Upscale restaurants tend to have fewer guests wearing backward hats. They accomplish this mission not through the use of extensive security forces, but instead with innovative recipes, white tablecloths, high-quality alcohol, and an emphasis on the presentation of the food and the ambiance. This large 240 seat-plus establishment with dark wood tables and upholstered booths fits that description to a ‘T.’
Both the lunch ($7-$17) and dinner ($7-$24) menus combine local trends with global influences—Americana Latina cuisine—using fresh ingredients, grown locally and harvested at their peak. The culinary creations they offer are incredible displays of flavor, balance and dedication to local product. There are new specials daily and a nice offering of fresh fish.
In the kitchen is an alum of The Grill, and Washoe Steakhouse, and Rutherford’s Catering, Chef Sergio Romero.
Joe Clements is the man at the front of the house. He grew up in the business and studied at the CIA Greystone in St. Helena, Calif. He worked locally at The Grill, too, which is how he met Chef Romero.
Under the small-plates heading, tiger shrimp tamal ($10) is on both menus. Three large shrimp, floating in a tamal with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cilantro pesto and dabs of chile oil for a little spice around the edges. The garlic doesn’t overwhelm this extremely fresh shrimp, and the pesto adds that almost minty basil flavor to the mix with just a hint of heat.
My next small plate, on both menus, was the short ribs arepa ($10). The Argentine sauce of guajillo chilis has a green tea flavor with berry overtones. It was blended into the shredded meat with only a small amount of heat. It sat atop a corn cake topped with crème fresco, cilantro pesto and red cabbage. The succulent meat was complemented by the subtle corn flavor or the cake and there was a chile-like finish bringing the dish all together.
A taste of the herb salad ($8) was a tribute to fresh greens, with arugula, dandelion, baby romaine and oak leaf lettuces, and radicchio. Add to this avocado, mango, sweet peppers and mini crispy wontons. Then drip white miso vinaigrette as dressing and I tasted a seasonal and farm-to-table offering to behold—ultra fresh.
Finally, I had the skirt steak ($21) cooked to medium rare. It was julienne cut, with a savory, grilled accent of flavor and very tender. It was topped with chimichurri, finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, lemon and cumin with some wine vinegar added a tart lift to the meat without hurting the wonderful grilled flavor. Potatoes bravas is a Spanish dish. The potatoes are covered in a light sauce made of olive oil, red pepper, paprika, chili and vinegar and grilled, root vegetables—parsnips, carrots and beets.
There’s a respectable wine list ($27-$86) and a full bar with a dozen beers on tap and twice that many in the bottle. The by-the-glass list ($8-$13.25) has a nice selection. So many flavors in the food, I decided to go with a crisp, fresh white, Cantina Zaccagnini Pinot Grigio ($8) from the Abruzzo region of Italy. This wine shows tropical fruit, cut grass and minerals on the nose. On the palate, I found buttery lemon curd followed by granny smith apple with a medium body and a fresh citrus finish.
Eating this much fresh food is highly pleasing to the senses. If you’re a foodie, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling that immediately follows the first bite of something that tastes really good. It’s an epicurean delight you needed at that particular time. I got that at the Twisted Fork.