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harvey steiman at large

Go Fish Hooks a New Chef After Only Six Weeks

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Oct 30, 2006 4:02pm ET

Go Fish, the Napa Valley seafood restaurant that opened only last month, picked up an ace when it hired chef Victor Scargle to take over the kitchen. The chef since 2003 at Julia's Kitchen, the restaurant at Copia in Napa, Scargle starts the week after Thanksgiving.

Go Fish is the valley's first serious seafood restaurant, the brainchild of Cindy Pawlcyn, whose restaurants Mustards, outside Yountville, and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, in St. Helena, are longtime local favorites. She and business partner Sean Knight modernized the former Pinot Blanc and installed sushi chef Ken Tominaga, who made his name with his own restaurant in Santa Rosa, to preside over a 16-seat sushi bar. Scargle will be executive chef.

On my visit to the restaurant recently, the sushi bar clearly outshone the food coming from the kitchen, a sentiment expressed by several others I spoke with. The menu is full of mouthwatering ideas, however, and if the execution of the cooked food catches up with them, Go Fish should be a hit. Enter Scargle, nervously watching developments at Copia. The wine-and-culture center is facing a massive $68 million deficit.

Knight approached Scargle when the chef was having dinner at Go Fish. "I asked him how it was going at Copia," said Knight, who had asked Scargle to recommend the original chef, "and he said he was nervous. So I said, let's talk."

Scargle made a point to note that he didn't expect the reorganization under way at Copia to affect the restaurant there, one of the few bright spots in the center's public image. "But a lot of the people I work with in the building are walking around looking shell-shocked," he added.

Jeff Mosher, the sous chef at Julia's Kitchen, will get the promotion to chef, Scargle said.

Scargle earned raves for his food at Julia's Kitchen, which has the luxury of using what the center's demonstration garden produces. In my review of Julia's Kitchen in 2004, I wrote, "Scargle loves to riff on the produce coming out of [the] garden, assembling salads that zing with vitality, garnishing and completing dishes with pitch-perfect seasonal flavors."

Significantly, two of the three dishes mentioned used seafood. "I love cooking fish," Scargle said. "This is perfect for me. And Cindy has room for a garden twice as big as the one I had at Copia."

Glenn S Lucash
October 30, 2006 6:04pm ET
We had a marvelous dinner this past August at Copia. Chef Scargle also spoke to us after the meal for a few minutes and actually had us relay a few kind words to his friend Brian Fallon the general manager at Michael Mina when we dined there a few nights later. Brian raved about Chef Scargle and his inspired food. We concur.Bravo for Go Fish. We'll be "Go-ing Fish-ing" when we're in Napa next spring for sure.
Apj Powers
Dallas, TX —  November 2, 2006 2:10am ET
Perhaps this will show my immense ignorance, but what is Copia? I think that is a big part of their problem. I read all kinds of wine magazines and travel to wine regions fairly regularly. I even stayed close to the town of Napa one yr but never visited Copia(probably my loss) because I wasn't sure what it was. I didn't want to waste precious hrs when their were so many wineries to visit. Is it for wine studies, a culinary school, a restaurant, museum??
Apj Powers
Dallas, TX —  November 2, 2006 2:13am ET
Although I did not see any comments on the AU frost blog, I do appreciate that kind of insider insight.
Apj Powers
Dallas, TX —  November 2, 2006 2:16am ET
I love stopping into Mustards and dining at the bar. It's great, comfortable, friendly service, reasonable prices and a happening place. Pawlcyn seems to have a good rep in Napa. I look forward to checking out her other spots.
Harvey Steiman
San Francisco, CA —  November 2, 2006 12:38pm ET
Well, Apj's question about what exactly Copia is goes to the heart of its problems. Robert Mondavi envisioned it as a place where wine, food and the arts could come together under one roof. It has a museum with art influenced by food and wine, a small theater for dramatic and musical performance, a wine bar, a restaurant and demonstration food gardens. Try summing that up into a catch phrase, and you understand why the idea has foundered. Much of what the organization has done has been of high quality. It just hasn't caught on.

Copia was a good idea, and I would hate to see it disappear. It's bleeding money. The board is pinning its hopes on development of independent food-oriented shopping, restaurants and hotels next door, which will get more people around the neighborhood.

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