On occasion I do travel outside of Arizona, and after consulting a core group of my readers and friends, I have decided to start featuring some of the great places I find in other areas too. As many of you know I spend a lot of time digging deeper than certain mobile apps and websites to find some of the beaten path restaurants. I also love when it is possible to find fantastic food from super accomplished chefs and a price that many may not believe.
While visiting different locales, I always love to experience new things. I routinely start the search for places to eat, more than a month to the actual trip. While there is nothing wrong with going to restaurants that you can find at home, I personally feel that I should visit them while at home. The experience of a new city should be grouped together with a new culinary experience as well. My destination was Napa, California on this trip. So after spending a lovely private wine tasting at The Donum Estate vineyard, I turned the group’s attention toward food. I was thrilled to hear from our private host, Kari, that some of the places I had picked were her favorites. It is always nice to be validated by the locale residents.
The Donum Estate is a highly recommended vineyard to visit. Other than the different wines they offer, they also have a complete farm on site and magnificent sculptures and art through out the property. I was even able to sample some of their private label Olive Oil, and I was in heaven. You do need to make a reservation to visit this spot, but it is worth it. Also if you have a designated driver in the group, like ME, they can be lenient on the tasting fee. Not all places are so willing. If you do decide to visit, ask for Kari as she has a very pleasant manner and is a wonderful conversationalist.
We were not quite starving once the tasting was complete so after leaving the Carneros region of Napa we headed back toward the Napa downtown region. I love public markets, especially ones that are located indoors where all the enticing smells tangle together to give you a euphoric feeling. Also I knew that there was a great restaurant that had its entrance hidden off the main section of the Public Market. Kitchen Door is the invention of renowned chef Todd Humphries and his business partner Richard Miyashiro. Together they have either worked, managed or help create some of the most well known restaurants in San Francisco. In 2011 they opened Kitchen Door to present visitors with a chance to enjoy the highly accomplished chefs delicious food in a unique social gathering set up, but also at a more palatable price point.
After being seated in their bright and open dining room, we quickly went about reviewing the menu. Two appetizers jumped off the menu quickly but there were quite a few tantalizing options. The first item we ordered was the Potato Bravas ($6.95). This is a dish of cut and lightly boiled potatoes that are then fried in oil and served with a dash of Paprika. In the center is a dish of lemon aioli for dipping. It is a very popular dish that is often seen at Tapas bars through out Spain and Madrid. The potatoes are tender to the bite and have a warm comfort from the fryer. It is a great dish to share amongst the table, as there are a lot of potatoes to go around. You may want to ask for another dish of the aioli, as it is delicious and may not be enough for those that like to cover more of the potato than others.
We also ordered for the table the Wood Fired Chicken Wings ($10.25). They are cooked over a wood flame on the same rotisserie as their other chicken dishes. After being kissed by the heat of the wood, they are then tossed in a sweet Teriyaki glaze that coats and adheres to the wings perfectly. They are then topped with a few toasted Sesame seeds and some spicy mayonnaise. The dish comes with a good number of wings, so if you weren’t sharing with the table it could easily be a light entrée for a patron. The chicken wings were bigger than many I have been served prior in other establishments, which made it a great dish to share amongst the table as one wing was more than enough for a few in the group.
After a perfect amount of digestion from the first dishes, the entrees arrived. I think pacing is something many restaurants and wait staff fail at occasionally. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you get your meal a few minutes after an appetizer. This was most definitely not the case here. We had plenty of time to enjoy each dish and still have a nice conversation before the next dishes arrived. The menu provides a great eclectic option for food choices, that it easily caters to all palates.
The first entrée was the Half Roasted Chicken ($22.95). Cooked over the wood flame rotisserie, this plump and juicy chicken is a lot of bird on the plate. It is served with creamy Mashed Potatoes and a delightfully, flavorful Peppercorn gravy. Accompanying the chicken and potatoes are perfectly steamed Broccolini and Asparagus. This is a filling dish that is full of flavor. The chicken is so wonderful when it is mixed with some of the potatoes and the gravy. If you arrive with a big appetite this may be just the dish for you to order.
The next entrée was Posole Rojo ($16.95). Posole is a traditional Mexican soup that is served in many southwestern households year round, but specifically on Christmas Eve for dinner. The Rojo or Red version signifies that it is made with pork shoulder or shanks as well as with red Chiles and Hominy corn typically. In this case it is like you find it traditionally but with crispy Carnitas as well as some other great items that have been added to the broth during cooking. The big bowl of Posole is served with some side dishes that added to the experience while eating. If you are a fan of spicy dishes, then you will not be disappointed.
The final entrée was another unique dish on the menu. The Korean style Short Ribs entrée we ordered was served with Bacon Fried Rice ($19.95). The short ribs had a delightful soya glaze which is a combination of soy and honey. The Bacon Fried rice had nice mushrooms and other standard vegetable in the mix with the little bit of cooked Bacon. The plate came with three slices of short rib sections and it made a very filling entrée. It was amazing that all three dishes all of different regions and cooking styles all shined on their own. On occasion when you visit a restaurant that serves multiple culinary styles either one or none of them are done exceptionally. This cannot be said at Kitchen Door. Every single dish shined and it was quite magical that they all came from the same kitchen.
The service was impeccable and every person that we interacted with was friendly, polite and helpful. The view out the wall of windows that displayed the deck that sits above the river was only marred by the overcast and rainy day. I look forward to returning and enjoying another lovely meal, perhaps next time on the deck in the sun. One thing is for sure, if someone says they want to show you the door, make sure it is the Kitchen Door in Napa.
Location and Website: Oxbow Public Market – 610 1st St #24, Napa, CA 94559, https://www.kitchendoornapa.com/