Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen is appropriately located on a street back off the main drag in St. Helena at 1327 Railroad Ave. Award-winning cookbook author and chef and owner of Mustards Grill, Cindy Pawlcyn opened Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen aiming to make the food “delicious and heartfelt”, the service “unpretentious and warm”, and the atmosphere “festive and comfortable”.
While half of us had previously been to the restaurant, we decided to stop by for lunch on a recent Friday afternoon to put it to the test. Read on for our full review.
The dining room: Upon walking up the brick walkway and past a small set of outdoor seating, we entered the restaurant and were greeted by a friendly hostess. We were immediately struck by the light and airy feel of the dining room, with white table linens, white walls and ceiling and blue and white striped booth seating areas. Immediately to our right was an amazing looking zinc bar, lined with dark colored wooden bar chairs that looked quite inviting.
Around the bar we followed the hostess before being seated at a table right near the entrance to another part of the dining room. We immediately noticed the daily specials written in black on a large mirror and a massive display of fresh flowers in front of another large mirror to our left. The dark colored overhead ceiling fans contrasted with the whites of the room and gave a somewhat southern feel.
The service: Our waiter and the supporting staff were extremely friendly, helpful and attentive. We must have been slightly ahead the typical Friday lunch-rush so things weren’t exactly bustling, but we had just the right level of service. Upon being seated we were immediately given fresh baked bread and butter and offered our choice of sparkling or tap water.
The food: Given Ms. Pawlcyn’s track record, we were quite excited to explore the menu and pick out a few things to try.
After perusing for a few minutes, we elected to start with the “Backstreet Fry” ($9.75), which is made of of crispy calamari, red onion, pasilla chiles and asparagus and comes with a jalepeno-cilantro aioli sauce for dipping. This appetizer was surprisingly light considering it’s battered and fried and the jalepeno-cilantro dipping sauce was refreshing on the palate.
Cindy’s Curried Chicken Salad ($13.75) comes on a bed of mixed greens, arugula and radishes and is topped with crispy bacon. The savory salad had a mild overall spice to it, but nothing too overwhelming. The large portions of chicken and bacon made this entree more than enough to fill up our belly.
The Grilled Chicken BLT ($10.75) is stacked high with avocado and a blue cheese mayonnaise and comes with fries. Served on a large roll, we had a tough time getting our mouth around this massive sandwich, but when we did, we were certainly not disappointed. The proportions of the bacon, lettuce, tomato and blue cheese mayonnaise were just right, with no ingredient overpowering another and we found the chicken to be lean and cooked just right.
Between the appetizer and the hearty entrees, we sadly had no room for dessert. But that didn’t stop us from checking out the menu! Had we taken the plunge, we quickly agreed we would have opted for the “Campfire Pie” ($7.00), which is made up of toasted marshmallow fluff, fudgy chocolate, almond ding and Oreo cookie crust.
The Cork Board Rating: 4 corks (out of a possible 5). Overall, a warm and welcoming dining room, very approachable menu and friendly staff make Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen an easy addition to our ‘will return’ list. If you’re looking for good food and an unpretentious overall vibe in the heat of the Napa Valley, this is a solid option.
Been to Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen recently? If so, let us know what you thought–and be sure to read our previous restaurant reviews while you’re at it.