Friday, April 2, 2010

dinner at Napa Rose

A friend and I had previously made plans to spend the day at the Disneyland Resort today since it was a company holiday for the place where we both work. The husband was planning to join us after he got off work. Because of other circumstances, I very much had Napa Rose on my mind, but I didn't know if my companions would be up for a visit with such late notice, and with the busy holiday and Spring Break season, I figured Napa Rose would be booked up for the day already.

We ended up having lunch at Whitewater Cafe, and on the way, the friend actually said she wanted to stop to look at the menu outside Napa Rose. The outside menu doesn't list the current Vintner's Menu, so I suggested we see if there was anyone inside so we could look at that menu. I noticed a couple of employees inside, so we went in, and then I saw one of the hostesses we've become familiar with. I asked if I could see the Vintner's Menu, but she said no, which surprised me. She said they hadn't printed them out yet (Friday night is the first night of the new weekly Vintner's Menu), so she didn't have anything to show me. I then asked offhandedly if they happened to have any openings for that night. She looked in the reservation book and said they had one table open. The friend said she was up for having dinner there, so I called the husband, and luckily, he was up for it as well. So, we were booked for dinner.

After spending the afternoon at DCA and Disneyland, we made our way back to Napa Rose in the evening for our reservation. We were taken to our table, and our server was someone I liked, the same one I'd had when I'd gone with another friend last December. I had my first look at the Vintner's Menu - and I was hooked. Everything on the menu sounded really good.

I was interested to see that for the entree, there were two different choices. Normally, there's just one entree. I asked our server if they'd been doing the choice of entree on the Vintner's for long, and he said it was just something they were trying out. The husband and I both had the Vintner's, me having the lamb entree and him having the fish entree. The friend chose a starter and an entree from the regular menu.

The Vintner's Menu always comes with an extra little taste, called the amuse bouche, and customarily, if most of the table orders the Vintner's, they will also give the amuse bouche to the others as well. The amuse bouche this evening was a tomato caprese salad with basil foam. It was a tiny little tasting portion, but it was really very tasty. The friend and I were trying to get every drop of the basil foam because it was so delicious.

Amuse bouche - tomato caprese salad with basil foam.

The next course was the scallops. I think this was my favorite non-dessert course of the night. The scallops were nicely cooked, great texture, and the grapefruit pieces and very light sauce was a really lovely accompaniment. A very nice dish indeed, and it would make a wonderful entree addition to the menu in summertime.

Scallops with lavender thyme noodles and grapefruit.

The third course was a baked asparagus tart. I love asparagus, so I liked having the asparagus pieces on top, and the yellow tomato sauce was delicious with the tart.

Baked asparagus tart.

I love lamb and am not that much a fan of risotto, so deciding between the two entree choices was easy, even though I'm also not a fan of rosemary, which was an ingredient in the lamb dish. The lamb was very tender and tasty, and the ragu made for a nice addition to the dish. It was all quite a bit of food, though, so I ended up taking home the whole "lamb roll", as I called it, on the top left. The picture below isn't very good because my camera doesn't do well taking pictures in low light, and as dinner wore on, the light from outside was diminishing as the sun went down, and our table wasn't brightly lit.

Lamb entree.

In the menu picture above, the items listed directly above the Vintner's Menu are the sides that are available. I love both brussel sprouts and parsnips, so I also ordered that for the husband and I to share. The brussel sprouts were perfectly cooked, still crunchy and flavorful, and the parsnips were tasty too. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a decent picture of the dish.

The husband very much enjoyed his dinner as well. He enjoyed his fish entree, which had the skin still on, so it was nicely crispy. He liked the risotto and the lobster pieces as well.

Then it came time for dessert. I love bread pudding (as long as there are no raisins in it), but the menu failed to mention that not only was there an individual portion of bread pudding, there was also a little portion of banana shake. Seriously yummy all around. The best bread pudding I've had was at another favorite restaurant, but this came in a very close second. The bread pudding was very moist and underneath were the caramelized bananas. The banana shake had a layer of caramel at the bottom. A great way to end a great meal.

Banana shake and bread pudding on caramelized bananas.

The service was a little less than stellar tonight. Our server was good (because of the many courses in the Vintner's, there was a lot of silverware constantly being replaced, so we joked with our server about that), but the busboy wasn't quite up to par. There was at least one occasion when he was a little sloppy when refilling my water glass and so spilled some of it on the table and splashed it a bit on other things sitting on the table. I only really noticed because we usually have no issues with the service whatsoever. The kitchen was also a little slower than normal, with longer waits in between courses, but I expect that was because the restaurant was so crowded. But all in all, it was still a very lovely dinner all around.

This Vintner's Menu is available through Thursday.

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