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Apr 30

The Napa Grille Cincinnati, Again

UPDATE, 9/10/2007: We just learned that The Napa Grille suddenly
closed. The employees have all gone elsewhere and the restaurant is no
more. I can’t tell you how sad we are that this happened. We’ll miss
The Napa Grille.

In February of 2006, Kevin and I ate at a new restaurant called The Napa Grille, which we really liked. (See the blog post of that meal here.) Since then, we’ve returned twice, including Saturday night.

The first great thing about The Napa Grille is the reservation system. I’ve mentioned before that I’m quite enamored of OpenTable.com, which allows you to make all your dinner reservations online. Every time I log on to the site, I’m surprised by the number of new restaurants available in Cincinnati. The Napa Grille has been online with OpenTable since they opened in January 2006.

Last night we were joined by our friends Kate & Ben. We had 6:30 pm reservations and were immediately seated. We had excellent service over the course of the evening from Beau Bacon, the manager, and Geoffrey, our server.

The wine selection was amazing. In fact, you can download the 30-page booklet of 101 by-the-glass/by-the-taste options. You can also order from a wide selection of wine flights or create your own. It’s an expansive list compiled in a binder, including information about each wine and winery, as well as ratings from Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, and others. The Napa Grille also uses an Argon wine preservation system, which safely displaces oxygen from the opened bottle. (I’ll review the wine at the end, after the jump.)

We started with several wines recommended by Beau. From there we moved on to the California Artisanal Cheese plate. This was good, but had more fruit than cheese. We all ordered a second round of different wines to try with the cheese plate. For dinner, we all took different paths. At Geoffrey’s recommendation, I tried the special of the evening – mahi mahi with lavender jasmine rice and a mango salsa. It was delicious. Ben had the duck, Kate had halibut in a lobster truffle sauce (this was quite tasty) and Kevin ordered the 6-oz filet with fantastic whipped potatoes.

To accompany our food, we each ordered a wine flight. At that point we had upwards of 12 glasses around our table. Following dinner, we each had a pinot noir sorbet that had recently been dreamed up by Beau and the chef. It was really sweet, but quite tasty. Sort of like a wine slushee. Following this we had dessert. I believe there was a cheesecake, an opera cream torte, and in my case, the chocolate decadence cake – soft, warm chocolate sponginess filled with warm oozing chocolate. Kate & I each had a dessert wine and Ben followed his meal with a glass of scotch.

The Napa Grille earns a giant happy face from all four of us. Our meal lasted around 3.5 hours, yet we never felt pressure to rush through our meal. Geoffrey, our server, was knowledgeable and helpful. He easily tread that fine line between being attentive and not hovering. The food was quite good, but that was to be expected. The service and food has been consistent for Kevin & I across our three visits.

At this point, we only have one suggestion to improve the Napa Grille. We’ve been spoiled by Bin 36 in Chicago, where each wine flight comes with a pre-printed sheet listing the name and region of each wine. It provides the information you need as well as place to take notes. After all, if you like it, you want to remember the details. It would be great if the Napa Grille added this to their flights.

The Napa Grille is a hidden gem, quietly existing in the bottom floor of the Hyde Park Regency. One of Cincinnati’s best kept secrets. I hope they start offering wine tastings and winemaker dinners to help draw attention to a quality little place.

Our rating:

The Napa Grille
2444 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH 45208
Cost: Expensive, but worth it

Wine notes after the jump.

I don’t have notes from all the wines, but here’s what I did manage to write down.

First round of glasses:

Perrin Grenache Blanc 2004, Reserve Blanc, Côtes du Rhone: Kate & Ben: no notes, but overall review –

Chatêau la Grace Dieu, Bordeaux: Kevin: 80% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon/franc. Not many tannins, some licorice and cherry. Definitely some smoke. Overall review:

Chatêau de Pez, Bordeaux, St. Estephe: Michelle: Lighter and fruiter than Kevin’s Bordeaux. Earthy elements, and maybe some thyme. 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc. Overall review:

Second round of glasses:

Dry Creek Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2005, Clarksburg: Michelle: I tried this one because I had so disliked the chenin blanc I tried at the biodynamic tasting. I wanted to see if there were similarities. I couldn’t find any, as I really enjoyed this chenin blanc. It had a citrus nose, mixed with a little petrol. The taste was citrusy/fruity, dry, and earthy. Very enjoyable. Overall review:

Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2004: Kate: heavy on the butter and the toasted oak. There was even a bit of wheat and coffee in the nose. Kate really enjoyed it, while I was overwhelmed by the oak. But that’s why there are so many types of wine, for so many types of people. Kate’s review: , my review:

Pinot Blanc: Unknown information: Because this one was chosen by Beau for Ben, we’re unsure what it was. Not that Beau didn’t tell us, we just didn’t listen well enough and then forgot to follow up with him. Based on the wine binder, we know it is either from Oregon or Russian River Valley. We suspect it was the Russian River Valley (Trinitas, 2004). This had licorice on the nose and on the palate. It was chalky, with a tingle on the back end. Ben was having trouble finding words to describe it. My review:

Chatêau la Sauvageonne 2001, Coteaux de Languedoc: Kevin: Kevin asked for a surprise syrah, and this is what Beau brought. It surprised all of us. It had an earthy nose. For me, it was filled with chocolate, earth, and black currant. We all tried this one and loved it. Overall review: .

Wine Flights with Dinner:

Kevin’s flight: Fabulous for Filets

  • Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley):
  • Newton Claret 2003 (Napa Valley):
  • Chandon Pinot Meunier 2005 (Carneros):

Michelle’s flight: Splendid Sauvignon Blancs

  • Cakebread 2005 (Napa Valley): Too grapefruity,
  • Pascal Jolivet 2004 (Sancere, Loire Valley):
  • Caymus Conundrum 2005 (Napa Valley): Had more structure than expected. Loved this.

Kate had the Spring in the French Countryside flight and Ben had the Napa Cabernet flight. Unfortunately, I don’t have notes on their flights, but I do know that the Cakebread Cab was not a favorite at the table.

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