Napa Valley Grille

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Napa Valley Grille (NVG) invited me to do a critique of their restaurant for my clean eating blog.  In Westwood Napa Valley Grille is a favorite of many of my clients so I was curious as to what they were up to.

Previously, I had not thought of NVG as a “clean-eating” restaurant but two months ago they started their summer menu featuring locally grown ingredients from Southern California Farmer’s Markets including their produce, cheeses, and protein sources.

I reviewed their menu before going and selected items to sample with the thought of creating healthy options for the most discerning of diners. 

Here’s what I chose:

Chilled Tomato Gazpacho with Avocado Yogurt
Artisan Cheeses
Kale chopped salad with quinoa, toasted almonds, Parmesan cheese and golden raisins
Asparagus salad with soft poached eggs and butter lettuce
Wild Alaskan Halibut with sweet corn “succotash” salad
NVG Burger with smoked cheese
Pomegranate Green Tea to drink

I would have to say their hospitality and attention to detail gets an A plus.  From the moment of walking into their beautiful space attention is applied to every detail.   If you looked around patrons seemed happy and engaged in conversation and enjoying their food.  The restaurant certainly lends itself to intimate conversation and privacy, something hard to get on the Westside.  Everything is clean and in order.

Chef Joseph Gillard has started a non-profit Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to help support families getting organic produce from local farmers for $5 per week – something unheard of and certainly supports helping families find a way to lower their intake of processed foods and increase fruits and vegetables.

He was recently on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution as one of the chefs committed to helping create programs for healthy school lunches.

Okay – on to tasting.  I was trying to think a bit outside the box of what I like and stick to my guidelines. 

I asked ahead of time and learned that produce is organic – check.  Meat is grass-fed (versus corn-fed) – check.  Only the Halibut is wild so that is the one I needed to try.  Chicken is not Jidori or pastured so chicken dishes were out.

One thing I did learn while there is NVG will customize any food item or menu selection to accommodate food preferences, sensitivities or allergies.  If you need a gluten-free alternative they will happily provide that change.

The chilled gazpacho – I don’t like gazpacho, feel it tastes too oniony, and have never ordered it in a restaurant.  A little something or someone (Jeffrey) was telling me to try this one so I did. 

This was the surprise of the day – I LOVED it and found myself wanting to eat it throughout the meal.  It was refreshing, filling (a great way to take the edge off your appetite and avoid the bread), and paired with the avocado yogurt was a 10.  There was no onion taste – only the flavor of wonderfully spiced tomatoes.

The cheese plate was all artisan or grass-fed cheeses, which are those I recommend.  Eating cheese from these sources is high in omega 3’s (anti-inflammatory) versus cheese from corn-fed cows that is high in omega 6’s (pro-inflammatory) so this was a no-brainer.  If you want a selection of great cheeses this is an entrée, appetizer or dessert to share.

If you are watching your carbs you will need to avoid the plate of raisin bread or homemade digestive biscuits they bring to go along with it.  I sampled one of the biscuits, which were a little bigger than the size of a quarter, and it is worth the bite since they make them in house but be aware they are addicting.

IMG_0831Asparagus Salad w Egg

Of the salads my favorite was the asparagus with a poached egg – the egg was perfectly poached (they use a special thermometer which creates a soft yolk easy to cut without the mess) and the asparagus was the right consistency – al dente and no mush and very satisfying.  It was good enough to eat without the dressing it came with which was tasty but I really preferred it alone. 

IMG_0836Kale Salad

The kale salad had a nice crunch and if you don’t like Kale you would like this salad since it comes as a mixed chopped salad with interesting ingredients.

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 Halibut

My second favorite of the day was the wild halibut with the succotash salad.  The Halibut was light, grilled to perfection and rested on a bed of vegetables that included raw organic corn, peppers and fava beans.  This is great low carb dish since the mix of corn and beans was light and the right balance.

The NVG burger was a bit salty for my taste but this contender ranks high in presentation and you can order it with a salad instead of the fries.

They do carry my all time favorite bottled teas from Republic of Tea.  If you are ever out to eat this tea is a special treat – the flavor, bottle shape and taste are amazing and it contains no sweeteners or additives.

My assessment – NVG has plenty of clean eating choices and as usual you just need to pick and choose what works for your appetite, taste and individual diet needs.  I personally would order the gazpacho and Halibut any day.

My rating system is below and these are the numbers.

  1. Clean Food (sampled) – 4.5
  2. Clean Space – 4.75
  3. Friendly Staff – 5
  4. Balanced proportions of protein/carb/fat – 4.25
  5. No Food Hangover – 4

 NVG got a 4.5/5