Dining Detectives: Brassica – St. Helena
We love our day trips to the Napa Valley, as it always feels like we are on vacation. The ride on the scenic Silverado Trail to visit small production wineries like William Harrison www.whwines.com and enjoy the views of the vineyards is so beautiful year round, rain or shine. The charming towns of Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville and Napa along Highway 29 offer interesting shops and are known for excellent restaurants. We recently had a great lunch in Yountville at the popular Mustards Grill www.MustardsGrill.com and we learned that Restaurateur Cindy Pawlcyn had just opened another restaurant in St. Helena called Brassica. The focus at Brassica is Mediterranean Cuisine made with fresh, local seasonal ingredients, so we knew we’d have to try it!
Brassica has a large open dining room with comfortable well-spaced seating, a large bar area for cocktails and dining and offers outdoor patio dining weather permitting. The décor features large whimsical poster art and windows all around overlooking the lovely Napa Valley as well as a beautiful antique marble topped bar. We ordered Pellegrino Italian Sparkling Water and enjoyed marinated olives, as we reviewed the menu. We noticed that there was an extensive wine list featuring Napa Valley and Mediterranean wines with over 70 Wines by the glass in 2 oz. and 5 oz. pours. You also have the option of purchasing any wine by the Bottle to take home and receive a 25% discount. There is also a unique Wine Tasting opportunity called the Brassica 12 Vintner Splash. On Saturday Nights, a local winemaker walks around the dining room and provides complimentary pours and answer questions about their wines. We enjoyed our taste and chatting with Benjamin Sharp from Capture Wine www.CaptureWines.com who shared his joy making this bright and fruity 2010 “ Tradition” Sauvignon Blanc.
The starters at Brassica’s are a great way to begin and are all also quite reasonably priced. We really enjoyed the wonderful Hummus with Ful which consisted of excellent authentic hummus, Ful made from fava beans, cooked eggs and red onion served with pita bread. The Eggplant Fries were unique and delicious, as they are spiced with thyme and sesame and served with a perfect yoghurt dipping sauce. You must have the Fried Bacon Wrapped Dates which were sweet, rich and amazing! We relaxed for a while, enjoyed our wine then ordered Entrees. We loved the Winemaker Pork made with Greek oregano, garlic, roasted sweet peppers and trahana. The sweetness of the peppers and the tenderness of the pork made this an excellent choice. We also enjoyed the 5 ounce Filet Mignon special which came with asparagus and bacon wrapped leaks. The steak was rare as ordered and the vegetables were delicious.
We sampled a number of the small 2 ounce pours and particularly enjoyed the 2010 Robert Sinskey Los Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Gris, which paired perfectly with our starters and the 2009 Arietta Quartet Napa Valley Cabernet Blend, which paired perfectly with our entrees. Of course, we saved room for dessert. We loved the Strawberry-Rhubarb & Hazelnut Tart served with Vanilla Ice Cream. The flavors of the fruit shined through perfectly and the tart was very light. An espresso was the perfect finish to a most enjoyable dining experience.
Brassica serves all day seven days a week from 11:30 AM until closing. The menu has something for everyone. If you want a light meal you have the option of the wonderful starters, a selection of pizzas, pastas or sandwiches. The wine list is impressive and the service was professional, very personable and there when you wanted them. We look forward to coming back soon with friends for lunch, dinner or just for a glass of wine.
By Carol & Joe Davis
641 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574