7399 St Helena Hwy, Yountville, CA 94558. (707) 944-2424
Can you believe what lovely weather we Sacramentans have been experiencing? It's been so warm that the daffodils in my courtyard have started pushing up early. My folks have been keeping me abreast of the temps in Kansas City (-5 degrees during the day) and I've heard from friends in states like Wisconsin that the current temp is -20 but it's expected possibly to drop to -40 degrees. How insane is that? It's times like these that I'm thankful that I live in Sacramento where the weather is pretty moderate. I've done my time in the Midwest (South Dakota, Illinois and Kansas) not to mention Alaska and I do not like below zero weather. Anyhow, if you're in Sacramento and want to get out and enjoy this lovely weather and soak in a little sun, take a little day trip out to the wine country and check out Cindy Pawlcyn's Mustards Grill. The casual eatery is located just off the St.Helena Highway in Yountville and has been feeding folks for about 30 years.
Mr.S's brother recently purchased a home in Napa and we went out to visit. Mr.S helped him move his treadmill from one of the bedrooms into the garage and as a thank you, he took us (Mr.S, Kidlet #1, and myself) to Mustards Grill for lunch. The small restaurant is a one story white affair with the words "Steak - Chops - Ribs - Garden Produce - Way Too Many Wines" emblazoned above the large picture windows in mustard yellow. It has a bit of a diner flair to it which I really liked- black and white checkerboard lino, specials highlighted on several chalkboard menus and lots of natural light. You walk right into the hustle and bustle and if you're lucky you get seated right away, if you're not- settle in it could be a long wait. The restaurant is quite popular with both local and out-of-towners alike. If you get stuck waiting, take the opportunity to step outside and meander through their gorgeous 2 acre garden which the eatery sources 20% of it's vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs from.
We were seated in one of the half-booths against the wall of windows. Crisp white tablecloths and linens, wood furnishings and gleaming glassware gave the restaurant a very clean, airy feeling. (My only issue during my visit, was that the linens were extremely linty and my white napkin left my black sweater looking like an avalanche of dandruff had been dropped along the front lower half of it.) The dress code is California casual (a lot of jeans and sweaters) and it's a fun place to people watch. If you're into wines, they have a large selection. Just peruse through their wine book, appropriately labeled, "Way Too Many Wines."
When it came time to order, making a decision was difficult. Everything on the seasonal menu sounded phenomenal and fresh. There was a little bit of everything on the menu- lamb, duck, ahi, ribs....I knew that the restaurant's signature dish was their Mongolian pork chops with sweet and sour cabbage slaw and house made mustard but the lobster risotto on the specials board caught my eye. Mr.S decided to give the grilled rabbit a try.
We started with some Dungeness crab cakes that were delicious. Nice and meaty inside and wonderfully crispy on the outside. We had four people so we ordered two orders so that each of us could have our own plump crab cake topped with a bit of chipotle aioli. Our server had the kitchen split the orders onto individual plates without our needing to ask. Nice touch! Mr.S's brother really enjoyed the arugula salad with molasses vinaigrette that came with the order.
My lobster risotto was outstanding. Much like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, most risotto I encounter is overcooked, undercooked, or flavorless. This one was juuuuust right! There were large chunks of meaty Maine lobster, a mélange of earthy black trumpet and chanterelle mushrooms, and a fresh garden mint and arugula salsa verde drizzled across the top. The risotto was light (definitely not creamed based like some places do it) but still exuded a lot of flavor. In fact, I prefer it prepared this way. It was quite a large portion and I couldn't finish it. I took the leftovers home, added some homemade breadcrumbs and made some scrumptious lobster arancini for dinner.
Mr.S was nice enough to swap a few bites with me and his rabbit dish was superb. Grilled flawlessly. There was no hint of gaminess, it was juicy and tender and huge in flavor. The rabbit was accompanied by a large serving of shredded Brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes and topped with a heavenly mustard sauce. That sauce---whew! I need to learn how to make it, I'm totally in love with it. It was creamy with the perfect amount of Dijon infused through it. Honestly, each bite I had tasted even better than the previous bite, if that's even possible. Mr.S is lucky I didn't eat my lunch AND his!
Our server was a pro. Friendly, helpful and on top of everything. She knew how to balance being attentive without being bothersome. Kudos! I would most definitely visit Mustards again for some good solid comfort food. In fact, one of the things I loved about Mustards was that they confidently display a sign that states, "Sorry, Everything is Delicious,"...and everything really is! I doubt Cindy Pawlcyn and her crew could turn out a dish that's less than fabulous even if they tried.