There’s plenty of good restaurants in the Napa Valley, but for me a trip just doesn’t feel complete without a stop at a Thomas Keller establishment. There would be no French Laundry on this brief trip, but a stop here at the more casual Ad Hoc was in order. The restaurant serves a 4-course fixed menu for $52, although there’s regularly a supplemental dish offered as well. Since the menu isn’t published until the morning of the meal, it’s a little bit of a crapshoot depending on what you’re looking for. We lucked out this time as this evening’s menu featured steak – a ribeye to be exact.
Hog Island Oyster Co. is based out of Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco, with oyster bar locations in both San Francisco’s Ferry Building and Napa’s Oxbow Market. As its name implies, the restaurant serves up fresh oysters and other shellfish of all varieties, prepared very simply.
I’ve been to both the SF and Napa locations a couple of times. They’ve been very popular with both locals and tourists; lengthy waits are commonplace at this no-reservations spot especially on weekends. While spending the long holiday weekend in Napa, I stopped in for a lunch meal.
Lord Stanley opened about a year ago and has garnered some high praise in its first year. It received a Michelin star in October and was added to Michael Bauer’s Top 100 Restaurants in the Bay Area list in April after getting 3 1/2 stars from him.
The food is from the husband/wife team of Carrie and Rupert Blease, formerly of Commonwealth and Central Kitchen. At Lord Stanley, they are cooking a refined cuisine described as modern European/Californian. A seven course tasting menu is available ($83), but we went a la carte on this evening.
San Francisco has seen a lot of growth in its sushi scene in recent years, particularly in the high end segment. Michelin-starred sushi restaurants Maruya, Kusakabe, and Wako opened in 2013-2014; Omakase opened in 2015 joining that group with a Michelin star of its own. I’ve yet to go to one of those other restaurants, but was able to squeeze in Omakase as my last dinner in San Francisco over the Christmas holiday.
Two fixed menus are available each evening, one at the $150 level and one at $200. From what I could tell, the higher level offered a couple more pieces of sushi and a beef course towards the end of the meal (at least on this evening). We went for the $200 level.
Kin Khao is blogger Pim Techamuanvivit’s first restaurant, opened in early 2014. Here, Techamuanvivit shares the flavors of her Thai homeland with a slightly modernized take. The restaurant has received generally positive reviews including a Michelin star in the 2015 guide.
Kin Khao is certainly a bit ‘expensive’ for Thai cuisine, but I stopped in for a spontaneous weekday lunch to try a few items. The pricing is slightly more approachable at lunch, however the menu offers significantly less options.
Oro opened in September, the second restaurant from chef Jason Fox of the Michelin-starred restaurant Commonwealth. I’ve had some great meals at Commonwealth over the years, so I was very interested in trying this spot. The restaurant was one of the few that could welcome a party of 8 on Christmas Eve, so it was an opportune chance to try the restaurant with some extended family.
A la carte is available at the restaurant, as well as a blind tasting menu served family style for $75pp. To make things easier with such a large party, we opted for the tasting format. It turned out to be a ton of food.
Brenda’s is one of the city’s most popular brunch spots (although it is open for dinner too), serving up a mashup of southern soul food and American brunch standbys. That means gumbo, po’boys and beignets on the menu next to omelets and French toast.
This was my first time to the restaurant; we were able to squeeze into the last two seats available during a busy Monday lunch rush. Breakfast is served until 3pm while lunch is served from 11am onwards, and we arrived right in that sweet spot where both menu options were available. We tried a couple of items from each.
Octavia is Melissa Perello’s second restaurant following the success of Michelin-starred Frances. Frances has been consistently popular since opening in 2009, so it was no surprise to hear Perello would open this sequel six years later. Opened in April, Octavia’s garnered mostly positive reviews including its very own Michelin star this year.
I stopped in for a late, rather spontaneous dinner over the Thanksgiving holiday. Pictures were taken with my phone for this post.