Guest blogger Penny Sadler visits Evangeline, a new French bistro in Calistoga, California
If I have one regret about my recent visit to Evangeline—it’s that I didn’t eat more…
Or to be more precise, I had been instructed to eat lightly and forego alcohol. In Calistoga, where thermal spa treatments are as popular as wine tastings, this is the proper protocol. I hadn’t considered that when I booked brunch and a spa treatment immediately after.
No wine drinking in Napa Valley? I know it sounds insane but I agreed. It was my only opportunity to visit Evangeline, a French bistro with a Creole soul and relative newcomer to the Calistoga fine dining scene.
Prior to working as sous-chef at Solbar at Solage Resort in Calistoga, Executive Chef Gustavo Rios was Chef de Partie at Bouchon Bistro, a Thomas Keller restaurant in Yountville and worked at The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia. At Evangeline, the chef creates Creole- and Cajun-inspired dishes showcasing the best local ingredients.
As I approached the restaurant on foot, a man standing at the entrance welcomed me. Though it was a chilly morning and fog still shrouded the mountains, I chose to sit at a table on the beautiful patio where gas lamps overhead kept everything toasty warm. Besides, I felt as if I were in New Orleans. Different shades of red brick paved the way to wrought iron chairs. Lush flowering baskets overflowed with color. It is no accident that Evangeline has a New Orleans vibe. Chef Rios has developed a menu reminiscent of the Crescent City.
Deciding what to eat was difficult. With choices like Gulf shrimp and antebellum grits or poached eggs with truffle hollandaise sauce, it was almost impossible to choose. In the end, the spa treatment after breakfast dictated what I ordered, which was divine. Beet and avocado tartine featured Coke Farm beets, Haas avocado and burrata cheese served open-faced on toasted seeded bread. Doesn’t that sound deliciously healthy and spa-like? Don’t worry, I also ordered cheese grits.
The beet tartine tasted as good as it looked. I have always loved beets and will typically order any dish that contains them. But what really captured my attention was the burrata cheese. It was extraordinary — fresh, light, creamy, and full of flavor. The grits were perfectly blended with parmesan and gruyere cheese, adding some crunchy texture.
The Sunday brunch drinks menu was way too tempting. Millionaire’s Bloody Mary or Passion Fruit Bellini anyone? Damn, it was too late to cancel that spa treatment.
The wine-by-the-glass menu features mainly California wines. However if you order a bottle, the selection of Old World wines is substantial and not inexpensive. If you prefer to bring your own bottle the corkage fee is $20.00 Bottled and draft beer are also available including Kronenbourg, a French beer.
Of course there were some wicked-good desserts on the menu, Tarte Tatine, which is simply a slice of apple pie served with vanilla ice cream, a classic. I also tried the baumkuchen, a German layer cake with huckleberry compote and creme anglaise. I was ridiculously disciplined and had only a bite of each. I was afraid if I ate any more I’d sink like a rock in the hydrotherapy tub. But, seriously they were good!
My takeaway: Go to Evangeline. Just don’t book a spa treatment after your meal. You’ll be glad you indulged.
IF YOU GO
- Evangeline, Calistoga, California
- Visit Calistoga, Napa Valley
About the author:
Penny Sadler writes travel, style, food and wine articles, for both print and online publications. You may find her behind the scenes with a film crew or wandering through vineyards with her camera. When she’s not traveling, she’s planning her next trip. Follow her on Facebook or her blog, Adventures of a Carry-on.
Disclosure: Penny’s fabulous meal was hosted by Evangeline and Visit Calistoga but any opinions expressed in this post are her own. And she truly, truly loved it!