golf Courses, and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Our stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa began with a check in and storing of our bags in our room. Upon arrival, we discovered this (pictured below) in our room. It was a cheese, nut and dried fruit plate with some sparkling waters (available on the room service menu) Thank you, and yes, please! :)
After settling in, it was time for our dinner at TusCA Ristorante inside the main lobby building. It was so nice to have dinner at the hotel because we had been traveling for quite a while, and I was a little too tired venture out for fun. TusCA features farm-fresh California cuisine with a Tuscan twist.
Our first glass of wine was the house Chardonnay: Canvas, by Michael Mondavi, which I am told he makes exclusively for the Hyatt. We studied the menu (lots of wonderful things from which to choose… entrées ranging from pizzas and pastas to main courses both with meat and vegetarian friendly). You can download their dinner menu here (the menu changes) to get an idea of the plates you might see at the restaurant.
Each table gets a basket of bread to begin (a bit laughable to us, being Paleo), but we LOVED the roasted garlic that it came with and shared it before our salads came.
I ordered an Argula, Bosc Pear, and Reggiano Salad with the Lemon Grape Seed Vinaigrette on the side.
Andy ordered the Roasted Beet Salad with Frisee, Tarragon, Hazelnut, and Grapefruit Vinaigrette:
Before we chose our main courses, Chef Mike came out to greet Andy and I at our table and to talk to us about this website and the Paleo diet. I thought it was admirable that the chef did a little homework and wanted to prepare a suitable Paleo meal for us! :) He was willing to swap out any noodles or rice with extra vegetables, even for the special that evening: Whole Wheat Pasta with Chorizo, Kale, and Mussels. Since the special could be “Paleo-ized”, that’s what Andy chose. I went with a Chicken Breast with Cauliflower, Cashew, Rainbow Chard and Maple Jus.
Chef Mike even treated us to a special Paleo dessert: Dried Cherry and Almond Dark Chocolate Bark garnished with a strawberry. We were thrilled. We are so used to just skipping dessert altogether, so it we were delighted by the gesture! :)
The meal at TusCA was wonderful, as was the service from our waiter, Josh. Thanks again to Chef Mike and staff for our warm welcome to Monterey.
On Sunday, May 12th, 2013, TusCA Ristorante will serve Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Live entertainment will be provided by the David Morwood Jazz Band. Reservations are strongly suggested. You can find TusCA on OpenTable here or call the restaurant at (831) 657-6675.
After dinner, Andy and I walked over to the Fireplace Lounge (steps away from the restaurant–in fact, you don’t even have to go outside since the lounge is situated between TusCA and the main lobby area). We sat down at a table and ordered a round of drinks while we listened to some live jazz. On weekends, Fireplace Lounge welcomes the local talent of jazz musicians Marshall Otwell and Dr. David Thomas Morwood. There is always entertainment on weekend evenings and Sunday mornings.
Across from Fireplace Lounge is Knuckles® Historical Sports Bar which has been voted by locals as the number-one sports bar on the Monterey Peninsula for ten years in a row. Recently, they launched a Cheese and Beer Pairing Menu, and have introduced California’s first Table Tender system which offers self-service draft beer with two taps at a table seating up to 12 people.
The next day, Andy, me, and the rest of the invited writers took a tour of the property. The Hyatt Regency Monterey has two heated, outdoor free-form pools (one of which Frank Sinatra once drove his car into). There are also two outdoor whirlpools, a new 12,000-square-foot full-service spa, featuring spa suites and a host of soothing treatments, the Hyatt Stay Fit gym available 24 hours (with men’s and women’s shower rooms), jogging paths; bicycle trails and bicycle rental, a racquet club with lighted tennis courts; tennis lessons available, and the on-property, 18-hole Pebble Beach Company’s Del Monte Golf Course with preferred tee times for hotel guests.
Below is a picture of the carpet in the conference center. I loved it! The unique thing about it is that it is non-repeating in its pattern!
There is also a President’s House on the property. A four-bedroom, five-bathroom stand-alone home with a complete kitchen, a private patio, a heated swimming pool, and an open-beam living room and den, both with fireplaces (which was occupied at the time of our tour).
After the outdoor tour, our group was given a tour of the Accista Spa facility. I was quite impressed with both the gym and the spa at the Hyatt Monterey. The gym had at least 4 treadmills as well as several ellipticals, stationary bikes, free weights, toning and strength training machines, resistance bands, exercise balls and stretching/yoga mats. Take it from me, this is the place to stay if you love working out! PS: It’s open 24 hours a day!
Each member of our tour group was treated to a spa treatment that morning: massage or pedicure, etc. Andy and I chose a 50 minute Signature Accista Couples Massage. Shout out to Elli (my masseuse) for her great work on my shoulders and legs. In the locker room there is water with fresh fruit in it and in the waiting room there is fresh fruit, water, dried cranberries and pecans. They must have known I was coming. ;) To see all the ways to spoil yourself at Accista Spa click here for their menu.
We had the rest of the day to ourselves, so Andy and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and then had dinner at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto. I mention the restaurant because I think it’s important you go there if you visit Monterey. It’s so old school, but not outdated. There are great deals on wine and locals get discounts. I had my favorite meal (a Cobb Salad) only with halibut on it instead of chicken. Loved it!
A big thank you to the management and staff of the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. Andy and I were honored to tour and stay at the property and give my readers a look at what your hotel has to offer their guests, as well as so many improvements you’ve made over the hotel’s development. You can find the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Facebook here and on twitter here.
As Rock ’n Restaurants approaches, organizers have secured robust support from several restaurants and industry partners that will be integral in making the event possible. The event is slated to kick off with a VIP reception at 5 p.m. April 9 at the the Crest Theatre in Sacramento, with the concert to begin at 7 p.m.
USA Today has called Allen Stone a “pitch-perfect powerhouse” and he’s performed on the Ellen Degeneres Show, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Call with Carson Daly and Live from Daryl’s House and was a featured artist on VH1’s You Oughta Know. But the 25-year-old performer from Chewelah, Wash. just sees himself as “a hippie with soul.”
Like many soul singers, Stone got his start in church. He is the son of a preacher, so whipping crowds into a call-and-response frenzy is second nature. Steeped in gospel music and shielded from secular songs, Allen didn’t discover soul music until he was a teenager and started collecting classic albums from the 1960s and ’70s.
“Soul music from that time wasn’t just about bumpin’ and grindin’ at the club – it was a huge part of a cultural movement,” Stone said. “That’s where my inspiration comes from.”
Rock ’n Restaurants will conclude the CRA’s 2013 Lobby Day event, which involves restaurant industry leaders from across the country convening in Sacramento to discuss legislative issues affecting restaurant with lawmakers at the Capitol.
Farm Fresh to You and UBER Cab are also in-kind sponsors.
Several CRA chapters also are lending support to the event, including Sacramento, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Diego County and Orange County.
Event tickets cost $50 and will be available to purchase on calrest.org soon. Proceeds from the event will benefit the CRA Issues Political Action Committee.
For more information about the event or sponsorship opportunities, contact governmentaffairs(nospace) atcalrest(dot)org. You can find the California Restaurant Association on Facebook here. You can register for the event here.
Please join me for the 25th Annual Winter Wine & Food Fest on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at the Sacramento Convention Center. Food, Wine Tasting and Silent Auction take place from 5:00 p.m.- 7:30 p.m, and the exclusive VIP Live Auction is from 7:30 p.m.- 10:00 p.m.
1,000+ people are expected to attend this exclusive event, featuring more than 100 of the best local restaurants and wineries. Guests will enjoy a live and silent auction, live entertainment and delicious food and drink from elite restaurants and wineries. Come hear the compelling stories of two Wish Ambassadors, Chris and Emily.
This year, Joe and Pat Harbison are being honored for greatly contributing to this event.
This elegant Make-A-Wish® event raises funds to grant wishes for children ages 2 and 1/2 to 18 with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their human experience with hope, strength, and joy. All proceeds raised stay within Northeastern California and Northern Nevada chapter and make dreams a reality for our local wish children. Last year this fundraiser was able to grant 87 wishes to children.
This year, there will be more than 300 silent and super silent auction items and about 35 live auction items including the following:
Admission is $85 per person ($100 at the door) OR $185 per person ($200 at the door) for VIP tickets. No one under 21 permitted. For tickets contact Melissa Arnold at 916.692.3921 or email marnold(at)necannv.wish.org.
It’s that time again! Sacramento’s Dine Downtown week began yesterday, January 9th and runs through January 18th, 2012. For 10 days only, you can enjoy a special three-course dinner menu at some of downtown Sacramento’s hottest restaurants for only $30 per person.
I returned to both of the restaurants I visited last year because I really enjoyed working with both the owners and chefs, and because Andy and enjoyed the menus very much. So, I’d like to present to you: Blue Prynt Restaurant and Bar.
First, here’s what you’ll have to choose from* this year:
*Please note that only the mashed potatoes are available with the Prime Rib. :)
We chose a 2009 Rosenblum Syrah Vintner’s Cuvée to go with our entrée. Hint: We didn’t choose the tilapia for dinner. The wine was spicy, yet balanced with notes of cherry and licorice, and would pair well with any game meat. The alcohol on this wine is 15.9%.
For our appetizer, we ordered the shrimp cocktail. The shrimp (poached in lemon) were fresh and plump and the cocktail sauce was spiced with lots of horseradish.
We were also brought a basket of house-made foccacia, and though Andy and I don’t normally eat bread, I tasted some and took a photo of the basket so that you will know exactly everything you get for the dine downtown menu. The bread is baked, sliced and then toasted again for your table, and served with butter. A few bites of it made for a good palate cleanser for the wine after eating the spicy cocktail sauce. Another little detail I love about Blue Prynt is their water. Yes, the simple water they pour for you at the table. They flavor it with sliced cucumber. Such a great departure from lemon wedges. :)
For the second course (by the way, you get more food for $30 here at Blue Prynt than at any other restaurant participating in Dine Downtown), we ordered the seafood chowder and a mixed greens salad.
The chowder is made with a blend of halibut, shrimp, and salmon with bacon and potatoes rounding out the flavor. Andy ordered it, and suggested I try some. I was pleasantly surprised because I am not a chowder or even a soup fan, and I enjoyed it very much. Especially last night. It was a perfect match for the chilly weather we are currently having. :)
The salad was pretty standard (but loved it). It became more of my main course (so that I don’t overeat). I love ordering an entrée and slicing whatever meat I get on the dinner plate and putting it on top of my salad. That’s exactly what I did last night. The salad comes with cheddar cheese and olives on it. I also ordered blue cheese dressing on the side.
The stars of the meal were the main courses. Both entrée plates were very sizable portions. I ordered the prime rib. It came with blue cheese and bacon mashed potatoes, asparagus and some au jus for the meat. I really loved the spice rub on the prime!!
Andy ordered the pan seared venison also served with grilled asparagus and blue cheese bacon mashed potatoes. The venison was so tender and perfectly cooked. Andy let me have a whole medallion! :) The particular cut being served comes from the thigh and the meat was sourced from Australia. The venison also comes with a flavorful mushroom sauce. The mashed potatoes were a great little bed for both entrées, and took on some of the flavor of the different meats on the plate. And anything with blue cheese and bacon makes the world a better place. :)
As if that wasn’t enough food, it was on to dessert. Andy let me have the rest of his wine (thanks, honey) as he moved on to a giant phyllo dough flower with ice cream and both caramel and chocolate sauces. It’s almost becoming a joke with how much food he can get away with and not gain any weight. I actually like having him around because I can order food I would not normally try, have a few bites, and pass the rest to him. The phyllo flower was beautiful, and reminded me a lot of fried ice cream you would get at a Mexican restaurant.
I ordered the chocolate-covered strawberries as I did last year. This time, the chocolate was flavored with a little mint. I really liked them. I had two of them, and Andy must have really liked them as well because he had the rest of them… along with about 95% of the phyllo flower and ice cream. :P
So there you have it. The Dine Downtown menu at Blue Prynt. You have until Friday, January 18th to enjoy the pre fixe menu above, and Chef Jason reports the main entrées will be available on the regular menu in case you’d like to try them after the promotion ends.
I’d also like to mention Blue Prynt’s all-you-can-eat crab feed on February 9th (yes, please!) for $35 per person. PS: That the price didn’t go up from last year. Call the restaurant at (916) 492-2969 for more information.
Blue Prynt’s Facebook page is located here and you can follow them on twitter here. Here is a link to their Happy Hour page. Join them from 4:30-7:00pm for $4 house wine, $3 well cocktails, $2 PBR, and $2 side-car shot with the purchase of a drink (see shot shelf at the restaurant for options).
For a full list of the Dine Downtown participating restaurants and their menus, you can click here.
Check in here on Saturday for my review of Blackbird Kitchen and Bar’s Dine Downtown menu!
Well, I just found my new favorite restaurant. Unfortunately for me, it’s in Downtown Napa, so I won’t be able to visit as often as I would like. The name of the restaurant is Tarla Mediterranean Grill and they serve cuisine that is a beautiful blend of Turkish and Greek influences. It also happens to be located in the same building as one of my favorite places to stay in Napa, the Avia Hotel.
I picked Tarla Mediterranean Grill not only because of its close proximity to the Uptown Theatre (where we were headed later to see Robert Cray and his band), but it was also a nod to Andy’s heritage. Andy is half-Greek, so I thought it would be the perfect choice for his birthday celebration.
Tarla Mediterranean Grill opened last year, and is owned by Yusuf Topal and his wife Breanna. Yusuf’s background is in hospitality, as he was a former maitre d’ and manager of various cruise ship restaurants.
The head chef is Gerry Castro. He attended CIA and has worked for the likes of Far Niente Winery, Ceja Vineyards, Farmstead Restaurant, and Murray Circle (a Michelin starred restaurant in Sausalito).
The restaurant seats only 46, and has a great patio area if you prefer to dine outside. The interior has a clean, informal, and inviting look with tangerine and olive hues in the decor. There are nice touches to each table including candles and turkish white copper cups (in which water is served to guests).
We kicked off the birthday dinner with a half bottle of Malamatina Retsina, and began the meal with Tarla’s Greek salad. I also ordered a side of hummus to use as a dip for the tomatoes and cucumbers in the salad.
Then we ordered the Meatballs served with caramelized eggplant, bell peppers, and fresh tomato sauce.
For my main course, I ordered the Tiger prawns and diver scallops, served with parsnip puree and pomegranate currant sauce. Everything in the dish is Paleo, and it was the first dish that caught my eye on the menu. It was almost like the chef called Andy, asked him what all my favorite foods are, then put some of them together. It was as wonderful as I imagined.
Andy chose the Fresh Alaskan halibut, which is pistachio crusted and served with vegetable ragu and white wine butter sauce. Again, every ingredient was Paleo and once again, unbelievably good.
We finished our meal with 2 desserts. This usually works because I take one or two bites and then pass over to Andy to finish. That way, nobody is deprived. And it was a special occasion, so what the heck. :)
The first dessert was poached apricots stuffed with mascarpone cheese and rolled in pistachios. The sweetness was balanced with the cheese filling, and pistachios just make something that already tastes great, taste even better.
At this point writing my post, I am realizing we really ate a lot of food that night! But wait, there’s more…
The owner brought out a second dessert for us like nothing I have ever seen or tried before! It is called kunefe (shredded phyllo dough baked with shredded coconut and sweet cheese). Not primal or even Paleo, but a nice treat nonetheless. I had a few bites and had Andy finish the rest. The texture and flavor was unlike anything I have ever tried before. Baklava might sound good and traditional, but trust me… try the kunefe. You can thank me later. I liked it so much I am going to work on a gluten-free, sugar free version. :) Just wow.
Other dishes on the menu include spanokopita, calamari, saganaki, chicken and lamb shish kebabs, Turkish stuffed eggplant, and musakka (a traditional dish in both Turkey and Greece). By the way, if you’ve never had saganaki, just do it. It’s amazing.
The other wine we shared at dinner was a 2011 Peju Sauvignon Blanc. The wine list is so reasonable it’s unreasonable! My alcohol bill for the retsina and the sauvignon blanc was only about $35. Also, every Wednesday, the restaurant features a select wine list with bottles 50% off until 7:30pm.
No entree on the menu is over $20, and as you can see in the pictures, the portions are generous.
Tarla Mediterranean Grill is located at 1480 1st Street, Downtown Napa. To contact the restaurant, call (707) 255-5599. Their happy hour is Monday-Friday 3-6pm, and late night happy hour is 8:30-10pm. They are open Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday 11am-11pm, Saturday 10am-11pm, and Sunday 10am-10pm.