Friday, July 30, 2010


Hubby took a rare Saturday night off, and we headed up to Napa for a mini-getaway. A concert at the newly-refurbished Uptown Theater (Toad the Wet Sprocket, one of our mutual faves), a night at a lovely B&B, and dinner at Michelin-starred Ubuntu restaurant!

If you've never eaten at Ubuntu, let me tell you, it's quite an experience. The dishes are all around $15-20 each, and they're kind of small, but the restaurant encourages sharing. So you end up ordering 4-6 dishes for two people and sharing everything. And believe me, you WILL want to order that much - the food is amazing. Just put yourself in your server's capable hands and order pretty much anything he/she recommends. It's ALL good.

Our dinner began with an amuse-bouche of compressed watermelon with some powdered something on top and (I think) an avocado mousse underneath. I forgot to get a picture of this, but it was...interesting. Loved the watermelon, but the powder on top (kind of curry-ish?) was a little distracting.

First course:

Dinner at Ubuntu
Traditional steamed buns, stuffed w/ burrata and coated with crunchy corn
‘bianco di maggio’ ONIONS, WILD PLUMS, HONG VIT

(No, I don't know why the description of the dishes on their website seems to be randomly capitalized.) This was delicious, if a wee bit bland. I think it could have used a little more texture. Most of it was very soft and pillowy.

Next up:

Dinner at Ubuntu
SAVORY lemon financier, almond, estrella family ‘unnamed cow’
‘rossa Bianca’ eggplant mosaic, SUCCULENTS, BLACKBERRIES, ras el hanout

This was the very best dish of the night, in my opinion. That cheese was fantastic. If you were to eat just one thing on the plate, then something else, it might seem odd, but when you got a little bit of everything in one bite, it was like heaven. And the greens on each dish were absolutely integral. Make sure you eat the greens!

Dinner at Ubuntu
rustic rancho gordo ‘yellow eye’ bean stew (v)
ROSEMARY, CHILI, smoked ‘red russian’ KALE

This was a delicious cassoulet-like stew. It doesn't photograph well, but there were some crunchy crouton-type things on the top and it offered an excellent textural counterpoint to the smoky bean stew (seriously, how did they get that flavor without bacon??).

Dinner at Ubuntu
‘riverdog farms’ potatoes, CUCUMBERS, roasted/raw/emulsion/ash
“ticklish” CUCUMBER, horseradish, FICOIDE GLACIALE

Ash? Yeah, that's what I thought too. But this didn't taste ashy at all - it was very fresh and delicious. Those light green things are the little cucumbers. The glaciale was a succulent plant that had purple, ruffly edges and looked almost as if it had been crystallized. It was crisp and fresh and yummy.

Our final dish was:

charred ‘purplette’ ONIONS and TOP condimento, brioche, burnt with love
roast ‘turkey’ FIGS, their pulp, crudo and kimchi, garnet ‘AMARANTH’

I'm so sorry I forgot to take a picture of this one, but it was scrumptious. I'm not usually a fig person, but hubby is, and the server highly recommended it, so I was willing to give it a try. I'm so glad I did, because the savory-sweet-salty balance was perfect.

Overall, it was an amazing dinner, and I'm so glad that we were able to have that experience. I'd highly recommend it to anyone - vegetarian or meat eaters.