We enjoyed our holiday luncheon yesterday at Ubuntu on Main Street in downtown Napa. It’s one of the new hot dining spots in Napa, a two-for-one vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio. Don’t ask me why the combination, but it’s there nonetheless, so you can watch stretching classes upstairs through translucent glass in the mezzanine while you eat.
I haven’t taken any classes at Ubuntu (which is an African term for spreading humanity to others), but the food is diverse and creative and the ambience and vibe are warm and exciting. MaryAnn Worobiec had her trusty video camera on hand and gives you a quick look at the sturdy rock-walled interior and spacious dining area. We were there for a late lunch and the room was nearly vacant. But don’t let that fool you. Most times it’s full and for good reason. The food is great.
We ordered one serving of everything on the menu (except for dessert) for the five of us and brought a couple of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noirs to wash down the food, a 2004 Patz & Hall Pisoni and 2005 Kosta Browne Garys’ Vineyard. Both wines showed exactly as they had when reviewed, fresh and fruity, only a bit softer and fleshier.
Since chef Jeremy Fox’s menu changes daily it seems, and certainly seasonally, you may not find what we did. Our favorite among the starters was the artichoke salad with celery salsa verde ($9), which edged the crunchy fennel, endive and honey-crisp apple salad. The garden broccoli soup a la Catalan, marinated beet and avocado salad and savory fruit salad, dotted with pomegranate seeds, were also excellent.
The winner of the entrée sweepstakes was the cauliflower in a cast-iron pot, edging the Anson Mills speckled grits hickory smoked, and in the pizza face-off, the wild nettle nipped the mushroom version.
The dessert, vanilla bean “cheesecake” in a jar, was delicious as well.
Also nearby are several other spots I’d recommend: Next door to Ubuntu is Annalien, a Asian restaurant, and Cole’s Chop House, a steak house.
If you’ve never dined in Napa, you’d be impressed by how many great restaurants there are. And if you’ve been to Napa but haven’t visited recently, you’ll be surprised by the many culinary options.
Sussanah Nolan — Brooklyn, NY — December 13, 2007 9:49am ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — December 13, 2007 12:27pm ET
Maryann Worobiec — Napa, CA — December 13, 2007 1:17pm ET
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