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Martini House


Brad S
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I had the pleasure of studying with Todd Humphries while he was the Chef at Napa's Greystone restaurant (In the CIA)

I recently read Todd was opening his own place (Martini something or other?)

has anyone gone yet?

I think Chef Humphries is a diamond in the rough.

The first time I ate his food was when he was sous chef at Lespinasse under Gray Kunz,Then went west to take over Campton place from Ogdon.

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

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Yes is was very good, and I'd like to go back. I think it could be excellent. They have what may be the best wine list I've seen from my perspective. While there are deeper lists of collector wines, this one has the best selection of under $70 interesting wines I've seen.

They are also very friendly to BYO (it's very common in Napa). I sent Todd a glass of one of my pet wines, and he came out to thank me, chat with me and cooked me an appetizer off the menu to go with my wine.

beachfan

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Thanks for the post Beachfan.

Great story,I found Todd to be one of the most down to earth people i've had the pleasure of meeting

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

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  • 6 months later...

A rowdy group of 7 headed for a Friday night dinner at Martini House in St. Helena...in the crew, two winery owners, a winemaker and a Master Sommelier (and then us regular folk :biggrin: ). Martini House is a two level restaurant owned by Pat Kuleto with Todd Humphries guiding the kitchen. Upstairs is the main dining room dominated by the exhibition kitchen, huge beams covered with faux "burning" candles, a large fireplace and various American Indian inspired decor. A very warm, comfortable place to enjoy a meal. Downstairs, the bar, another fireplace and more seating.

We began our evening downstairs, waiting for our table to be ready. Our reservation was for 7:30, we were sested at 8:15...kudos to the bartender for keeping our glasses full and digging out a huge bowl of wasabi peas for those of us who were starving...I enjoyed a glass of Schramsberg sparkling.

Of course, with all the wine folk at the table there was some wine consumed...our first bottle was a gift from an Oregon wine person at another table who wanted us to try something he enjoyed-2000 Chehalem Reserve Pinot Noir...it was a nice gesture...but, most of the wine went undrunk (is that a word?).

Amuse: Smoked salmon vichyssoise--a lovely creamy smoked salmon essence based soup

We each ordered and there was a lot of sharing of items around the table.

Wine: 1998 Crocker & Starr Stone place Cuvee (blend of merlot, cab. sauv. & cab franc)

First Course: Pan Seared Veal Sweetbreads-creamed nettles, and sauteed yellow foot and hedge hog mushrooms-- A great match with the wine...perfectly brown and crispy n the outside, pink and moist on the inside sweetbreads placed atop the creamed nettles (think a corss between spinach and seaweed) with very gently sauteed mushrooms.

I also enjoyed tastes of Ahi Tuna Tartare "Au Classique" with tarragon mustard vinaigrette, brioche croutons and capers...perfectly balanced flavors, not too sweet and the egg was "farm fresh". And sauteed Foie with roasted black Arkansas apple, opland cress and apple balsamic reduction...also perfectly cooked...crisp on the outside and pink and gelatinous on the inside.

Second course: Red and White Endive Salad with Candied Walnuts, Gorganzola, Cider Vinaigrette and pears...a stack of alternate layers of red and white endive lightly dressed, surrounded by thinly sliced pears and dots of gorganzola and candied walnuts...very nice, even for someone who isn't much for salads.

Wines: Gemstone Vineyard 1997 & 1999 (blends of Cab. Sauv., Merlot, Cab. Franc and Petit Verdot)...and a bottle of 1961 Mouton Rothschild, which much to the chagrin of the winery owner who brought it, was corked...

Third Course: Sauteed Squab Breast and Leg Confit, braised cabbage, pumpkin raviolis, and spiced beurre rouge...another excellent match with the wines. A huge, plump sqaub breast prepared just as requested...to the rare side of medium rare. Lovely golden brown crispy skin...placed atop the braised cabbage and accompanied by three very large al dente pumpkin ravioli...the confit leg was "falling off the bone" :wub: .

I aslo tasted the Braised Beef Bourguignon with potato puree, sauce bordelaise, and winter vegetables. Another perfectly prepared dish...the beef was so tender it literally melted in my mouth. A perfect foil for the wine.

Dessert: S'More- Graham Cracker, Chocolate Ganache, and Marshmallow Ice Cream- I was the only person who ordered dessert...I got one bite...definitely the adult version of a S'More...a homemade graham cracker formed the base. Topped with an incredibly rich chocolate ganache. Atop that was a scoop of marshmallow ice cream...a marshmallow fluffish ice cream...once it left my possession I knew I wouldn't see it again :sad: ...

Another great meal with excellent wines and great friends...

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That would be true Cabrales...I have dined at many of the restaurants I post about more than once...so, I am usually familiar enough with their styles (and variations of their dishes) that I can navigate the menu to ensure I have a pleasurable experience. If I have not dined there, I do my "homework" and research on the prospective restaurant and chef. In the case where I put myself in the chef's hands (so to speak), many are well aware of my likes and dislikes...and also the fact that I am more than willing to be a "guinea pig", others are just thrilled to have someone who doesn't limit them in any way (other than my allergy to caviar)...and some just recognize that I have a strong passion for food and wine. On other occasions...I have been lucky enough to dine with people who are well known in the food and wine industry. Or those who are well appreciated patrons of restaurants who, when they know I am going to "one of their favorites" (without them), will let the restaurant know there is a hedonist in their midst :biggrin: ! I also think the fact that I was in the restaurant business helps at times. Believe my though when I say I have my share of less than stellar meals..one this past Sunday at the Wappo Bar and Grill in Calistoga....which I will post about later.

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southern girl -

thanks for an exceptionally interesting and informative post. It sounds like you had a great meal.

may I ask your thoughts on the Chehalem? Was it "not drinkable" or just not appropriate to the context of food ordered?

thanks

paul

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Yes...I owned a fine dining restaurant (we were a southern mix of the original Spago, Citrus, Suqare One and assorted other So. and No. CA restaurants-we spent about 6 months dining around-good for ideas, bad for the waistline :wink: ) in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL in the late '80's...I also produced the desserts (I was self taught and then learned more under a pastry chef at another restaurant where I was the GM).

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Paul, it was "drinkable"...but it was inferior to the wines we had tasted before dinner (and the ones we would enjoy with the meal). It also was out of context with the meal. I tried it with my sweetbreads..., it showed very poorly. Very thin and bitter where the Crocker and Starr complimented the sweetbreads. It was lush and flavorful enough to cut through the richness of the sweetbreads and meld well with the earthiness of the butter sauteed mushrooms.

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Lizziee---where is the blush icon...you are way too kind...unfortunately, I was not cut out for the business...too much stress and too many long hours for me. I truly admire those who are talented enough to make a successful and more importantly, IMO, happy life in the restaurant biz...I deal with professional golfers now...and enjoy the restaurant business vicariously (and a whole lot more than I did when it was my life!).

Edit to try to correct numerous typing errors!

Edited by southern girl (log)
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  • 2 years later...

I haven't been in about 6 months, but it was very good then. This is a great time of year to eat there - wild mushrooms are in full swing and the Martini House is one of the best places to enjoy them.

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I haven't been in about 6 months, but it was very good then.  This is a great time of year to eat there - wild mushrooms are in full swing and the Martini House is one of the best places to enjoy them.

thanks!! good to know...

i just checked out the mushroom tasting menu & it sounds delish!!

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  • 1 month later...

excellent service/food/wine/dessert

wonderful "sofa" seat next to the real fire was a treat. would like to know how they got the candles lit on the "canoe log" suspended in the center of the dining room.

only critique is they need to make sure their white truffles are of *utmost* quality to expect people to feel like they are getting their money's worth. they weren't "top."

one plus is that everything you see on the menu can be made; even if it's on part of the tasting menu. that's pretty cool i thought.

edit: just read southern girls post above saying that the candles are "faux." is suspected that but i was fooled!

Edited by artisanbaker (log)
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