Saturday, October 1, 2011
Tyler Florence's "Rotisserie & Wine" in Napa
I work hard, but I love to play hard as well. My idea of playing hard may not mean the same thing to a lot of folks. When the weekend rolls around, the ultimate for me is to go check out a new restaurant with my hubby or friends. Love to enjoy a great glass of wine along with a sample of various items from the menu through sharing with everyone at the table. The more different tastes the better.
Last weekend I hit the jackpot by having lunch at Tyler Florence’s relatively new venture, Rotisserie & Wine in Napa. It was not a planned lunch destination, but happened more by chance. My friend and I traveled to Oxbow Public Market in Napa, which I will share in another post soon. Luckily Napa is just less than an hour away from where I live. After the market, we set off across the way to check out the newly constructed Riverwalk in Napa.
When we walked parallel to the river, which happened to have multiple wonderful restaurants all lined up. First there was Morimoto Napa (need to still eat there) and Fish Story (looks interesting) and nestled in between was Tyler’s place, Rotisserie & Wine. Having heard good things, it has been on my restaurant bucket list for some time. We were shopping in Tyler’s store, right next door and Jessica the manager encouraged us to grab a bite there. Once we perused the menu, the hook of the small bites led us to grab a table outside facing the river.
The décor is filled with white subway tiles on the walls and the ambiance is rustic wine country chic. From the first view of the entry, you will notice bold unique leather club chairs to the half barrel chandeliers that adorn the front; your eyes are in for a design treat. With the combination of slightly off white walls with dark wood accents, there is warmth everywhere with a cool vibe trailing behind. On the back wall are, free standing cabinets of wine along a continuous wall flanked with bottles of wine and several are Tyler’s own label. The furniture is a combination of metal and wood with a funky yet stylish wine country vibe.
We were surprised that a crowd was not waiting outside to land a table, perhaps we got there a bit before the lunch frenzy. In any event, we were seated at a perfect table outside and the weather was barely 80 degrees – just perfect. Once we scanned the wine list, we both selected a Tyler Florence wine. As they say, “when in Rome……”, but in this case, we needed to pay homage to the proprietor. I had the Cabernet Sauvignon and Helen had the Sauvignon Blanc. Both were simply outstanding – note to self – purchase Tyler wine ASAP.
Not expecting such a treat, the waiter soon brought us an oval dish with two corn sticks. These were not any ordinary corn sticks; they were incredibly light, with custard like center but lightly crispy on the outside. They came out warm and served alongside with a honey drizzled creamy light butter. You could say it was cornbread with gougere influences and shaped like a churro. They were to die for. We could have easily devoured three or four more each.
Tyler is one smart cookie – at his first restaurant on the west coast, Wayfare Tavern, he serves piping hot popovers, now these decadent corn sticks – what is next? This is actually a brilliant idea for restaurants, create a unique starchy starter to intrigue your guests and bring them back for more.
Helen and I shared a porchetta sandwich earlier from the Fatted Calf that was supremely tasty with each and every bite. Our appetites were there, but not enough for a heavy lunch – so small plates it was for us.
We first shared Deviled Eggs with Fried Capers, Crispy Shallots and Thyme Oil. The creamy mixture that sat in the center of the tender egg was perfectly smooth. Now you add the crispy caper and shallot, you have a bite of perfection. These eggs were both tasty and a feast for the eyes. I thought it was a cleaver idea to use a tad of the egg mixture to secure the eggs from slipping in the small cast iron pan.
Next we celebrated the heirloom tomato season with a plate of vivid colored gems. They were adorned with pickled red onion and crispy basil sprinkled across the tomatoes. A light drizzle of wonderful olive oil accented this end of summer delight.
Our final dish was the grand finale – Mac & Cheese with Smoked Olive Oil. Let me just say, we discovered the smoked olive oil at the farmer’s market earlier that day and it is the most unique and tasty item I have had in a long time. Of course, we each bought a bottle of it. Mark my words; this will be a world wide hit very soon. Back to the Mac & Cheese, it was al dente orecchiette with a super creamy and rich cheese sauce with the hint of smoke from the olive oil and toasty bread crumbs adorned the top. It was incredibly delicious and decadent. Worth every calorie!
Our plates were cleared and the last sip of wine remained when the dessert menu arrived. Typically I would indulge, but we just could not manage another plate in front of us. Although it was tempting with choices like: Peanut Crisp with chocolate and peanut butter ice cream or Dark Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis or Buttermilk Panna Cotta with late harvest fruit.
After our divine lunch, we headed back to the Tyler Florence kitchen store that is adjacent to the restaurant to let Jessica know that her recommendation to grab a bite to eat was well worth it. Tyler – we are glad that you decided to make your mark in the Bay Area – keep up the brilliant job!
NOTE: Unfortunately Tyler's restaurant has since closed!