Napa Valley Grill, Westwood, Los AngelesFebruary 24 2010 at 7:49 AM
|ThomasM (no login)|
It's been awhile since I've been to NVG. ThePuristS has held several successful events there (which see) and the food was always dependable (if sometimes a bit pedestrian) and the wine list is usually interesting, as befits the name of the establishment.
The dining room is comfortable - spacious, airey with a warm but not too overdone design.
Well, after the last meal, I can't wait to go back.
I'm an unabashed carnivore (I am trying to cut back and portion control is my new watchword) and whenever I see "32 oz prime wet aged bone in Ribeye" I get all weak in the knees.
The current menu at Napa Valley Grill ranges interestingly from shellfish and seafood to grilled meats.
We started with the mussels and clams in curry white wine sauce - not at all overpowering, and the shellfish were cooked just right (just slightly overcooked for my preference, but well within the range of just right) and a mushroom risotto. The arborio rice was dry and a few grains were undercooked. Some might argue that this is the proper way to prepare risotto, but I do like all the grains to be cooked, rather than some still hard as a rock.
So overall, the opening dishes were very good and just okay...but the wine (Ridge Zinfandel) was excellent, properly served (it is hard to believe how hard it is to find servers who can properly pour from the bottle without slopping the wine from bottle to glass, or having it drip down the side of the bottle...) and really took the edge off the imperfections of the appetizer courses.
The entrees (with sides) - now that is another story entirely.
Thick cut rack of lamb - only three bones on the plate, but each attached to some incredibly tender thick cut culottes of meat. The flavour was incredible, the texture just perfect for a hard core carnivore, and the bouquet...among the best I've had anywhere.
The braised short rib was also far above what I'm used to putting up with. All too often, in obeisance to the fitness mantra, short ribs are served far too lean, with the fat either trimmed too close or braised too long and fat burned out completely so that the finished dish is tough and stringy, bordering on wet jerky.
This was meltingly tender, with just enough fat to give it flavour and moisture, without coating one's mouth in that greasy, oily feeling.
And again, the aroma...as both dishes came to the table, even as the waiter approached, our olfactory senses were nearing ecstacy...
The Ridge Zinfandel (I forget the vintage or vineyard) was broad, complex, not spicey at all, with a slightly sweet, jammy streak throughout. It paired very well with every dish, every course.
All in all, a very pleasant surprise and I plan to revisit.
In fact, the meats were so good, I had to ask about the chef, as I know there is a tendency for the kitchen to change management and personnel, at least in my experience with the restaurant a few years ago when I frequented it more regularly.
I found out the executive chef came from Nic and Stephs, Joachim Splichal's chop house in downtown LA.
Judging from the full house at 8:30p, it seems I wasn't alone in feeling the restaurant is worthy as a destination dining room again, and not just a convenient neighborhood place to eat.