Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fine Dining: Kitchen Door

So we could have just gone home. My lovely husband and I ventured out of the house this afternoon, with nothing on the agenda but to see "Moneyball." We show up at the theater however, only to find out that the online listing I consulted had the movie's start time WRONG. (Imagine that - the internet got something wrong!) So we had two hours to spare before the actual start time. Like I said, we could have just gone home.

But no! We started wandering our fair town instead. It's something that we don't do nearly enough, and with Napa really starting to come into its own, wandering is a worthwhile venture.

We decided to grab a bite to eat. With so many new restaurants cropping up in Napa, there are several that I have yet to visit, despite trying my best. There were two places at the top of my list:
  • Eiko's, a new take on Japanese food from Eiko Nakamura of Fujiya - one of the world's best sushi restaurants located in an outlet mall (I kid you not) - although now that Eiko's is open, Fujiya has closed.
  • Kitchen Door, the latest highly-touted restaurant from Chef Todd Humphries (Martini House) in the Oxbow Market that calls its food "an ingredient-driven menu of handmade multi-ethnic comfort food."
Decisions, decisions. But, after strollin up to Eiko's and learning that they're not open for lunch on Sunday, the decision was made for us. Kitchen Door it was.

What we ordered:
  • Padrone peppers. (As I mentioned in a previous post, I can't get enough of these right now. The Kitchen Door version came prepared with lime and Korean chili flakes, and was draped with thin slices of handmade lardo. The peppers were perfectly blistered and tasty - I thought the lardo was completely unnecessary.)
  • Korean Short Ribs with bacon fried rice. (Ran ordered these thinking he was ordering traditional ribs - oops.)
  • Roast Duck Banh Mi Vietnamese-style sandwich with sweet potato fries. (Um - hardly. I ordered this envisioning juicy slices of roast duck amid the pickled veggies and fresh herbs. What I got though was mostly a thick smearing of duck pate on the too-big roll, with a few spare chunks of roast duck wedged in here and there. Not what I envisioned at all, and I won't be ordering it again. The fries however - perfectly executed. They were some of the best sweet potato fries I've tasted, and that's saying something since my favorite version is from Gott's, Kitchen Door's next door neighbor.)
So bottom line? It was fine dining, as Ran called it. Meaning, it was fine. Nothing special. Fantastic atmosphere - we ate on the patio overlooking the river - and some elements of our meal were stellar. But the meal as a whole didn't knock me out. In addition, there were some gaps in service. Our padrones arrived ten minutes after our entrees, for example. I was also greatly annoyed that after ordering at the counter, they give you a number and deliver the food to you (great - love it - no issues there) - but you have to schlep silverware, your awkward order number in its tall holder, water glasses and condiments - all without the aid of a tray. There wasn't a tray to be found to carry all of that stuff, and I was hauling goods for two since Ran was out saving us a prime table. So Kitchen Door - offer up a couple trays, why don't ya?

Anyhow, I'll eat there again for sure. I'll try different menu items, and hope for a better all-over experience. In the meantime though - Eiko's, you're next!

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