Monday, March 10, 2008
I really don't want to think of this as a restaurant review, even though I've been to Ubuntu in Napa twice now. The new, upscale vegetable restaurant.
I find restaurant reviewing really hard. I wrote a couple of reviews for San Francisco restaurants when our major reviewer at the paper I worked for had to recuse herself, due to neighborhood dibsies. Yes, dibsies is a word. And restaurant reviewing is really hard.
Nonetheless. OK, Ubuntu again. First time, last November, with Sam and her mum. I didn't write about it then. We ate well, but there were problems. I was inclined to ascribe the problems to poor ordering from the menu. (But why should a menu inflict you with poor ordering options?)
This most recent time, with Anita and Cameron, we avoided our prior pitfall of two almost-identical (and over-peppered) pizzas. But we still got whammied. We ordered the famous cauliflower in an iron pot, and it was still good, if not actually better. A couple of other dishes were quite nice. Everything was beautiful.
One of the first things that came to the table was fried sunchokes with romesco sauce. My first bite, and I said, "salty." I felt like a ninny, only to discover that almost everything else that came out was oversalted.
Anita had to scrape away the greens from her dish of farm egg with robuchon potatoes and red wine Ubuntu spinach. Too salty.
I've heard a rumor/myth that chefs might be inclined to oversalt food if the temperature in the kitchen is too hot. Sweat out your own natural juices, and you just might find yourself craving salt. Hence, the food you're cooking doesn't taste salty enough, and you wreck it.
I don't know if that's true.
One of us at the table speculated that the kitchen is handicapped by having to serve only non-meat food, and may be jacking up the seasoning in order to come across as butch enough. Could be.
Anyway, in a nutshell, here's my opinion of Ubuntu. 1) Not enough customers in this good-looking restaurant on a sunny Sunday afternoon. 2) Beautiful presentations (and I haven't even told you about the other stuff we ate; the desserts were gorgeous). 3) Oversalted.
I just want to say that this is a restaurant receiving national acclaim. I will probably go back there, myself. But it's skidding off its tracks and somebody needs to say something.
a grain of salt
Posted by cookiecrumb at 4:06 PM