We had the good fortune to be able to dine at Redd, an upscale stylish restaurant in Yountville in the heart of Napa Valley and wine country. Actually, it was at the recommendation of our friends, Suma and Tom, that we went. They gave us a generous gift certificate for our wedding last year. It turned out to be one of my favorite gifts, too! Thanks guys!
Since Redd is a bit of a drive from home in San Francisco, Heguiberto and I decided to make a day of it in Napa. We went wine tasting in the early afternoon at Heitz Wine Cellars and then to Louis M. Martini right next door. It was a lot of daytime drinking so afterward, we followed the advice of one of the Martini tasting room staff and headed up to Calistoga to see California’s very own “Old Faithful” geyser. That was fun if a bit of a tourist trap. Aside from the geyser, which was very faithful, by the way; it erupted every 10 to 20 minutes as promised; we also enjoyed the petting zoo of four-horned sheep, goats and llamas. Hegui’s reading a fun book about goats right now, “Goat Song,” so he was particularly enchanted to see the animals in the flesh. After that we still had time to kill so we were off to the outlet mall in Napa City.
The weather was spectacular in Napa Valley that day. It was completely fogged in and cold in SF but a sunny 80 degrees up there. We haven’t been to Napa much recently, spending a lot of time touring Sonoma County wineries like Trentadue and David Coffaro. I’d sort of forgotten how wonderful Napa can really be.
But back to Redd! Our reservation was for 6:30PM on a Tuesday evening in late July. I’d made it on OpenTable a few weeks before. It’s right off highway 29 in Yountville near the Veterans Home. The stretch of town that includes the restaurant was quite charming. There were cute houses all with beautifully manicured lawns and gardens. Across the way was a sexy looking spa and resort. The restaurant itself is elegantly spare both outside and in. It looked like a large contemporary home with a big outdoor seating area surrounded by gardens and a minimalist water fountain. Inside it was all white walls with blond wood around the door and window frames; large white plates and bulbous stemware; white table cloths and modern seating that had been improved with the addition of comfortable cushioning in a tasteful grey color.
We arrived slightly early, starving and tired from our vigorous day shopping, sightseeing and wine tasting. That wasn’t a problem at all and we were seated right away. The dining room was sort of empty when we arrived though within about an hour it almost completely filled up. Many of the guests were from other states, apparently sightseeing there. We could tell from their accents and some of the things that they were talking about. I really noticed the couple from somewhere in the South. They were set just beside our table. They had marvelous accents. The woman liked the special fish dish that Hegui ordered so she got the same. I couldn’t help but notice that they had two rounds of vodka cocktails, ordered a bottle of wine and gave a bottle for corkage to the waiter. Wow! They really are on vacation.
We were a bit more restrained in the drinks department. I tried their ‘Italian Greyhound.’ The drink is something like a Spritx: a blend of Campari, Absolut grapefruit and fresh grapefruit juice served in a highball glass with a slice of lime. I loved the drink and want to serve it at home for our next big party. Hegui ordered a bottle of 2002 Cornerstone Cellars cabernet sauvignon from Howell Mountain. He’s fixated on Howell Mountain wines. It’s in the northwest part of Napa Valley. The wine was quite delicious. It was a dark red color with stone fruit notes, a good body and a long finish. It went really well with our meal.
We started with the stuffed fried squash blossoms with zucchini puree. They were filled with goat cheese and ricotta. We also had the yellowfin tuna tartar with asian pear and fried white rice. Both were amazing. The fish was super fresh and tasted of the ocean. As I already mentioned, Hegui ordered the fish special: skin-on Suzuki (Japanese seabass) that came with two kinds of sauce and fried artichoke hearts. I had the skate served on a bed of green and yellow haricots and potato puree with a hazelnut brown butter. I particularly adored the hazelnuts! They had a yummy bread that we used to dip into all of the different sauces. There were so many tastes exploding in my mouth that it was hard to keep up!
We really splurged and had the cheese course followed by a dessert that we shared. We selected the two goat cheeses (because of the book and the petting farm): cana de cabra, Murcia, Spain and Acappella, Andante dairy, Petaluma; and the Great Hill blue cow’s cheese from Great Hill dairy farm in Marion, Massachusetts. They were served with a bit of honeycomb and some sour cherries. We finished with the sweet corn fritter with vanilla corn ice cream. These looked like small pillows of goodness. They were served warm with a crispy outer shell that opened to a runny creamy sweet corny interior.
The staff was very attentive but not really intrusive. Our waiter was friendly… perhaps too much so. He touched Hegui’s shoulder three separate times. Hegui found that annoying though I don’t think that it would have bothered me particularly. He seemed well meaning enough. The meal was very good. They have an ample and interesting wine list. The atmosphere is spare but very pleasing. It looked how I imagine the Cullen’s living room might in the Twilight novels. Hopefully you’ll check it out yourselves sometime!
Redd is located at 6480 Washington Street – Yountville, CA 94599 – tel 707 944-2222