Monday, March 5, 2012


Tarla Mediterranean Grill is a tasty addition to dining in downtown Napa and my new favorite restaurant. When I first saw the menu online, I knew it would be hard to choose between the offerings. Flaming cheese, mussels stuffed with rice, currants and pine nuts. Then I saw Musakka and knew I would have to try Tarla's version of my favorite middle eastern dish.

The counter is a great place to sit in Tarla to watch the precision grill team at work. While waiting for my Musakka, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the four focused men move swiftly and silently around each other in a small space. One mixed greens with salt and dressing and with a flourish, scooped them onto a waiting plate. Another cook scraped thin slices of beef off the hunk on the rotisserie and piled it onto huge pieces of crisped pita; he then topped those with dressed greens and added some fries to each plate. That's the Beef Doner--it's on my list for a future visit.

Many diners that day were lunching on the $12 specials--a skewer of chicken, lamb or beef accompanied by greens and a cup of butternut squash soup. Such a delicious deal! While waiting for my lunch, I was presented with a bread basket and some fragrant olive oil with bits of pink olive. The bread, which they told me is called "Turkish bun" is an egg-based, buttery bread something like challah. Let's just say it would melt in your mouth even without the delicious olive oil to dip it in. I shamefully admit to eating all but one piece.

My Musakka took a while, which told me they were not just nuking it, but actually baking it in an oven. It came with a crispy browned top of bechemal sauce, layers of beef, lamb, thin sliced potato and eggplant, and some dabs of a tomato puree so light and sweet-tart, they must have just made it. The best thing about a great Musakka is the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. This was top notch.

I did  not have dessert, but would like to try the apricot and Chardonnay sorbet. Tarla serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. You can have various egg dishes, Greek yogurt, spanakopita or a bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers and onions. I'd also like to go back for Happy Hour, which starts at 3:00 p.m. and features a long list of appetizers including the stuffed mussels and flaming cheese, along with wine and cocktails at $5 a glass. Ginger mojito anyone?

<a href=""><img alt="Tarla Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;width:104px;height:34px" /></a>

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