Restaurant Review - February 4, 2008 - Joanne

Ubuntu exterior
Restaurant and Yoga Studio

1140 Main Street, Napa

Visited: October 12, 2007 – Lunch

This happening new spot in downtown Napa has the instant appeal of focusing on fresh seasonal vegetables (much of the produce comes from their own biodynamic gardens). The chef is Jeremy Fox (most recently chef de cuisine at Manresa), his wife, Deanie (also ex-Manresa) is the pastry chef.

The restaurant was designed with green and sustainablity in mind. The décor has lots of reclaimed wood, from floors to furnishings, with exposed stone and an airy feel...which I thought was very Napa-SoHo-ish. There is a prominent sculpture of nudes that makes a strong statement; it reminded me of Pompeiian ash preserved figures. The yoga loft is tucked upstairs.

The kid's menu is a very slick full-color placemat with a Kid’s Chef’s tasting menu offered. It still contained “kid-friendly” food like pizza and the tasting menu included two desserts (watermelon and ice cream) which I thought was overkill. (Jack gives them bonus pts for this menu, though.)

Our recent lunch was good but not the divine vegetable indulgence I had hoped for. We enjoyed the starters more than the mains. Service was friendly but spotty with lack of silverware, misdelivered food and plates tardily removed. If you happen to be in Napa with a vegetarian, this is your destination, otherwise it’s currently an interesting diversion. We will return.

Fingerling Potatoes at Ubuntu
Yum. Highly recommended. Jack hopes I can make fingerlings taste this good soon.

Ratatouille at Ubuntu, Napa, CA
Really good but the zucchini bread croutons were actually distracting – and much too sweet, IMHO.

Tomato Soup at Ubuntu
Tomato Soup
Finely pureed to creamy consistency. Came with a quenelle of ricotta, which didn’t improve it. The soup was very good on its own. Garnished with basil oil – I would have liked to have seen some fresh basil.

Beans and Pasta Gratin at Ubuntu
Beans and Pasta Gratin
We had to look for the pasta. Really. It was there in tiny threads but not many of them. So the main course was beans with a quenelle of tomato puree and lovely soft (on the harder side) cooked egg. Seemed like a side dish not a main course. In a few bites the egg disappears with the quenelle and then you are left with many, many beans.

Funghi Mushroom pizza at Ubuntu
Mushroom Pizza
I had worried as the menu said the mushrooms had been chopped – but this pizza was rather delightful, with a good cheese to mushroom ratio. The crust was a bit tough. Ubuntu has a gas-powered Pizza oven.
Interior at Ubuntu, Napa, CA
Interior at Ubuntu, Napa, CA

Lunch Menu at Ubuntu, Napa, CA Kids Menu at Ubuntu, Napa, CA

Kid's Pizza at Ubuntu
Kids pizza
Included Ricotta which made it soggy. Tomato sauce on the sweet side. Tasted good but was not appealing to our young diner.

Kids Garden Vegetables
A plate of roasted root vegetables: carrots, turnips and fingerling potatoes. Good but not what I was expecting (I thought maybe raw or blanched garden vegetables).

Cranberry Pomegranite Float
Cranberry pomegranate float
Good concept, done well, but too much of a good thing – a smaller size of this would have been great. The soda disappears and there is lots of tart sorbet to finish.

Cappucino at Ubuntu
Strong but not bitter. Could have used a lump of sugar but none in sight. Screamed for a cookie.

Epoisses at Ubuntu
Three choices: Epoisses, Roaring 40s Blue and Roomano Pradera
We chose Epoisses which was served with prunes in Armagnac. Good but the Époisses was on the younger side of good.

2005 Chasseur Chardonnay
2005 Chasseur Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

The wine list has some very good choices and is reasonably priced.

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