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Fall/Winter 2009

Delicious Deals

From truly cheap eats to exquisitely high-value dining

By Sue Elliott

When business gets tough, restaurateurs get creative, coming up with delicious high-value offers to entice diners through the door. We’ve included many of the best deals here along with a handful of little-known, always-cheap eats.

Angèle Restaurant & Bar
The deal: Classics, $18–$20.
When: Sun.–Thurs. 5–9 p.m.
What you get: A hearty, traditional French one-dish meal. Current Classics include La Chaudrée fish stew on Sundays, ratatouille on Mondays, choucroute alsacienne on Tuesdays, coq au vin on Wednesdays, and chef’s choice on Thursdays. The ingredients are fresh, the preparations meticulous.
Other deals: Half-off wines and beers that pair nicely with the Classics. That means Chardonnay on Sundays, “other reds” (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Côte Rôtie, Beaujolais, Crozes-Hermitage) on Mondays, beers on Tuesdays, and Pinot Noir on Wednesdays. Every bottle on the wine list is half-price on Thursdays.
Where: 540 Main St., Napa, (707) 252-8115, angelerestaurant.com.

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ
The deal: Pony Express Lunch, $10.
When: Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
What you get: Fast and tasty. Choose any sandwich (pulled pork, beef brisket, shredded barbecued chicken, grilled veggies, or The Reubenesque), plus any side (such as fresh, crispy cole slaw), and any nonalcoholic beverage. The delicious meal is served in 10 minutes or less, along with three barbecue sauces.
Other Deals: Happy hour, weekdays 3–6 p.m. The $5 rib and cole slaw appetizer includes three Smokin’ St. Louis Cut ribs. The $10 BBQ sampler is enough for a meal, with brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and slaw.
Where: 975 First St., Napa, (707) 226-3976, bountyhunterwinebar.com.

Brix
The deal: Happy hour half-price bar menu.
When: Mon.–Fri. 4–6 p.m.
What you get: Delicious values, such as a 12-inch fennel sausage pizza or a seasonal, addictive corn and bacon pizza for $7.50; three perfectly herbed ground-chicken sliders on focaccia for $6; Beau Soleil oysters on the half shell for $1 apiece; crispy fried green beans for $4.25; and a Niman Ranch cheeseburger on a housemade potato bun with steak fries for $7.50.
Other deals: Sunday buffet brunch, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m., $32.95, including a seafood bar on the patio, with Beau Soleil oysters and Laughing Bird shrimp cocktail, plus carved beef filet, sourdough pancakes, and petite desserts. Best of all, nothing languishes in chafing dishes; small quantities are prepared fresh.
Where: 7377 St. Helena Hwy., Yountville, (707) 944-2749, brix.com.

Buster’s Southern BBQ
The deal: The regular menu, $7.50–$10.50.
When: Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m.
What you get: Substantial sandwiches and loaded platters at a no-frills barbecue shack. The freshly ’cued meats are sliced to order. Sandwich choices include tri-tip, chicken breast, and hot links for $7.50; pork loin for $8.50. Each is served on garlic toast, slathered with hot or mild barbecue sauce, and accompanied by a side (the baked beans are excellent). For a few dollars more, you can step up to a supper with more meat, plus two sides and garlic toast.
Where: 1207 Foothill Blvd., Calistoga, (707) 942-5605, busterssouthernbbq.com.

Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen
The deal: End of Work Week Lunch, $25.
When: Fri. 12–2:30 p.m.
What you get: A beautifully plated three-course meal. It starts with a salad of organic Sonoma County greens or chilled carrot soup with spicy shrimp ceviche. For the main course, there’s crispy dark-meat chicken confit with poached Puma Springs egg, frisée, and wild roccola or house-made potato cavatelli pasta with oven-roasted tomato vinaigrette, summer squash, and Pecorino. For dessert, a bittersweet chocolate brownie sundae, or funnel cake with roasted strawberries and mascarpone.
Other deals: The Sonoma Neighbor Menu, a three-course prix fixe of wild mushroom velouté, crispy chicken confit, and a golden raspberry tart, for $34, Mon.–Thurs. 5:30–9:30 p.m.
Where: 317 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, (707) 431-0330, charliepalmer.com.

De Schmire
The deal: Mussels appetizer, $7.
When: On the regular menu (seasonal), Wed.–Sun. from 5:30 p.m.
What you get: Mussels that are delivered daily before the restaurant opens. They come from Tomales Bay (a half-hour away), so they couldn’t be much fresher. And, they’re perfectly cooked—tender and flavorful after being steamed in a garlic lemon cream sauce. The big bowlful is plenty for two people or more to share as an appetizer, or it could be a light meal, perhaps with the warm brownie à la mode for dessert ($7).
Where: 304 Bodega Ave., Petaluma, (707) 762-1901, deschmirerestaurant.com.

The Fremont Diner
The deal: The regular menu, breakfast from $4.95, lunch/dinner from $3.
When: Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m.–5 p.m.
What you get: Satisfying, delicious, seasonal eats in a likeable kitschy, country atmosphere, with a small counter where you can watch the chefs. The Country Meat Platter for $10 is an incredible value, with dry-aged Berkshire pork, chorizo, bresaola and sopressata, grapefruit sections, marinated cherries, pickled raisins, and Vella Jack cheese sprinkled with preserved summer truffles (seriously!). Also, try the $3 Niman Ranch ham on a biscuit and the $3 foot-long premium hot dog. At breakfast, the $6.95 Kitchen Sink boasts fried chicken, griddled ham, a fried egg, and sausage gravy on a cream biscuit.
Where: 2698 Fremont Dr. (Hwy. 121), Sonoma, (707) 938-7370.

Hog Island Oyster Co.
The deal: Happy hour $1 oysters.
When: Tues. and Wed. 5–7 p.m.
What you get: To watch them shuck your oysters at the horseshoe-shaped bar inside Oxbow Public Market. Oysters vary; they could be plump, meaty local Sweetwaters or briny/sweet Quilcenes from Washington. Tuesdays are packed, as that’s locals night at Oxbow.
Other deals: Bring in your receipt from a Tuesday or Wednesday happy hour, and get 12 Sweetwater oysters for $12 on Mondays and Thursdays.
Where: Oxbow Public Market, 610 First St., Napa, (707) 251-8113, hogislandoysters.com.

Press
The deal: Blue Plate Special, $10.
When: Sun., Wed., and Thurs. 5 p.m. until food runs out, bar only.
What you get: A hearty meal that changes daily. Recent offerings include chicken piccata, grilled fish tacos, meat lasagna, and Philly cheesesteak. Wednesday night is the busiest, as Press offers 50 percent off the entire wine list and free corkage.
Other deals: Sunday Supper, a three-course top-quality steak dinner (either a hand-cut filet mignon or American Kobe flatiron), for $55, including a great salad and dessert.
Where: 587 St. Helena Hwy. S., St. Helena, (707) 967-0550, presssthelena.com.

Restaurant Mirepoix
The deal: Three-course prix fixe, $26.
When: Tues.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 5–9 p.m.
What you get: A true fine-dining experience in a charming, intimate space. The prix fixe includes a salad, entrée, and either cheese or dessert, which change daily. Portions are smaller than regular dishes but plenty for a meal. A recent offering: stacked tomato and watermelon salad; perfectly roasted day boat scallops atop tomato confit, corn jalapeño polenta, Tuscan kale, and tomato water; and peach ice cream with exquisite house-made donuts.
Other deals: Daily specials. These larger entrées include duck confit on Wednesdays ($17), coq au vin on Thursdays ($18), and cassoulet on Sundays ($22). The ever-changing wine list has amazing values from Sonoma, Napa, and France, with several bottles for $20 or less, and wines by the glass from $5.75.
Where: 275 Windsor River Rd., Windsor, (707) 838-0162, restaurantmirepoix.com.

Shiso
The deal: Happy hour, $3 sushi.
When: Every day except Sun. and holidays 4:30–6 p.m.
What you get: The exceptional-quality sushi hand rolls change daily at this modern Asian restaurant and sushi bar that clearly earned its Michelin recommendation. The ahi tuna poke is stunning, and the mind-bogglingly good yellowtail ceviche is made with lime and yuzu juice. Other $4 happy hour specials include Japanese-style guacamole with wonton chips and Asian-style BBQ wings with wasabi dipping sauce.
Where: 522 Broadway, Sonoma, (707) 933-9331, shisorestaurant.com.

Sonoma Meritage Martini & Oyster Bar
The deal: Caviar and Charbay Sampler, $15.
When: On the regular menu in fall and winter, 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., until 9:30 p.m. Fri.–Sat., closed Tues.
What you get: Three kinds of Tsar Nicoulai sustainably farmed caviar paired with local handcrafted Charbay vodka—perhaps green tea vodka with wasabi caviar or blood orange vodka with beet saffron roe. The pleasing presentation features three half-full shot glasses topped with a slice of cucumber and caviar so you can sip and savor them together.
Other deals: Happy hour, 4–6 p.m. daily, with half-price raw oysters.
Where: 165 W. Napa St. (Hwy. 12), Sonoma, (707) 938-9430, sonomameritage.com.

Stark’s Steakhouse
The deal: Happy hour $1.50 and $3.50 bar food.
When: Mon.–Fri. 3–6 p.m.
What you get: Flavorful bar food at surprising prices, from this sister property to Willi’s Wine Bar. For $1.50 each, you can get savory tuna tartar mini tacos with pine nuts and truffled miso, delicious meat loaf sliders with Fontina cheese and caramelized onions, chilled jumbo shrimp, and truffled fries. Larger appetizers ($3.50) include Moroccan chicken meatballs, spicy hummus with fried Indian bread, and fun cheddar cheese fondue with potato wedges.
Other deals: The West End Menu, a daily three-course comfort food prix fixe, including meat loaf on Mondays ($25); liver, bacon, and onions on Thursdays ($25); and prime rib on Saturdays ($35), each with soup or salad and dessert.
Where: 521 Adams St., Santa Rosa, (707) 546-5100, starkssteakhouse.com.

Tra Vigne
The deal: Pinot & Cioppino Night, $19.95.
When: Wed. 5–9 p.m.
What you get: An ample butter lettuce salad with shaved Piave cheese, perfectly dressed with a Meyer lemon citronette to start. Then, a fabulous fish stew, with Dungeness crab, mussels, clams, prawns, calamari, and locally caught fish in a San Marzano tomato zuppetta. Plus, you get a side of grilled asparagus, roasted potatoes, and garlic-rubbed bruschetta. Add a small carafe of Pinot for $10.
Where: 1050 Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena, (707) 963-4444, travignerestaurant.com.

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