I was pleasantly surprised by a recent lunch at Mustards Grill in Napa Valley. Three of us dropped by on a Sunday without reservations. I had low expectations, never having read a review of the restaurant.
The wait was about an hour but the staff was very accommodating and agreed to call us at a nearby winery when our table was ready. We were seated about 50 minutes later. The decor is nothing special but the restaurant had a lively buzz. It was a very hot day in Napa so I asked the staff to recommend a refreshing drink. They brought me an excellent mojito made with absolutely fresh mint. Perfect to combat the heat.
Our first appetizer was onion rings. They had been sliced almost paper-thin, lightly battered, fried, and piled high on a dinner size plate. Plenty to share and served with a spicy house-made ketchup. We also ordered lemongrass pork lettuce wraps; basically a plate with 4 arranged leaves of lettuce, each topped with shredded vegies and a generous hunk of pork. We rolled the lettuce around the toppings and dipped into nuoc cham. The pork was about half an inch thick, very tender and well marinated.
One main dish was an almond-mustard coated salmon served atop garlic mash and a medley of green and yellow string beans. A good sized thick portion of salmon was perfectly cooked. The crisp crust provided a nice counterpoint to the salmon without overwhelming it. The string beans were freshly picked and cooked al dente. Very nice dish.
We also had hanger steak. I am sorry to say that I was out-voted when it came to doneness. Me: medium rare. Two of them: medium to medium well. Democracy in action. Drastically over cooked as it was, the steak was still tender which tells me it was a decent piece of meat. The steak was served with caramelized onions and fries and an incredibly delicious watercress dipping sauce. The sauce was a freshly made mayonnaise with lots of lemon and enough watercress to add a peppery bite. I couldn't resist eating it plain with a spoon.
When we left the restaurant we walked through the kitchen garden, a lovely series of raised beds. It was obvious why certain ingredients, the mint and string beans, tasted so fresh.
Overall, a very nice lunch in Napa and reasonably priced.