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MUSTARDS GRILL in Napa Valley, California, has good reason for the constant line-ups
By Barbara Kingstone
From the outside, one is wary about entering what looks like any other roadside restaurant. On entering, nothing much is different – some wood paneling and black and white tiled floors- no sleek anything.. There is a look of an ordinary, everyday highway stop over. You certainly don’t come here for the décor. Mustards opened in 1983 and that longevity of any restaurant is obviously due to the food and service.
Mustards Grill, this highly rated restaurant in the land of foodies, is considered one of the best eateries. Of course, in Yountville, 10 minutes away there is also the world famous The French Laundry. Plus the mega- magnificent vineyards a few minutes further north, including Frank Family Vineyard where the Pinot Noir is one of the finest and the over 40 year old, internationally known Mondavi Vineyard.
By noon at Mustards, every table was full and I was grateful to have made reservations weeks ahead of time. One wonders about the constant talk of California’s economy. You couldn’t tell from this overcrowded sizeable place. Not an empty table to be found and with a short line at the door, many had to be turned away, obviously not knowing the popularity or need to book well ahead.
I was delighted by the universally friendly and helpful atmosphere in Napa Valley. The area is filled with people who seemed to have found their Nirvana as does the staff and their happiness seems to flow over. The waiters’ youthful vigor is so catching. And their uniforms- jeans, white shirts, sneakers and mustard colored aprons- is the perfect statement for Mustards. This unpretentious ambience is so attractive and appealing to varied demographics. A few tables away there was the cutest 2 years old while at another nearby table were a quartet of octogenarians who seem to know their food and wine. I even liked the cutlery which had a great feel to it and the no nonsense dishes.
The no-fuss eatery places the bread on the table cover, no fancy basket or dish, but who cared since it was the most delicious bread I have had in a very long time and I consider bread my favorite food, hence I’m a self declared bread aficionado. The casual restaurant invited their clients to feel comfortable and they’ve taken it to the nth degree since there wasn’t a jacket or tie in sight. Even the maitre d’, James, wore jeans (probably designer label) and was so pleasant as he greeted guests and walked about the premises making sure everyone was happy. As they say, “what’s not to be happy about”.
We both started off with Sweet Black Rice with vegetables soup. That was a meal in itself – and different and delicious (recipe in the Cuisine section). I chose grilled scallops, large, tender with a selection of al dente vegetables. My husband opted for the signature Mongolian pork chop which I could see other guests choosing also. However, I also lusted after the hamburger that I notices on a few tables and also the thinnest, fried onion rings…but there was only so much one could eat. We had to leave some ‘space’ for the renowned lemon meringue pie. And what a worthwhile wait. The airy meringue was easily 5 inches high, caramelized on top while the lemon custard was so light on the finest of pastry.
Since this is the best wine regions in the USA, wines, in this area are special and the white Chardonnay had a citrus, crisp taste. The Reserve Red was to my liking..nice “legs” and very dry.
That lunch has been the topic of conversation for months now. Over the years, I’ve learned never to judge a book by its cover. Although Mustards Grill isn’t an architectural triumph, the food is epic. I give it a WOW.
7399 Saint Helena Highway
Tel 707 944 2424
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|Print article||This entry was posted by Barbara Kingstone on March 9, 2011 at 12:42 am, and is filed under American, Cuisine, Destinations, North America. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|