Sunday, July 18, 2010


1140 Main St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 251-5656

Reviewed 2/22/2010

A Frank Bruni fan, I was excited to try this restaurant, which is on his short list. This is gourmet vegetarian like I've never experienced...and it makes Californian cuisine look vogue, and me feel smug for living here. It's ultra haute cuisine.

We had...

  • A marinated beet salad:

  • A curry soup, which was the most beautiful soup I have ever seen. It was poured in front of us in all of its multi-hued green glory. Gorgeous...and tasty!
And the rest I lifted from their website, which is not updated as of this writing:

david little's 'corolla' potatoes roasted in HAY and wild SAGE *
'lady' APPLE, sauerkraut, wild CRESS, horseradish fondue

miso "bagna cauda", meyer LEMON, pine nut, vella jack

corn grits

chickpea clusters in napa smith ale batter (v) winter HERBS and romesco

marcona almonds (v) LAVENDER sugar, sea salt


They were all excellent and distinct from each other.

Something was a bit off about our main server, otherwise I'd give Ubuntu five stars. When I inquired about the cauliflower clay pot dish, she smiled and said, "I'm sorry it's not on the menu any more!" and then bolted. She was otherwise good and efficient, however, and was one of a well-coordinated team that served us.

Beware: the portions are tiny. It reminded me of how ginormous servings are in the Japan, Ubuntu's portions would seem normal. I feel like the four of us moderately big eaters would have had to order everything on the lunch menu (not counting desserts) to feel the way we usually do after going to a restaurant, which is bloated and Blimpie-like.

But a) that's not healthy, and b) what you're paying for at Ubuntu--like at a high end Japanese place--is presentation, artistry and delectable, nuanced flavor. The kind that makes your mouth exclaim: wow! who's the genius behind this? what's that flavor? what's that spice?

The interior is simple, clean and classy with high ceilings.

Ahhh. Oooooooooohhhhhmmmmm.

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