Tea-Smoked Peking Duck, Pork Chop, Vanilla-Bourbon Crème Brûlée
Occupation: Retired Art Teacher
Favorite Restaurant: Mustards Grill
Reviewed Mustards Grill: Sunday, November 16, 2008
Mustards Grill is located just north of the town of Yountville and has been in business for over 20 years , which says something about the quality of its food. It is owned and operated by Cindy Pawlcyn,who has been involved with several Bay Area restaurants including, Fog City Dinner in San Francsico.the Rio Grill,The Buckeye Road House in San Rafael, and two restaurants in St Helena, Go Fish and Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen. She has a great cookbook that was nominated by the James Beard Foundation, for cookbook of the year.
I have always felt that the quality of the food is excellent, along with the service, and the size of the portions. It is an open room so there can be some noise level issues, but at the same time there is a certain entertainment value to having both locals and tourists in the same room. The main course that I always tend to order is the Peking smoked duck, which has a wonderful dark crispy skin and rich moist meat that stands up very well to red wines. When it is brought to your table it arrives with a great smoky aroma from there wood smoker. The starter courses, that I shared with my wife, were very ample for both of us and I especially enjoyed the calamara that is set on a bed of coleslaw, and could be ordered as a salad.
In my opinion Mustards Grill takes American cuisine and adds a unique creative touch, I don”t think there is anything that they prepare that is not good. If you have any question about the menu the wait staff can answer them for you, including incredients and preparation.
I strongly recommend Mustards to anyone, there is ample parking and it is in a great location if you are traveling up the Napa Valley, but I do recommend reservations on the weekends, other wise you may have a long wait and there is not a lot of space in the bar area.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Gialina
Reviewed Mustards Grill: Sunday, December 7, 2008
It was a pleasure to eat at this restaurant in this idyllic wine country setting, which I’ve driven by many times but never eaten at. Due to its proximity to Brix, I often get them confused. But despite its laid back feeling, and what I would describe as bland décor, the cuisine was interesting and well executed. I have to admit, I was charmed by its description of its food as classy truck stop fare, as well as its binder (not menu) of wines which was labeled as “Way Too Many Wines.”
Although intrigued by both the smell of grilled meats and the selection of grilled and pan-fried options, the Asian cuisine options seemed a little out of place. I don’t think of asian noodle salads when I think of a truck stop. I appreciated the idea of grilling quail with chipotle sauce and the Mongolian pork chop, but the Vietnamese lettuce wraps came out of nowhere. It seemed the chef was trying to marry Asian techniques with more classic barbecue, which I don’t object to, but since my wife is Vietnamese and is kind of stickler for authentic cuisine, I can tell you the lettuce wraps were not an option. So I started with the special salad of Sierra Beauty apples with mixed greens and goat cheese. The first thing that surprised me was its size. My wife ordered the garden greens salad, and it was literally a mound of lettuce and herbs packed onto the plate, lightly dressed with a few added nuts. My salad was also enormous, but the greens were fresh and tasty. I did feel it was a little too lightly dressed, maybe because they utilized all of their oil/vinegar earlier in the evening due to its mammoth salad servings. The salad could have also used a little more acid. The apples were also a little tart and overlapped with the flavor of the goat cheese, and perhaps a sweeter fruit would have contributed more. There was also a mixed selection of nuts in the salad (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pistachios, I believe), which I found strange, and would have preferred that the chef choose a single nut. It took some of the focus away from the fresh produce.
For the main course, I chose that chipotle quail with greens and matchsticks potatoes. Though intrigued by the pork chop and hanger steak, I’m a sucker for game birds and can never so no when I see them on the menu. This was a wonderful dish, as the quail was perfectly grilled to medium/medium-rare, and the sauce gave it a unique flavor, which also went perfectly with my chosen wine. Given the inherent difficulty in removing all of the meat from the bones, they were also kind enough to provide a wet nap so I could hose down after inhaling the quail. My wife ordered the hanger steak with sweet onion jam and French fries, which was also perfectly prepared and seasoned, with the sauce adding an extra element to elevate it above simple steak frites.
When entering the restaurant, the specials are easily visible on a large chalkboard above the kitchen, and my wife immediately noted the egg nog bread pudding for dessert. Sadly, by the time we ordered, it was no longer available. Disappointed, she instead chose the famous lemon-lime tart with ridiculously tall brown sugar meringue, while I ordered the classic crème brulee. The tart slice had, as described, a very tall meringue topping peaked about 6-8 inches from the plate. Equally surprising, my crème brulee came in a small ramekin, making it one of the the smaller ones I’ve ever received in a restaurant. I suppose that combined the two desserts averaged out to standard size. But I’ll start by describing my brulee. While small, it certainly packed a wallop, with a rich, creamy, vanilla bourbon flavor that was exceptionally well made. If anything, it was so heavy as to be a little too large. I would say that it was the best crème brulee I’ve ever eaten. Regarding the tart, the meringue topping was so large that it was difficult to access the actual lemon-lime tart portion. We ended up having to plop it on its side. The tart was quite good, though a little on the sweet side. The meringue was too much, both in size and sweetness, and I would have preferred a straight tart.
The service at Mustard’s was excellent. The waitress was knowledgeable and attentive without being overbearing, and the food came out fairly quickly. I was also impressed with the selections of wine by the glass. While my wife and I enjoy drinking wine with dinner, we are incapable of drinking large volumes, so we usually end up ordering wine by the glass. A pet peeve of mine, which occurs fairly frequently in the Bay Area, is that a restaurant has a huge selection of wines by the bottle, but then just has a handful of wines by the glass. Mustard’s had a nice selection of both half bottles and wines by the glass, so we could pick wines that went well with our chosen courses. Overall, I would recommend this restaurant to friends and would revisit it if given the chance.
Occupation: Mother and Paralegal
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: The Old Clam House
Reviewed Mustards Grill: Saturday, November 22, 2008
The drive to Yountville was very long and dark. We picked up our dinner companions in Oakland and drove up to 37, through American Canyon to Yountville. It’s a very long drive for dinner. Once at the restaurant, we waited in the bar for about 20 minutes. Our reservation was for 7, and we were seated at 7:15. The bar was nice and relaxing and the bar tender was friendly. However three cocktails and one glass of wine came to $60.00. A bit pricey for the bar drinks. (martini, gin & tonic, vodka/grapefruit and a glass of Pozzan Zin).
We were taken to our table by a friendly hostess and our server arrived almost immediately. Our server, Crystal, made our night. She was very accommodating to our vegan dining companions. However, when reservations were made, I specifically told the person taking the reservation that there would be two vegans in our party and they said no problem. However, our server had no idea when we were seated. This was not a big deal at all. She spoke with the kitchen and our friends both had a lovely pasta dinner with fresh vegetables and lots of garlic. It was delicious. We started the meal with onion rings. The onion rings come to your table piled high. Very thinly sliced. Great presentation but by the time you get to the middle they are cooling off and not nearly as good. The garden salad was so-so. Overdressed and limp. The Ahi Tuna appetizer was fantastic, however. Fresh and very generous in size.
The Seafood Tostada was tasty but nothing to write home about. Same with the pork chop dish. The pork chop was also generous in size, but the mashed potatoes and the sweet and sour cabbage were mediocre. The cabbage was more sour than sweet. By the end of the meal, we decided to skip dessert as we were too full.
Mustards Grill does serve large portions which would be great after a day of wine tasting. I would not specifically go there again from San Francisco just to have dinner or lunch. I may stop in again in the future after wine tasting. I would not refer my friends- The food just wasn’t that great for the price. However, the staff was wonderful. We had a really nice time talking with the staff and the couple next to us where are retired locals. It was a nice evening and I don’t regret making the trip.