Note to future me: four wineries is too much for one day. B and I just returned from a great long weekend in California, the first two days of which we spent in Napa wine tasting with friends before driving to Santa Cruz for the wedding of two others. I don’t think we’ll be drinking wine for awhile. The eight of us managed six wineries in two days (four on the first day, two on the second). The generosity of our hosts on day one was a compelling reason to take it easy on day two. Day one was enough that six of our group of eight (myself and B included) slept through dinner. The bartender who served the girls Coke that night out of a sippy cup (short plastic cup with a hot pink straw) informs us this is what is known as the “Napa Nap.” Lunch on day two was our first real restaurant meal.
After a great visit to Cakebread Cellars on Friday morning, everyone agreed that lunch sounded a little more our speed than another winery. With two separate recommendations for Mustards Grill, we decided to give them a shot.
Mustards Grill’s boasts a rather impressive list of accolades. From their owner and Executive Chef, Cindy Pawlcyn’s, James Beard award winning cookbook, The Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook to their Zagat rating, they have a lot to brag about. We were lucky that we wandered in a few minutes before the lunch rush because judging by the massive crowd formed at the door on our way out, they are well known.
A few of us had breakfast not too long before we stopped, so we weren’t entirely hungry. Many of their menu options made me wish I had been, though. The good part of eating with such a big group (other than the conversation) is that you at least get to see a bit more of what’s on the menu. Our group was comprised of 3 couples in addition to me and B: SS and MS, B2 and JH, and RC and BC so there was plenty of food on the table. SS ordered an appetizer that I can’t find on their online menu now, but it looked wonderful and everyone who tried it said it tasted as good as it looked.
For my choice, I had the Ahi tuna crackers with wasabi crème fraiche and soy vinaigrette along with a mixed greens salad with herbs and Banyuls vinaigrette. I asked our server if the crackers were very large since I wasn’t terribly hungry. He said they were pretty small. It turns out my idea of small and his are apparently very different. They were HUGE. The crackers themselves were thin, but very large. I only managed to eat one and a half, though they were really good. RC and BC took one and the server was still very concerned that something was wrong when there was half a cracker remaining on my plate. I don’t think he was used to people leaving their food behind.
The green salad was exactly what I needed after too much wine, and pizza. It was exactly what it purported itself to be… a giant pile of greens with a little vinaigrette. Fantastic.
After Mustards Grill, we headed back to the hotel before our last winery of the trip. Napa was overwhelming to say the least. It’s sort of two parts adult Disneyland, one part old people Spring Break, but we had a great time. The next time we visit, I think we’ll opt for fewer wineries where we can linger over food and wine and less of a schedule. I imagine you could make a dozen trips to Napa and still miss out on some great food and wine experiences.