Angele - Napa, California
I've been several times now to Angèle since I moved here less than a year ago. It's something of a favored lunchtime café of the local Napa wine trade. In the heart of downtown Napa, it really couldn't be more central in terms of location, and yet its position on the river and al fresco seating allow us workaday locals a chance to duck out for a bucolic escape from our computer screens, if only for a couple of business-lunch hours. On this occasion I was joined by a famed critic from a rival publication, which would have perhaps got tongues wagging were anyone to know who the heck I was.
The menu at Angèle features classic French bistro fare solidly executed with well sourced ingredients and offered at affordable prices. Combined with the oo-la-la très Français ambience, it's a formula that keeps the wine cognoscenti coming back again and again. I like the food, but I've yet to be overly blown-away by anything on the wine list here. Good thing I'm relatively undemanding when it comes to light, easy-breezy lunchtime tipples, and here's where the list comes into its own. Having just finished my New Zealand report where I had recently reviewed the wines of Clos Henri in Marlborough, I thought I'd check-in on what the parent winery was up to and ordered the 2014 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes for us. This Sancerre was, unsurprisingly, a lot more understated than its Kiwi sibling, with soft-spoken citrus and apple characters beneath the lemongrass, fresh straw and chalk-dust notes. Indeed, it was well-chosen for this uncomplicated list as a suitable accompaniment to Angèle's delicious salad mains.
I went on my companion's recommendation for a shared starter, which was a twist on that Retro-American classic that seems to be on just about every menu in Napa: deviled eggs. These had a deep-fried outer coating, kind of like Scotch eggs from the UK but without the sausage meat. Stuffed with decadently rich "Crème Fraïche Mousse", I liked how a morsel of pickled jalapeño on top gave this rather heavy starter a lively lift. Then I went for my staple salad main; this time it was a tasty Salade Lyonnaise with a perfectly poached egg, salty lardons and puy lentils. It was a great match with the Sancerre and that sunny, spring afternoon in Napa town with good company.
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