From Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip
It was clear when I stepped in the Calistoga restaurant that the staff was welcoming. Even the chef, Greg Elliott, made time to stop by our table for a quick hello to ask if everything was to our liking. What’s not to like at Brannan’s Grill, this upvalley California wine country restaurant? Well, I confess, I don’t like pan seared Sonoma Foie Gras on toasted Brioche, $16 and I don’t care for baby beet and farro salad, with avocado, preserved lemon and goat’s milk feta $12, but everything else on the menu; bring it on!
For starters, the butternut squash soup with toasted hazel nuts at $4.50 a cup and $9 a bowl, served alongside their wonderful bread, would have made for a satisfying light supper, paired with one of their salads. However, I was staying overnight at the Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort, a stones throw from the restaurant, and since I wasn’t driving, I took advantage of Brannan’s wide-ranging wine list. If you are on the road visiting Napa Valley or simply a wine connoisseur, ask if the restaurant has any 1/2 bottles of the Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon on hand. This St. Helena-based winery allocates their juice. Feel honored if you can score a .375 ml. bottle. If, like me, you are a Pinot Noir drinker, the Starfish Russian River Sonoma, at $15 a glass is fabulous.
Fans of Ahi tuna will swoon over the fish, cooked to your liking, served with roasted sun chokes, lentils, caraway and a orange reduction sauce for $27. Meat eaters will enjoy fall-off-the-bone braised short ribs served with a pumpkin ravioli at $24. Pasta lovers may like the handcut rosemary fettuccine with a wild winter mushroom sauce with chantrelle and porcini mushrooms, topped with pecorino cheese. Yum! Dishes such as creamed spinach are served on the side for an additional charge.
Love it or hate it, we always hear, “did you save room for dessert?” I didn’t save room, but that didn’t stop me from ordering Brannan’s Famous chocolate “lava” torte, priced at $10. The cheese plate, including Marin French Gold from Petaluma, looked good, too.
Photos by Nancy D. Brown
1 (707) 942-2233
1374 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515-1702