Friends and acquaintances from out of state often ask me “I got 4 days in New York, what restaurants cannot be missed?” After lecturing them on the necessity of reservations and the virtue of planning ahead, I try my best to help them out. When you’ve devoted so much time and money on a vacation, sometimes one or two disappointing meals can really ruin your day.
That was the same sort of trepidation I faced for my trip to the Bay Area. Luckily, the Wine Spectator issue on Napa yielded great results.
Between wine tastings and tours, sometimes what you really want is a hearty meal. Mustards Grills fulfills this need perfectly. Named after the wild mustard flowers that cover the valley during the spring, Mustards Grill has been serving hungry drivers since 1983. I say that because it refers to itself as a “truck stop”, serving high quality french-styled food.
We arrived at Mustards Grill early during lunch service, and were able to secure a table by the window quickly. While still flipping through the menu, we noticed that the restaurant was quickly filling up even on this weekday. By 12:30, people were being turned away because of the long wait.
Having already tried many wines in the morning, I chose to bypass the wine list, which comically states “way too many wines” on the cover. The food menu was filled with hearty comfort food items, though the name of certain items (Eat Your Vegetables) are not without some playfulness. On the bottom of the menu, the phrase “Sorry…everything has been delicious since 1983″, we’ll see about that.
For appetizer, the Dungeness Crab Cake had delicious large lumps of dungeness crab meat, is lightly battered and deep fried before being topped with chipotle aioli. For someone used to crab cakes iwth blue crab, this was delicious and satisfying. The arugula salad with molasses vinaigrette showed once again the freshness of ingredients from the Napa Valley region.
For entree, you can choose from items out the grill, or those prepared “in the pan”. The Lemon and Garlic Chicken, roasted artichoke, lemon vinaigrette was moist and tasty, and the portions large enough to justify its truck stop designation. The artichokes were slightly blend, with so much richness in the plate, I hoped for something of a more refreshing flavor.
For the other entree, I asked for the most famous dish at the Mustards Grill, the “Famous Mongolian Pork Chop”. Served with sweet & sour red cabbage and housemade mustard, it was a serious pork chop in terms of portion. The seasoning was a bit too much on the sweet side for my taste, though the meat is nicely grilled and very juicy.
If you have room for dessert after entrees at Mustards, I’ll be very impressed. I was stuffed.
Mustards Grill impressed as a casual dining destination between winery visits, though could not quite match up to the many other dining choices around Yountville. For a convenient car stop along St. Helena Highway on your way to more fine wines, this works.
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