The Bay Area is a region teeming with world class dining, so it comes as no surprise that the Napa Valley is home to eight of the restaurants on Michael Bauer’s recently published list of the Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants. Bauer is an executive food and wine editor and restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. In the article he states:
“Compiling the Top 100 restaurants is like working a puzzle. Everything needs to fit together — varied locations, types of cuisines and price ranges. The challenge comes in finding places in all these categories that meet The Chronicle’s standards. Whether they’re in Los Gatos, San Anselmo, Oakland or San Francisco, whether you pay $150 for a meal or only $15, the restaurants have to be places where you’d want to spend your money, and return to again.”
Going through the list, there are no big shockers in the local restaurants that were selected. Two Thomas Keller establishments, The French Laundry and Bouchon made return appearances from last year’s list. Another Keller restaurant, Ad Hoc is also included in the eight. Other Napa restaurants that received recognition include Redd, Martini House, and Bistro Jeanty. However, not all were so lucky–two Napa Valley restaurants that made the cut last year were left off of the 2007 list. Julia’s Kitchen and downtown Napa’s N.V. Restaurant and Lounge didn’t make the grade this year.
Many of the local restaurants that received the nod from Bauer are places where we have had the privilege of dining. In fact, a few hold special places in our hearts. Bistro Don Giovanni is where we announced our engagement to our families and where we dined to celebrate the news of becoming parents-to-be. We’re certainly not alone in liking the bistro–my sister thinks their “Bostini” trifle alone is worth the 500+ mile drive up from Los Angeles.
We’ve even had the pleasure of dining at The French Laundry (thanks to very generous co-workers who gave us a gift certificate as a bridal shower present). It was at French Laundry where a very knowledgeable sommelier introduced us to an Italian wine called Barbareso, (2001 Cigliuti Barbaresco Serraboella), which now sits in our wine cellar. We’ll never forget the strong aromas of cranberry that emanated from this wine and so perfectly complemented our food. And we’ve dined with a group of friends at Terra, where we were entertained by the sommelier who insisted on providing us with a blind tasting of three red wines that so well suited our meal.
Sometimes it takes the release of a list like Bauer’s to make us realize how lucky we are to have such unique dining experiences so accessible to us. If you’ve visited any of the eight Napa Valley restaurants on the 2007 list, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the experience.