Napa Valley’s Greatest New Restaurant: Ubuntu Combines Spirituality, Yoga, And Vegetable Nirvana!

ubuntu.jpg

sf.eater.com curbed picked up this article 

Since 1981 I have been on a mission to eat in every great restaurant the world over. Living in San Francisco, and traveling, has given me every opportunity to hit many 5 Star establishments. The list includes: Charlie Trotter, Aqua (SF), Masa’s (SF), Martini House (Napa), Gary Danko (SF), Jardiniere, Postrio, Boulevard, Slanted Door, Stars (back in the day), Tra Vigne (Napa), Lark Creek Inn (Larkspur), Terra (Napa), Acquerello, the Ritz (NY), Cafe Kati, Bix, Farallon, Domaine Chandon (Napa), Auberge du Soleil (Napa), the Meetinghouse (back in the day) and the list goes on and on to the detriment of my retirement fund.

Yesterday I found what may be the greatest health oriented restaurant, better than SF’s Green’s, in California: Ubuntu. Ubuntu bills itself as a restaurant & yoga studio. The restaurant is located in the revitalized up and coming downtown Napa. The space is nothing less than New York sophistication meets San Francisco luxury loft. Supporting high ceilings, matching polished steel, warm earth colors, and multi grained polished woods, Ubuntu feels like a destination restaurant.

Like most great destination restaurants, service and atmosphere go hand in hand. Our service from runner to general manager was outstanding. Everyone had a kind word and a smile on their face. It is obvious the staff understands that they work at a spectacular establishment that is about to take off locally as well as on the world wide culinary stage. The driving force behind this wonderful undercurrent of positive joy is GM Ed Puccio. Ed is a joy and his enthusiasm for Ubuntu and it’s concepts is evident in every way. Fine job Ed!

Like the special atmosphere, the food is spectacular! To attempt to describe it would be almost futile. Simply put it taste rich, creamy, crunchy, fattening, buttery, and filling. Yet all of these taste sensations come WITHOUT THE CALORIES, fat gram intake, or bloated feeling you get from a steak-lobster-pasta dinner of waistline wasteland! There is little doubt that chef Jeremy Fox is a superstar in the making and one of the fastest rising culinary stars in America.

For further proof of Ubuntu’s burgeoning greatness, look no further than Michael Bauer SF Chronicle’s superstar restaurant critic . Bauer knows food and he has seen and met them all. Check out Bauer’s review: “Ubuntu Takes Vegetarian cuisine to New Heights.”

Here is the menu from our lunch:

Bites: Assorted Olives; Marcona almonds

Starters: Garden Broccoli soup a la catalan; marinated beets and asian pears; savory fruit salad; artichoke salad with celery salsa verde; crunchy vegetables and redwood hill chevre.

Entrees: cauliflower in a cast iron pot- This tasted so rich and creamy yet it is all vegetarian and fantastic!; anson mills speckled grits, hickory smoked bbq brussels sprouts-The brussel sprouts were bacon flavored and so tender with creamy grits and celery root for crunch awesome!; stew of black radish, sunchoke, and turnip; mushroom pizza; and wild nettle pizza.

Desserts: Artisan Cheese plate; vanilla bean “cheesecake” in a jar; a shot of hot chocolate; float of tart autumn fruits.

Trust me on this one. It doesn’t get any better, any tastier, and any healthier than ubuntu. All their ingredients including vegetables and spices are grown organically in the restaurant. Combine the world class space, rising superstar chef, outstanding service and warmth, and ubuntu’s spiritual platform and you have what promises to be a nationally recognized restaurant on the rise!

If you liked this review so did Curbed site http://sf.eater.com. Check out my review and comments over there too.

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19 thoughts on “Napa Valley’s Greatest New Restaurant: Ubuntu Combines Spirituality, Yoga, And Vegetable Nirvana!

  1. I’ve eaten at Auberge du Soleil for lunch once. Needless to say, it was spectacular but $95.00 just for lunch when I could have eaten some Chicken McNuggets for $1 was tough to swallow (no pun intended). Thanks for more options!

  2. Schmooze,

    Au Berge also has that snooty “it girl” thing goin on. I like their deck in the summertime, but I much prefer Tra Vigne. It is less expensive, has a nice crowd to watch, and the staff is much friendlier. In addition, Tra Vigne has a small boutique wine store, 15ft away from the restaurant, where you may purchase a great bottle(s) at retail and then bring it to lunch without incurring a corkage fee. Smart way to get what you want for half the price.

    Aloha!

    dean

  3. Sounds like you had a better time there than I did. I’ll agree that the cauliflower and cheesecake dishes are stunning but we had less than spectacular pizzas, service, salad complete with brown bits alongside. My mother who lives in provincial England was non-plussed by the visit, but she still talks about Roxanee’s 5 years later.

  4. Ah Sam,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting!

    Like anything in life we all can agree to disagree. I loved checking out your blog and the “secret” nature of your assignment. Your partner Fred seems to have the culinary “pedigree” for greatness. But you have got to be kidding that mom was “non-plussed by the visit”???

    Considering the following excerpt from your blog, regarding mom’s cooking I presume, I thought she would have enjoyed ubuntu:

    http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/2007/01/about-becks-posh.html#about_1 “Brought up on a sorry 70s British diet of mushy, watery cauliflower cheese, cabbage, gravy and salty gammon steaks with pineapple, the understandably food-finicky child Sam wondered from a very early age if eating could actually ever be a pleasurable experience?”

    Love the blog and thanks again for your two cents

    dean

  5. PS Sam

    I was born in 1960 but do not feel that old.

    Michael Bauer who reviewed Ubuntu ate at the restaurant 3 times. His review, for me, and my experience says it all. Hope you give them another chance-say hi to Mom as I am English too-on mom’s side.

    dean

  6. I didn’t take Fred to Ubuntu (he likes his meat) and the French have fooled the rest of the world if we think they are the only ones with good taste 😉 – but as well as my my mum, there were another couple of discerning palates there, but we all agreed on our opinions of everything we shared. Of course I had read Bauer’s review which is partly why we went. I guess perhaps the hype was too much or they were having an off day or we chose the wrong things (because certainly a few items were incredible) – and I was expecting more of a Manresa-esque experience of the vegetables. 3 days later Fred, Mum and I were at Manresa and we all agreed – the meal there was stunning, especially the vegetables from the garden. I think my mum is more difficult to please than I am. surprising given the quote you cite, huh?
    Of course I’d give them another chance, I am too nice and give the most disappointing places second chances. But it’s such a long drive – there are maybe ohter places I’d rather go.

  7. Sam!

    Thanks for coming back. Fred would be great company for my best friend a fixture at Harris on a weekly basis. As for Ubuntu it really is a fantastic spot. We also had the brussel sprouts with a smoky mesquite bacon flavor over a very creamy grits bed with fresh celery root.

    I will have to try Manresa. I lived in the city for 12yrs around Fillmore and California and now live in what can only be deemed the “black hole” of restaurant landscape: Marin County. It is ugly over here and not getting any better.

    Please take the ride and ask for Ed Puccio the GM. Ed is a very nice guy and he is so intent on making your experience perfect. Tell Ed that Dean from deansguide sent you. Hopefully he will remember me!

    Thanks again Sam and I look forward to reading more about you, mum, and the meat eater Fred!

    dean

  8. Georgia,

    May I call you Georgia?

    This is an incredible place that is destine to the heights of Alice Water’s fabled Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

    If you ever get out here ask for Ed Puccio. Ed is the GM and one of the most humble pleasant guys you will ever meet. Tell Ed dean sent you and I am sure he will regale you with stories and unending service! Be Well Eat Well!

    dean

  9. Well NVWT, it is amazing to my tastes at least. Michael Bauer super critique of the SF Chronicle thinks so also. My friend Sam, at super foodie blog Pecks and Posh, is not as sold on Ubuntu as I am but we do agree that in most cases it has something for everyone.

    dean

  10. i have to agree with the first comment, i wish i was on the west coast. and the comments about how nice Ed Puccio is. He happens to be my brother and he is the nicest person i know and has so much passion and knowlege for what he does he will definity make you feel at home. ok so i’m proud of my brother. do you blame me? Can’t wait to get out there and visit and go to Ubuntu. I’ve heard Great things about it. 🙂

    Nicole

  11. Nicole,

    Thank you so much for your comment. Ed is wonderful, a true gentleman, and I am sure a great friend. Susan and I were lucky enough to meet him and we were so impressed by his professionalism and kindness.

    You have to come visit. If you do let me know so that I can write to Ed and congratulate him.

    Btw this one article I have written has been read over 300 times and it has been linked to by one of the Bay Area’s top food sites curbed aka eater.sf.com as well as http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/

    Thanks again!

    Dean

  12. Really, you think it is that good? Given your use of Bauer’s review (he truly has marginal ability to discern what makes a good restaurant) as a reference, I’ll give you a break on your gushing over this place. Honestly, I’ve eaten there 3 times, also (two too many) and have found the food either over salted (healthy?-not!), average/poor service, and similar menu items that have been done better elsewhere. Just another example of the ‘lemming’ effect of a honeymoon period a restaurant goes through. Give it a good review in the ‘Chronicle’ and other psuedo-foodies will go there. It may survive on its novelty of exercise-room/eatery concept-and all the tourists blindly following poorly judged and biased reviews, but it is, and will be, an average dining experience.

    No surprise. Those that can do the work, do it. Those that know it, teach it. And those that can’t do either become critics. Sums up the problem with the latter group, doesn’t it?

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