For our anniversary dinner, Ted and I decided to try something new, rather than our traditional Rivoli dinner. I wanted to go to a place in San Francisco that is supposed to be wonderful, Aquarello, but they’re not open on Sundays, so that was out. Maybe for our 20th anniversary, we’ll go there. Anyway, I remembered reading that Iron Chef Morimoto had opened a restaurant in Napa, so we decided to see if we could get a reservation there. Happily, we were able to get a table, even though it wasn’t until 9:30. So we got dressed up a bit (we were overdressed, the place is pretty casual…but I wanted to dress for our occasion, even if not for the atmosphere) and off we went.
We arrived maybe 1/2 hour early, and thought we would have a drink at the bar, but they had a table ready for us, and the bar was full, so we sat down and began to peruse the menu. As you would expect with a Japanese Chef, the menu is a mixture of sushi and traditional Japanese items. We started with drinks, a glass of Chardonnay (Far Niente, YUM!) for me, a Manhattan for Ted. Then we shared a spicy tuna roll, which was a simple roll of rice and spicy tuna, and was delicious.
For our main course, Ted ordered the Surf and Turf, because it came with a Wagyu beef filet, which is supposed to be amazingly tender and flavorful. He wasn’t sure what the surf portion of his meal was. The beef was very interesting…much more tender and flavorful than anything I had had before, really delicious. It was prepared with a crispy onion flavored crust that complemented the beef very well. We weren’t sure what the surf was…some sort of raw fish or another, but it was good as well. Ted said that though he really enjoyed the beef, he wouldn’t want a whole steak of it, because it was VERY rich.
I ordered the braised black cod, which was braised in a soy-ginger reduction. It wasn’t as delicate as other black cod dishes I’ve had, and tasted fishy. It was delicious, and it tasted like it was supposed to be fishy. Not overpowering. But I think I prefer the more delicate miso black cod I’ve had at other restaurants.
The food wasn’t inexpensive. A $28 piece of cod came with just what you see there. No rice or vegetables. The portions weren’t large, so we were glad that we each ordered a side of vegetables, which helped to fill us up.
Overall, I was a little bit disappointed, though not so much with the food as with the atmosphere and service. The atmosphere is very stark and industrial, leading to an almost deafening room. We had to raise our voices to hear one another, and it was unpleasant to be so overwhelmed by the noise of people laughing, talking, etc. The service was friendly, but not as professional as I would have liked. The busboy asked us if we were finished for the evening after our appetizer. A waiter refilled the water glasses at the table next to us, but not ours. The waitress didn’t know what the mixed vegetables might be. They were friendly, though, and wished us a Happy Anniversary. It was a fun restaurant, just not as good as I wanted it to be, and not necessarily a romantic place. I am glad we went, it was fun to try something new, especially since we used to LOVE watching the original Iron Chef, and Morimoto was our favorite chef. But I doubt we’d go back.
(Ted and I did a ‘he said/she said’ kind of thing, with both of us reviewing the restaurant. His write up is here.)