Weekend in Wine Country: 2 Days in Napa + Sonoma via St. Francis Winery, Redd, Mustards Grill + More

Welcome to Napa sign blogWhen you tell your foodie friends you’re spending a weekend in California’s Wine Country, you’re going to get countless suggestions for wining and dining your way around the area – and with good reason. There are almost 200 restaurants alone in the area on OpenTable and more than 400 wineries. Unless you’re a local, there’s no way to tackle them all even in a year (or 10!), let alone a couple of days. But, the good news is that it’s really hard to take a wrong turn. This was my stealthy and delicious agenda in Napa and Sonoma earlier this month.

FRIDAY

Cakebread-blog

1PM: Cakebread Cellars
One of our very helpful Uber drivers cautioned us that the Napa winery scene was becoming quite corporate, with many requiring appointments. Having gone the non-appointment route several years back, I preferred the intimacy of scheduled tastings, particularly at Cakebread Cellars. For $40 per person, we opted for the Reserve tasting, which included a private tour of the winery’s operations and a very gently paced, thoughtful tasting in a grand room overlooking the vineyard, where we sipped wines that we’d never sampled, despite being longtime Cakebread fans.

Gott's3PM: Gott’s Roadside (FKA Taylor’s Refresher)
My last visit to Gott’s was a bust as the Saturday lines were obscenely long, but this time out, the weekday timing played to our favor. At this local classic, we were eating juicy cheeseburgers and sharing crispy fries with each other (and a few brave birds) within a few minutes of parking. Bonus for my fellow gluten-free diners: You can get any burger animal-style, wrapped in lettuce, and it’s still supremely satisfying.

Redd blog9PM: Redd
Chef Richard Reddington’s Redd remains as fresh as when its doors first opened in 2005. The restaurant is warm and elegant all at once, as is the food. The little gem salad was the best my husband ever had (which is quite a statement, as he’s not a salad lover). Other standouts include the generously portioned foie gras trio, caramelized diver scallops, skate wing, and petrale sole. The wine list is deep yet accessible, and, despite being surrounded by California Chardonnay, we opted for a French Bourgogne. Tip: Be sure to arrive early and grab a signature craft cocktail at the stylish bar.

SATURDAY

St Frances Duck1PM: St. Francis Winery & Vineyard
The food and wine pairing experience at St. Francis is apparently the best kept secret in Sonoma, shocking considering that it has the distinction of being an OpenTable Top 100 Restaurant in America for two years running, earning the #1 spot in 2013 and the #5 spot in 2014. At $60 for five seasonal courses and generous pours of carefully paired wines, plus a cheese selection, I understood why one reviewer called it “The French Laundry for $60.” And, yet, many folks we encountered in our travels weren’t aware of it. So, here it is; I’m blowing the lid off: the pairings are a sublime steal.Continue Reading

Father’s Day Restaurant Deals: 2015 Splurges + Steals

Lobster Benny EssexFather’s Day 2015 is June 21, and restaurants are preparing to roll out the red carpet for dads everywhere. We’ve gathered Father’s Day dining deals to find the perfect place to celebrate, from splurges to steals — and something in between. Get inspired and book your reservations today.

ATLANTA

A bit more: Fogo de Chao awaits with 16 cuts of delectable fire-roasted meats and award-winning wine for $51.50.
A bit less: At Dantanna’s Downtown, dads eat free on Father’s Day! Purchase any menu item at regular price to receive a complimentary item of equal or lesser value.
A bit different: At 10th & Piedmont, dad can dine out and have his seared meats, too, at their “Meat Lover’s Cook Out” on a street-side grill featuring flank steak, Sweetwater barbecue chicken, sausages, barbecued pork, and more.

BOSTON

A bit more: Café Fleuri is ready to treat dad like a king with a $72 per adult (including one free mimosa) meal. It’s $40 per child 5-12 years old.
A bit less: Roberto’s Restaurant wants to show dad how much you love and appreciate him with half-price on his entree on Father’s Day.
A bit different: DeWolf Tavern is hosting a Bristol oyster festival, from 11AM to 4PM, featuring local food and beverage vendors and a fun silent auction.

CHICAGO

A bit more: North Pond invites you to celebrate the dad in your life with a special three-course brunch for $45 per person and $20 per child.
A bit less: May St. Steakhouse has a delicious brunch buffet for just $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids.
A bit different: Club Lucky is offering a $25 gift certificate (good on your next visit) to every dad in honor of the restaurant’s 25th anniversary.

LOS ANGELES

A bit more: The Hobbit offers a six-course, prix-fixe menu at $92 per person at 7PM. If dad’s an oenophile, bring in a bottle of wine, and they’ll waive the first corkage fee.
A bit less: Grand Café @ Omni Los Angeles features executive chef Simon Warren’s “BBQ Brunch Buffet” with “everything for everyone” at just $39 for adults and $20 for kids.
A bit different: At Perch LA, you and dad can float above the Los Angeles skyline while overlooking Pershing Square and enjoying live jazz performances!

NEW YORK

A bit more: Le Cirque invites you to celebrate your dad in classic New York style with a lavish three-course Father’s Day brunch for $65 per person and $35 for kids.
A bit less: Eric’s Italian Bistro is your way to save on steak. Choose from a $15 filet mignon, rib eye, or skirt steak for dad – and pair it with a perfectly poured draft beer at 50% off.
A bit different: Essex is serving up extra-manly cocktails, including bacon bloody Mortys and beer manmosas at their regular brunch, which includes lobster Benedict (pictured).

PHILADELPHIAContinue Reading

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen 2015: Three Things to Do Ahead of the #FWClassic

MG_  007The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is happening June 19-21, 2015. Tickets are sold out, but if you’re headed there (as we are!), we’ve rounded up three things to do ahead of the #FWClassic before you arrive in Aspen. 

Plan to shop like a local foodie. The Aspen Saturday Market will be open for business on Saturday, June 20th. Carve out some open space in your pre-Classic calendar to sample Aspen’s locally grown and made food. The market runs from 8AM-3PM, from the corner of Galena and Hopkins, to Hunter and then again back to the intersection of Hyman and Galena.

Register to run a footrace. Before you start sampling all the fine food and wine that abounds at this unique festival, lace up your trainers and run a 5K to raise money for charity. On Friday morning, June 19th, you’ll scramble through the streets with culinary luminaries including race hosts and Top Chef alums Richard Blais and Stefanie Izard along with Tim Love, and Marcus Samuelsson. Remember the altitude difference when you’re training — Aspen is just under 8,000 feet above sea level.

Make a reservation. At the end of the day, you may wish to sit for a proper meal before making your way to one of the many parties that happen after hours at the festival. Plan ahead and book your tables now or look out for the OpenTable team in the Grand Tasting tents. We can help you make free, last-minute reservations in and around Aspen.Continue Reading

Lunch Break: Meet OpenTable Employee Jack Wall

Lunch Break is back with OpenTable employee Jack Wall in Nashville, Tennessee. Jack helps restaurants with software solutions — and much more — in his role with OpenTable. He’ll never eat an albatross, his last best meal was at Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina-Upstairs, and he once dined thisclose to 1990s action star Steven Seagal. Read on for more of Jack’s dining + food tips. 

Lunchbreak-JackWallContinue Reading