Annoyance is my typical emotion when I open the SF Chronicle Sunday magazine to see yet another review from Michael Bauer of a restaurant in the wine country (e.g., Napa, St. Helena, Yountville, Healdsburg, Calistoga, etc.). It seems to me that over one-half of his Sunday reviews are restaurants in Napa and Sonoma County, counties which hold well less than one half of the Bay Area's population or restaurants. Don't San Francisco, the East Bay or Peninsula have anything worth reviewing?
But this week gets a pass for another Napa review. The reason: he reveals a vegetarian gem called Ubuntu in the city of Napa. Bauer's review overflows with praise:
It's surprising that with all the amazing produce at our back door there aren't more vegetarian restaurants that meticulously respect that bounty. Too many places end up taking great products and diminishing them.
But the newly opened Ubuntu in Napa, which calls itself a vegetable restaurant rather than a vegetarian one , seems to get the idea. It may sound like merely nomenclature, but it makes a difference.
Not since Greens opened in 1979 has a restaurant like this held so much promise. And, thanks to the talents of Jeremy Fox, the food is so good that even die-hard carnivores won't miss meat. Fox was chef de cuisine at the four-star Manresa for four years before taking over this new venture that's both a restaurant and yoga studio.
Flavors of the 16 dishes on the daily-changing menu are combined so meticulously that each element makes the other ones even better. Whether simple or complex, Fox hits a nearly perfect note each time.
...what Fox is creating at Ubuntu is truly extraordinary. He's taking vegetable-based cuisine to a new level.
I'm quite excited to read about a restaurant that elevates vegetables and other products of the earth to the wonders that they are, instead of as a garnish to a yet another risotto.
Vegetarian (or vegetable loving) readers in the Bay Area or those planning a visit to the wine country, put Ubuntu on your "to dine" list. It's definitely on mine.
Random link from the archive: A Tale of Morel-ity
Technorati tags: Restaurants : vegetarian : Food