Archive for Coles Chop House


Posted in Cole's Chop House (Napa) with tags , , , , on October 18, 2010 by ballymote

When planning for the trip I had left a couple of nights free for some spontaneous dinner plans. As the date for departure drew closer I figured that Gerry B. who had not yet made any specific choices would be craving a good steak on a s Sunday evening so I sort of steered him toward the best place for steaks in wine country. Cole’s Chop House is located in downtown Napa and is one of two restaurants (Celadon) owned by Chef Greg Cole. We drove over from Sonoma after a long day of driving. We had driven from San Francisco in the morning for breakfast in Tiburon and then after checking into our Sonoma hotel, continued up to Santa Rosa for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Suffice to say, we were all hungry. Our dinner was delayed slightly when our GPS, which had been accurately guiding us into Napa announced “you are now arriving at destination on right”. We had forgotten to tell the geographical wizard machine that we wanted to EAT…..not SHOP! Fortunately, the Cole’s we were looking for was only a block away from this culinary imposter.

Cole’s Chop House was bustling on this Sunday evening as the hostess led us to a nice round table. We decided to start off with a round of  martinis as we studied the menu and although I can’t tell you what martini everyone had I can say they were all good and we enjoyed them immensely. I think we were all focused on the steaks as there would be little sense in choosing anything else in a place widely known for its top shelf meats.

We needed something big and bold for our wines and we chose the 2006 Chateau Montelena, Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2007 Filus Reserve Malbec, Mendoza Argentina. Ironically, we would be visiting Chateau Montelena the very next day. Both wines were big enough to do justice to our steaks.

We did have a little variety in our appetizers as a couple of us chose the classic Wedge of iceburg lettuce, cherry tomatoes and Maytag blue cheese dressing. This is a salad that is difficult to screw up and Cole’s didn’t screw it up. Carol B. had the Lobster and Shrimp Bisque in a Puff Pastry and she thought it was good while Joe B. selected the Heirloom Tomato Salad.

Our steak choices were either the 10 oz. filet on the left or the Bone-in Rib Eye on the right. We ordered some sides for the table including Creamed Spinach, Baked Potato and Mushroom Caps. Here is how my plate looked just prior to my devouring every morsel. The steaks were done to perfection and the side dishes just completed the meal. I think all of us really enjoyed the experience at Cole’s Chop House. One of the reasons the meal was so enjoyable was the service.

Our guy, Mike, was the consummate professional. He attended to our every need without being intrusive. As we were finishing our dessert we began asking him some questions about himself and he really opened up and was charming and entertaining. We even mentioned that learning some things about him added to our dining experience and he offered that “many diners don’t want to know anything or hear anything from me and it’s important I not offer anything but good service unless the customer indicates that preference”. Two weeks later, Joe B. is still bringing up Mike’s professionalism and comparing each new server we have with the standard set by Mike at Cole’s.

We concluded our feast with a couple of desserts. On the left, the Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee and on the right, the winner and still champion, the Warm Chocolate Brownie with Caramel Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. Too bad the Friendly’s chain already coined the name “Happy Endings” for their desserts because these two were just that. Prices at Cole’s are pretty reasonable considering the quality and quantity of food and it was a great choice of eating place for our first night in Wine Country.


Posted in Info on Wine, Pre-Trip Update #5 (Final) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by ballymote

A trip that we began planning over a year ago is now just a few short days away. The research is over, the reservations have been made, dinners arranged and winery appointments scheduled. I have always believed that much of the enjoyment of travel was in the planning and this was certainly no exception. I have had a blast during every phase of the research process. With hundreds of great wineries in Napa and Sonoma to choose from it is no easy process to come up with the very few we will have time to visit during our week. I’ve tried to concentrate not just on places with great wine, but more importantly, places with great people. 


We arrive in San Francisco on Saturday morning and after a full day tour of the city we will be dining at Rue Lepic on Nob Hill. On Sunday morning we will make our way to Sonoma, stopping for breakfast in Tiburon and checking into the Renaissance Lodge at Sonoma, our home for the week. After freshening up we plan on driving to Santa Rosa for the final day of the annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair, and after a healthy sampling of the wines competing for medals at the fair it will be time for dinner at Cole’s Chop House in Napa. Next Saturday, after making our way back to San Francisco, we will tour Alcatraz and enjoy dinner at Izzy’s Steaks and Chops before four of us head for the airport and our flight back home. Gerry and JoAnn will remain in the city by the bay for another 3 days.

Monday thru Friday will be our days for wine visits. It’s an exciting time of the year in Wine Country as the harvest is taking place in many of the areas we will visit. Here is  what our week may look like. Not all of these are booked or will take place, but it’s a nice outline of what the week may look like. Thanks,Gerry, for putting this together:   

Monday, October 04, 2010            8:45 AM      Lv Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

                    40 miles ~60 mins to   10:00 AM    EMH Wines, 25 Rosedale Rd, Calistoga

Travel         02 miles ~05 mins to   12:00 PM     Vincent Arroyo, 2361 Greenwood,Calistoga

111 miles     04 miles ~10 mins to   2:00 PM       Chateau Montelena, 1429 Tubbs Ln, Calistoga

167 mins     07 miles ~12 mins to   3:30 PM       Larkmead, 1100 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga

                    36 miles ~48 mins to   5:30 PM       Ar Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

Wineries                                          7:00 PM       Lv Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

Visited         22 miles ~32 mins to   8:00 PM       Dinner at Ad Hoc, 6476 Washington St,

    4                                                                      Yountville


Tuesday, October 05, 2010            10:00 AM    Lv Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

                    28 miles ~40 mins to   11:00 AM    Alpha-Omega,1155 Mee Lans, Rutherford

Travel         22 miles ~31 mins to   12:30 PM     Chalk Hill, 10300 Chalk Hill, Healdsburg

127 miles     17 miles ~25 mins to   1:30 PM       Mayo Family Tasting Room, 9200 Sonoma

202 mins                                                             Hwy, Kenwood-7 course wine/food pairing

                    16 miles ~25 mins to   3:00 PM       Swanson, 1271 Manley Lane, St Helena

Wineries      21 miles ~35 mins to   4:00 PM       Ravenswood, 18701 Gehricke Rd, Sonoma

Visited         03 miles ~06 mins to   5:00 PM       Ar Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

    5                                                  6:00 PM       Lv Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

                    20 miles ~40 mins to   7:00 PM       Dinner at Bottega, 6525 Washington St,                                                                       Yountville



Wednesday, October 06, 2010       9:00 AM      Lv Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

                    24 miles ~36 mins to   10:00 AM    Kapcsandy Winery, 1001 State Lane, Napa

Travel         07 miles ~12 mins to   12:00 PM     Robert Baiale, 4038 Big Ranch Rd, Napa

57 miles       08 miles ~15 mins to   1:30 PM       Truchard Vineyards, 3234 Old Sonoma Rd,

93 mins                                                               Napa

                    07 miles ~13 mins to   3:00 PM       Del Dotto Cave Tour, 1055 Atlas Peak Rd, Wineries                                                   Napa

Visited         11 miles ~17 mins to   5:30 PM       Ar Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

    4                                                  7:30 PM       Dinner at Sonoma Renaissance Resort



Thursday, October 07, 2010          9:00 AM      Lv Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

                    42 miles ~65 mins to   10:15 AM    Bodega Bay

Travel         11 miles ~15 mins to   12:30 PM     Jenner

171 miles     16 miles ~30 mins to   2:30 PM       Armstrong St Prk, 17000 Armstrong

260 mins                                                             Woods Road, Guerneville

                    19 miles ~36 mins to   4:30 PM       Thumbprint, 36 North St, Healdsburg

Wineries      40 miles ~60 mins to   6:30 PM       Ar Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

Visited                                             8:00 PM       Lv Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

    1              43 miles ~54 mins to   9:00 PM       Dinner at Cyrus, 29 North St, Healdsburg



Friday, October 08, 2010               8:00 AM      Lv Sonoma Renaissance, 1325 Broadway

                    29 miles ~39 mins to   9:30 AM      Whitehall Lane, 1563 St Helena Hwy S,

Travel                                                                 St Helena

63 miles       08 miles ~15 mins to   11:30 AM    Paraduxx, 7257 Silverado Trail, Napa

93 mins       02 miles ~03 mins to   1:30 PM       Silverado Vineyards, 6121 Silverado

                                                                            Trail, Napa

Wineries      01 miles ~02 mins to   3:30 PM       Hartwell, 5795 Silverado Trail, Napa

Visited         23 miles ~34 mins to   6:00 PM       Dinner in Sonoma

I will certainly be busy writing restaurant and winery reviews in the days and weeks following this trip and I am looking forward to that challenge. My wife, Kathy, and myself are fortunate to be making this trip with four of our absolutely favorite people, Joe and Carol B. and Gerry and JoAnn B. The weather looks good with warm days and cool nights and we are psyched for a fabulous trip!