Want cheese with that?
Reno, NV 89509-3468
I just returned from a wine tasting trip in Napa and Sonoma, and I was missing all that wine and fanciness, so I decided to take my friends Abby and Benny to the local Napa-Sonoma Grocery Company, which has a new location at Plumgate. Napa-Sonoma offers wines, gift baskets, cheeses and meats in addition to the restaurant area in the back.
There’s a full bar and several beers on tap, so you don’t have to be into wine to enjoy this place, but you can purchase any bottle in the store and have it opened. The bar itself is beautiful, with a shiny earth-colored coating. Stone tiles go up the back of the bar to the ceiling, and the floor is made of cork. Napa-Sonoma gives off a neighborhood bar vibe, but the neighborhood is the Old Southwest, so the place is upscale. However, while Napa-Sonoma could have easily gone the route of pretentious, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. No one even stared too much when I referred to my wine as “good shit,” something that will damned near get you run out of actual Napa.
We went on a Friday night, and the place was packed, but we found one of the last remaining tables. It just happened to be by the fireplace. We started with a bottle of wine off the menu, the Straton Loomis Cabernet ($23.95), and the cheese fondue ($11.95). It arrived with slices of rye and sourdough bread and green apples, which we could dip into a big pot of gruyere and Swiss cheese blended with white wine brandy and spices. The fondue was not only delicious but also huge, so be warned that this could easily serve as dinner. The green apples were crisp and complemented the cheese well.
We also had the chicken pot pie with a cup of clam chowder ($11.95). The clam chowder was unfortunately rather runny and bland. When the pot pie arrived, a flaky puff pastry rose above the bowl containing chunks of chicken and vegetables, but alas, aside from the pretty pastry topping, the chicken and vegetables were flavorless, and the texture was not thick enough for my liking. Benny began dumping salt and pepper into the mix, hoping to add some flavor, but it didn’t really help.
We also ordered half of a turkey sandwich with a side salad ($7.95). All the sandwiches are available cold or panini style, so we went panini style. The salad was fresh and crisp with a tangy balsamic dressing. The sandwich arrived with arugula, manchego cheese, avocado, tomatoes and truffle mayonnaise on sourdough bread. The sandwich was more successful with the crispy sourdough and fresh arugula, but I couldn’t taste the truffle mayonnaise, and the manchego didn’t have enough flavor.
What do you do when your food was kind of disappointing, but you love the atmosphere? Order more wine! Abby selected a bottle of Truchard Syrah ($25.95). We didn’t like the Truchard as much as our first bottle, but our waitress suggested we cork it and take it home in case we wanted it later. She even brought us a bag so we didn’t look like total winos walking around with a half empty bottle.
Overall, I think Napa-Sonoma is gorgeous and has a great atmosphere and friendly staff. I hope they work on the food, but even if nothing changes, this is a great bar in a great location.