Napa Valley Bistro offers classic American cuisine with a modern feel, using seasonal, sustainably produced foods. Chefs Bernardo Ayala (who most recently was executive chef at Silverado Brewing Company) and Eduardo Martinez (most recently executive chef at Market) have developed well-received, creative menus for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch and also offer daily specials.
There’s a bar and some lounge seating at the entryway, which offers a peek into the kitchen. The adjacent dining room has benched and wood/leather seating and a beamed ceiling. White tablecloths show off the colorful, flavorful food and the service is exemplary.
The wine list focuses on Napa Valley producers, with a select few choices from Sonoma County and Anderson Valley. Items from almost every category on the list are offered by the glass. There were also several beers on tap and further choices available by the bottle.
To begin our meal, we chose seared ahi tuna (fresh, flavorful), served in a large, crispy wonton (open) shell, with Asian slaw, drizzled with ginger jus and wasabi oil, as well as the night’s salad special of heirloom tomatoes (all colors, shapes and sizes), thin-sliced, sweet watermelon, fresh mozzarella, red onions and basil. Both dishes were light and enjoyable.
The standout appetizers for us, though, were the blackened chicken empenadas, which had perfectly thin and crisp shells and came with coleslaw and avocado on top, with black bean puree. There were two sauces, avocado/tomatillo (nice heat to this one—it was our favorite) and guajillo pepper (more mild heat).
Our first entrée was blue corn tortilla “crusted” halibut (I put crusted in quotes because actually it was placed on top). The halibut was outstanding and sat on a bed of sweet corn, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and cubed potatoes. The crunchy top layer was garnished with sprouts, while the light, slightly buttery-tasting sauce really brought the inventive dish together well.
Next up was Niman Ranch St. Luis ribs, which were rich and fatty and so tender they literally fell off the bone. They came with plenty of sweet potato fries and a bit of tangy coleslaw (we wanted more!), with some extra sauce on the side.
We couldn’t settle on one dessert, so we tried both the mango ginger sorbet (lots of ginger and sweet mango; it reminded us of Thai food, and had crunchy, thin-rolled cookies in it) and the Gravenstein apple tart, which came with a scoop of rich, black mission fig ice cream, cranberries and lots of crunch—delicious.
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