540 Main St
Napa, CA 94559-3353
In truth, I am easy to please when it comes to food. But you know what, this meal we had at Angèle has been one of the best meals of my life. It was the most perfect thing because every dish, basically, everything that I put in my mouth in this dinner was just oh so good.
Angèle is located in downtown Napa, in the new development overlooking the Napa River, a few steps from Morimoto’s. It is obviously a French restaurant, that serves traditional French cuisine with contemporary influences. For Valentine’s Day 2011, Chef and I both decided to check this place out. It was recommended to me by one of my classmates in French class. I read up on some reviews before getting there and somewhere it was mentioned that the servers spoke French. I was excited because when we went to La Note in Berkeley, I didn’t know enough verbs then to speak with the Parisienne server. Now that I have more French verbs and words under my belt, I was looking forward to using what I have learned. Much to my dismay, no one spoke to us in French at Angèle, even if our server made it a point to mention that he speaks the language.
The lack of French-speaking did not stop me from raving about this place. The ambience is warm and cozy, yet still elegant. From the railing with magazines on the room divider to the interesting purposely pixelated wall art, Angèle was quite pleasant to look at, and even more pleasant to be in.
I prepared myself for a hefty meal that night, so I planned on pacing myself. That plan was quickly thrown out the Mediterranean-inspired window when I had my first bite of the simplest thing ever, the baguette. It has been the best baguette I have ever tasted outside of Paris. We had to ask if they made this in-house, because that would be really impressive. According to the server, the baguettes are ordered from the best baguette maker in the Bay Area, Acme Bread Company. They deliver it to Angèle half-cooked, so right before they are ready to serve, that’s when they finish cooking.
For our appetizer, I ordered the fruits de mer (upper left hand corner of picture below). This was a warm seafood salad of clams, octopus, and scallops sitting over a squid ink vinaigrette with cauliflower, arugula, and Marcona almonds. I love seafood, but I loved it more that it was served warm. The octopus, which I’m not normally a fan of because I’ve developed trypophobia after seeing a picture of… I won’t even go there, anyway, it was tender and not chewy. Thanks to the squid ink vinaigrette, it kept the dish seafood-y in smell and taste. Particularly special about this night other than the fact that it was Valentine’s day was that I got to order one of Chef’s dishes, which almost never happens! So, for him, I ordered the petit salé (upper right hand corner). I really would not have known what this was had it not been for the description, and the description read crispy skinned suckling pig. DING DING DING!!! LECHON!!! This was by far the fanciest lechon I have ever had, served cubed over a pumpkin purée, duck confit, and green peppercorn jus. This was exactly what I needed as I have been craving for lechon for weeks. It was nicely done, better than I have ever had them even in the Philippines. The skin stayed crispy and the meat was so tender. Paired with the pumpkin purée, this was to die for.
Amazed with how good our appetizer was, we were excited for the main course, especially after our server mentioned that we made such good choices. I ordered what was called the pintade (lower left corner), which was pancetta wrapped guinea hen with boudin noir on the side, and parsley root, cipollini onions, chestnuts and brussels sprouts. Bacon wrapped chicken, I thought, very nice. Very good because it didn’t taste gamey at all. And, the salt in this dish was carefully balanced by the brussels sprouts, which I normally do not eat. I love pig blood, so the boudin noir was a delight too. This particular blood sausage was made with a mix of pork and duck. Fabulous or what?! For chef, he chose the canard (lower right), the duck. It was the duck breast served with creamed swiss chard and duck confit, Seville orange marmalade, and duck jus. Of course, I liked my dish better but this, once again, was a dish with perfect balance. The duck was cooked to perfection. By this time I was already so full, so I barely had any of Chef’s duck, but he finished the whole plate, so I was certain he was more than satisfied with the dish.
There’s always room for dessert, right? Chef had the sorbet du jour, which for the life of me, I cannot remember what fruit this was. I’m certain it’s not strawberry or raspberry, because it was more tropical. I ordered the gratin à la banane, essentially an apple crumble except that it was banana and the crust is made of almonds. My warm dessert and Chef’s refreshing one was a perfect pair, I did not know what I wanted to eat last to savor.
This was another perfect date, and for Valentine’s day, there’s no better combination than good food and good love.