There’s a lot of pressure when deciding where to eat dinner in Napa. There are so many restaurants and well-known chefs to choose from. Chowhound and Yelp weren’t as much help as you’d think, because beyond the standard recommendation to go to one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, there’s not much consensus on where else to go. I actually tried to make a reservation at Keller’s Bouchon, but no luck. In the end, my brother-in-law made us a reservation at Bistro Jeanty, a cute French place that he and my sister stumbled onto and enjoyed.
What luck! Bistro Jeanty was wonderful. I was skeptical, because I thought bistro food might be too heavy after a day of wine tasting. But as soon as I walked in the door, I was happy. The restaurant looked so French, from the posters on the wall to the Peugeot pepper grinder and the ceramic mustard jar on the table. Also, walking in gave us a respite from the Thomas Keller “scene,” where people were mobbed around Bouchon and Bouchon bakery.
My sister told me that Bistro Jeanty is known for their tomato soup, so I had to try it. Although there was also a first course of beef marrow that I would have loved to order, but my dinner companions were not as enthusiastic about sharing that one. The soup came en croute, with flaky pastry covering the bowl and flavorful tomato soup inside. The soup was hot and tomato-y and herb-y. It was creamy but not overly so, allowing the tomato flavor to come through.
For the main course, I had boeuf bourguignon, which was the special that night. It was perfect. Large chunks of tender beef and big pieces of vegetable in a wine sauce that was strongly flavored without being cloying. Thank goodness for the bread that allowed me to get every drop of sauce.
The guys had entrecote frites, which is rib-eye steak with fries. The meat was so delicious that it was a shame to dip it in the béarnaise sauce. But then the béarnaise sauce was also good, so we ended up dipping the fries in it. The fries were thin and crisp and were served in a tall cone.
Unfortunately for us, we did not order dessert, for which my brother-in-law still hasn’t forgiven us. My cousin had been eying something at the Bouchon bakery next door. But by the time we were done with dinner, the Bouchon bakery was closed. Lesson learned. If the food at Jeanty is terrific, the desserts probably are too.
Forget Thomas Keller. Next time I go to Napa, I’m going back to Bistro Jeanty. But this time, I’m ordering dessert.