Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cindy's Back Street Kitchen

When my family was here a couple of weeks ago we went up to Napa Valley to go wine tasting for a few days. My parents, who have visited the Bay Area several times, had never been. Plus my brother turned 21 and my mom figured what a better way to celebrate being of legal drinking age than to get drunk multiple times a day with your family? Well, no, that's not really what she thought, her plan was to educate my brother about wine. But I think the rest of us thought maybe it was the other way around? At any rate, in between drinking you have to eat, right? And besides wine and beautiful views, if there's one thing Napa is known for it's amazing food. We had more than our fair share of places to choose from, and I picked out a few restaurants ahead of time (including my all time favorite Celadon), but this time we did something I rarely do and it paid off in a big way. I didn't plan and instead asked the locals to recommend a few of their favorite places.

The Tuesday we were there we did some wine tasting up in St. Helena (which is in Northern Napa County) and then went into town to show my parents our favorite olive oil and vinegar shops. They are super expensive, but it's nice to go and taste all kinds of yummy sauces and things, and maybe splurge and buy ONE thing. Afterwards I wanted to eat downtown, but we had Charlie which can sometimes pose an issue. Not all restaurants have outdoor seating, and not all places with outdoor seating allow dogs. So we popped over into the local boutique pet store (where my mom, probably because she was drunk, got Charlie some peanut butter treats) and asked where they would recommend. Without hesitation the girl said Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, pointed us in the right direction, and within 5 minutes we were seated and devouring bread (because we were that hungry...and well, it was good bread).

Our waitress was extremely friendly and good to Charlie (bringing him some water and home made dog treats), which always earns brownie points in our book. And the restaurant itself had a homey feeling. It reminded me of being in some tiny whole in the wall town at the restaurant the local matriarch opened up. Comfort food and feelings of home. The one thing that bugged us, though, was the massive amount of flies that would drift in and out of the patio area. There was no food lying around, they probably just knew eventually our food would be delicious and they wanted a piece. At any rate, Cindy's needs to figure out how to deal with that problem because it was definitely annoying. Although in all honesty, it's not enough to keep us from going back because the food was too good to stay away.

So yes, the food. It was delicious. My mother and I both had the grown-up grilled cheese of the day which had two different kinds of cheese, a fig spread, among other things, and was on walnut bread. I think by now you know this, but I love complex foods. Sweet and savory together is my all time favorite flavor combination. So this grilled cheese was probably the best I'd ever eaten in my life. They came with polenta fries, which were also amazing and gave me a great idea for another recipe. When eating them I almost felt like a wild animal, smacking everyone away from my plate who wanted more than the little bit I offered up for a taste. My brother got goat cheese ravioli (which I had also considered ordering and was almost disappointed I didn't because it was that good that it rivaled the best grilled cheese ever). And both my dad and Nick ordered the fried cod sandwich (think fish and chips on a bun), which I didn't try, but they said was good. A family wide hit means we'll definitely be back. This weekend we're going up to Napa again with Nick's brother. I'm starting to think this is where we should go for lunch...

And now, just two pictures of food from their website:

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