Tag Archives: Napa restaurant review

Redd Restaurant, Yountville CA

The Spot: Redd, Yountville CA

With all the great restaurants in Northern California’s wine country, it’s hard for visitors to discern which are hype and which are worth the ‘I’m in wine country on vacation so I won’t squawk at the bill’ type of pleasure that all the restaurants here should provide. Thankfully, I found every experience at Redd, and every dish, of the highest quality. It’s among my favorite dining spots in Napa Valley.

Its pristinely simple décor certainly whispers post-modern cool, but Redd’s infused with enough warmth to avoid stuffiness.  Careful, stylish selection of tables, chairs, even silverware, and an occasional eruption of fresh flowers for chlorophyll and color imbue Redd’s refreshingly spartan design.

While I’ve not mused about the etymology of the restaurant’s name, I do admit some warped tendency to picture Redd Foxx. So Redd the restaurant conjures two images: either an old playboy slinging blue phrasings too inappropriate for anything but late-night urban comedy clubs, or an old junk man clutching a heart space beneath the worn flannel plaid shirt between his suspenders, gasping, “Elizabeth! I’m comin’ to join ya, honey!”

We cannot cauterize these odd layers of memory, especially the generations (including me) that have been baptized by the deep-water river of television.  We’re soaked, and our references to culture vulgar. (Are people actually talking to each other about anything on “The Hills?”) But if either of the Foxx pictures were accurately applied to a meal at Redd, it would be the heart clutch and heavenly appeal. Sometimes I glance heavenward after a great meal and give thanks I might stick around for another one with friends, coworkers, or family.  And the meals I’ve had at Redd were that good. Good enough to say, “I could die happy now. Check please.”

Redd, 6480 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

Phone: (707) 944-2222
Website: http://www.reddyountville.com/

Spice-Rubbed Quails (Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, St. Helena CA)

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen – St. Helena CA – Restaurant Review

The Spot: Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, St. Helena CA (Napa Valley)

Cindy\'s Backstreet Kitchen, St. Helena CA

The Vibe: Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen is a really pleasant dining environment, a charming converted home (on a back street) that feels like a Northern California version of a New Orleans restaurant. You enter through a white picket fence and brick courtyard to the door; off to your right is a clever metal gate that’s sculpturally cut like corn stalks. There’s a lovely patio area outside, two rooms and a bar area downstairs in the house, and dining rooms upstairs as well.

The restaurant interior is rustic farmhouse white with black accents, awash in natural light from large windows. It’s got black and white striped fabric booths and black and white wallpaper; both feel like contemporary California interpretations of classic French décor. (Hey, a perfect metaphor for the food. We know Cindy’s smart!) There’s an eclectic (cool) art collection, including some great works in the rooms upstairs (which you can peruse en route to the loo).

Negative points for leaving the barside TVs on during lunch. Ugh. Downer. Send those kids and creeps to a sports bar. Even if the TVs were off, be warned that it can get a bit loud.

Corn Stalk Fence, Cindy\'s Backstreet Kitchen

The Service: We must be honest: it was really, really dreadful. Even on the most languorous day, we don’t want to wait so long for someone to bring bread, for someone to acknowledge us, for them to come back to take our order, and an excruciating wait to get the check.

The painfully slow service is really an issue that Cindy Pawlcyn or her management staff should resolve. Does anyone need a two-hour lunch? Even slow-moving tourists want to get to a vineyard.

The Dish: Spice-rubbed quails. Occasionally, Cindy’s offers another small roasted fowl like squab (commercially raised pigeon) instead of the standard quail dish.

Accompanied by roasted potatoes and a Moroccan pepper salad, it’s a decent amount of food that combines to make a savory, very enjoyable meal. You have to know that small birds do involve getting your hands dirty and gnawing. Like a rat, sort of, if you expect to get all the meat off.

We’d certainly return for a small bird dish or for Cindy’s other meaty temptations (but would pray for more attentive service next time).

Spiced-Rubbed Quail

The Damage: The spice-rubbed quails are $21.95, the top menu price.

The Grade: Very Good (2 out of 5)

The Skinny: Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen
1327 Railroad Avenue, St. Helena, CA
Phone: (707) 963-1200
Owner / Chef: Cindy Pawlcyn
Executive Chef: Pablo Jacinto
Website: http://www.cindysbackstreetkitchen.com/