1313 is a lucky number
Don’t listen to the people who think San Francisco or New York or Chicago is the center of great food–I’m sold on Napa. We love Morimoto,Angele and Torq, and last night Sigrid introduced us to 1313 Main, which may be my new favorite.
Situated right at 1313 Main Street with all the other palaces of haute cuisine, 1313 Main is open, modern, casual and very quiet. Not having to fight a ton of ambient noise is a pleasure; the mark of a restaurant for adults not cash heavy hipsters.
The online menu indicates a $70 tasting 4 course tasting menu. Last night they were offering a $250, 9 course, 3 hour tasting menu. Not what we had in mind.
The a la carte menu is varied; hardly the standard fare. Each dish is clearly thought out and carefully developed. You never get the feeling that they decided to have a steak and a fish and a chicken and just filled out the menu by rote.
The night started off on a note of insanity. I wanted iced tea, as usual. Silly me. They offered me an $8 bottle of sweetened tea, already “very sweet”, sweetened with cane sugar. No, I just want iced tea. How about hot tea and ice. Well, they have a “tea service” with a variety of teas. OK, how about just a pot of black tea and sweetener. Nope, we don’t have any sweetener.
I had water. Imagine the management decisions that lead to me being unable to get a simple glass of iced tea and a yellow packet of sweetener. Some places are just too hip, slick and cool to be reasonable.
The amuse bouche is a tiny gift from the chef, a miniature bite to “amuse the mouth”. Chefs work to make these into tiny works of art, a bit of culinary genius to begin the show.
My starter was one of the most amazing things I have ever enjoyed:
This is a poached egg, with black truffle. It is sitting in potato mousseline, which mostly reminded me of a jar of marshmallow cream. It was fantastic, superb, magnificent, subtle and unique. This dish alone is worth a trip to Napa. Do not miss it.
What’s Hanukkah without latkes? 1313 Main ups the ante with a bit of smoked caviar. It’s to die for.
The tree huggers managed to get foie gras outlawed in California for a while, but sanity prevailed and this incredible French death food is once again available. That was my second course
Seared foie gras, served on a carmelized red onion tart with elderberry glaze. The little white dabs are parsnip puree topped with dandelions. Yes, I ate the flowers too.
My entreé was the loser of the evening. I ordered the herbed gnocchi, and asked that they hold the forest mushrooms. Sigrid piped up and said she’d like the mushrooms. I got a tiny plate of pretty plain gnocchi, and a side bowl of the mushrooms with all the other goodies the dish should have had–cured egg yolk and pea shoot salad. That just didn’t work out very well for me, but Sigrid loved her share of my dinner.
Sigrid won two ways–she not only had the good stuff (and the mushrooms) from my meal, she ordered the Bavette Steak and loved every bite. Bavette is the $37 way to say flank steak.
Each dish is a work of art. Presentation is immensely important in fine dining, and 1313 Main does a brilliant job of it. Gail chose the Amish lamb saddle for her main course:
No, I have no idea what makes this dish “Amish”. As is often the case, there seems to be an inverse relationship between tenderness and tastiness. Gail had difficulty cutting and eating the meat, but the flavor was exceptional. It was accompanied by lamb back, which is milder and less salty than pork.
You can’t just have a meal like this without a proper finish, and we chose the pound cake churros, accompanied by chocolate mousse and some rich liquid chocolate for ‘sipping or dipping’. We chose dipping.
Although Gail usually abjures dessert, she had her full share of this one. Little logs of pound cake are deep fried and sugar/cinnamon coated. Yes, it’s sinful. I’ll give it up for Lent. Maybe.
Service is first rate, without being the overdone, obsequious fawning you find at some ultra-fancy establishments. Prices are high, not outrageous. Except for the gnocchi, portions are quite decent.
So now I’ve got another favorite Napa eatery. I wonder if they will charge me corkage if I bring my own iced tea?