I haven't settled into a lunch counter solo for months, but I've been to some new places. One day I was driving while hungry as I passed Biscuits in Napa and stopped to give it a try. Yes, the biscuits are light and buttery, but the menu in general is too grease-heavy for my taste. Lunch at Mini Mango with the vegetarian niece was a delight--put enough peanut butter sauce on tofu and it's pretty tasty.
Then there was the happy hour inspiration. Why not write an article for a local magazine about the best places to go for happy hour? I started asking friends for recommendations, checked online and made some phone calls. It required a lot of on-site research--tough, but someone has to do it! Over two months I found great deals at restaurants I already liked and at others I hadn't yet tried.
At BarTerra in St. Helena the duck liver mousse was creamy, almost sweet and served on the thinnest croutons I've ever crunched, but $60 for appetizers and drinks is over the top for me. Most of the other places I tried have half price drinks, coupled with specially priced appetizers at the bar. Starting as early as 3:00, I had weekly outings with friends to sit at the bar for a glass of something refreshing along with some great food. My favorite drink is the ginger mojito at Tarla. I inhaled the fried artichokes and onion rings at Grace's Table. And loved the BBQ at Bounty Hunter. Condensing it all to 500 words was a challenge, and one restaurant closed after I submitted the piece, so I had to go back and revise. Check it all out in the July-August issue of Napa Valley Life.
So, article written, I'm back to thoughts of lunch. I definitely want to sit at the counter at Grace's Table. Chef Mauro was so kind to me during my happy hour there, he put together a special plate of several items for me to taste. I hope he'll be there when I go in for lunch. And who knows, there might just be someone interesting sitting at the counter with me! 'Til then...