Amuse-Bouche

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Warm and Cold

Last weekend, we went to Foreign Cinema for the first time. As per my request, we were seated inches away from the restaurant's fireplace, making for a very warm and lovely meal. Last night, we dined at Pilar, a newish restaurant in downtown Napa. We were plopped next to a window near the entrance (not what we had requested), causing me to focus more on my coldness during the meal, rather the well-prepared food.

Before our Foreign Cinema experience, we had drinks at Laszlo, the bar connected to Foreign Cinema. We whiled an hour away on a leather couch in the bar's loft-like upstairs level. The bar is very stark and eurotrash, yet cozy. Our evening at Foreign Cinema itself was the best first-time experience I've had at a restaurant in quite some time. I started with a chicory salad with garlic croutons (Aren with the beef carpaccio, a stand-out dish) before moving onto halibut for my main and pavlova for my dessert. The best part of our meal may have been the 1997 Mount Veeder cab we brought -- it didn't exactly match my halibut, but I really didn't mind. After sharing a half glass with us, our server kindly waved the corkage fee.

I had a rather draining week at work last week, so Aren promised to take me away for Saturday night if I promised to leave laptop and work behind. We escaped to the Carneros Inn in wine country for an overnight. Uncharacteristically, we opted for an afternoon of spa treatments, rather than hit up some wineries. Even though we didn't run into Gavin (the Newsoms manage the Plumpjack facilities, of which the inn is part), we enjoyed our stay. Our tin-roofed cottage featured heated slate floors in the bathroom and an outdoor shower in our private patio which was accessible from the french doors a hop-step from our bed. Luxurious.

Aren had read about Pilar on a fellow Stanford alumnus' blog. The food was simple, fresh, and elegant, but the service was not. After waiting 45 minutes for the back corner table we had been promised, we were seated at the abovementioned table. Fortunately, I had Aren to rub my goosebumped arms throughout the meal, which, again, was very good. I had a raddichio salad with balsamic poached cherries and parmesan reggiano, seared halibut on a bed of leek-whatnot, and an apple tart. Unfortunately for Pilar, I don't think we'll be returning. There are too many other restaurants in wine country that have not only good food, but also good service and atmosphere.

Aren't you happy I'm back?

3 Comments:

  • At April 10, 2006 9:55 AM, Anonymous Jeff said…

    That's a lot of halibut for one weekend.

     
  • At April 10, 2006 10:17 AM, Blogger Ficus said…

    welcome back!

     
  • At May 01, 2006 9:46 PM, Anonymous Olivia said…

    I'm so sorry to hear that Pilar was a disappointment! I've been a handful of times now and, though the room was chilly at the beginning of our very early recent dinner there, at least the service has been consistently friendly and timely. I wonder if it was an off night?

     

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