Julia's Kitchen Review
Brunch: Sunday 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Julia's Kitchen food
Julia's Kitchen aims for the French base of Julia Child but has the familiar Napa Valley emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and mixing of styles. It's really more Napa Valley than French. But in any case, we find Julia's Kitchen's food to be a bit on the uneven side. We really want to like the food, but there are some real hits and misses in there. Julia's Kitchen has had some head chef turnover; that might be part of the reason.
Our first time with just normal entrees was solid with a duck and I think porkchop entree (it was about 3 years ago) With a promising first visit, we returned a second time but had a very uneven tasting menu. There was a squid ink pasta which looked cool but was surprisingly bland overall. It felt like it was more of a novelty than an actual dish. The same tasting menu gave us churros with an orange marmalade which weren't even that good as churros go. The highlight of that tasting menu was a wonderful pork belly which was sweet and tangy with a crisp exterior before you got into the fatty goodness. It was about on par with the pork belly at Redd which is one of our favorite appetizers in the area. Hit and miss.
For another tasting menu, we had an almond dusted petrale sole. The cauliflower puree and complementary pieces were fine, but the sole itself was under-seasoned. Then again, they served a nice sauteed dayboat scallop with a parsnip puree and garden citrus with an orange jus which was a nice combination. Sweet with the scallops and parsnip puree, and sour with the garden citrus. Another time they had a nice pan seared niman ranch ribeye which was just fine with its potato puree and mushrooms, but I couldn't get over their tempura asparagus addition. If you're going to call it tempura asparagus, then make it a real tempura fry. Don't just toss a rather sadly battered asparagus on there and pass it off as tempura. On the other hand, they had a really nice seared Sonoma foie gras with a strawberry gastrique and caramelized fennel. For dessert, we had a pavlova which was a crispy meringue lemon-lime cream and citrus salad sauce which I thought was way too tart and acidic. Then again, my wife liked it.
My suggestion would be that if you're going to Julia's Kitchen, stick with the heavier proteins and avoid the tasting menu. I think they do reasonably well there, and the dishes are priced about right (well, by Napa Valley standards anyway...) But there just isn't any way to justify their $300-$400 tasting menus (for 2 people with a wine pairing) when you compare them to other similar tasting menus in Napa Valley.
Julia's Kitchen setting and service
Julia's Kitchen sits in the Copia, which is a non-profit set up by Robert Mondavi to highlight the area and educate folks about wine and food. This is a plus if you want to roam around the pretty surroundings of the Copia, take in a wine making class, attend a small concert, etc. There's also the Oxbow Market which has a lot of tasty things to do. The Copia has been losing money for a while because it wasn't strong enough of a draw on its own, but the Oxbow Market IS a strong enough draw on its own and presumably the Copia has benefited a lot more from Oxbow than vice-versa. On Saturday mornings, there's also the Napa Farmer's Market in the Copia parking lot (used to be across the street).
As for the restaurant itself, it has a large, open seating area that aims for a modern Napa Valley earthy look. The kitchen area is easily visible from the dining area in a setup similar to Tuscany's. The service has always been fine at Julia's Kitchen.
Price of our meal
6 course tasting menu and wine pairing w/ tax & tip: $400 ($100 without wine per person. $160 with wine pairing)
1 appetizer, 2 entrees, 1 dessert w/ tax & tip: $134
4 course tasting menu and wine pairing with tax & tip: $275
Other Julia's Kitchen reviews and links
- Fork and Bottle review
- TripAdvisor reviews
- Yelp reviews
- Chowhound discussion
- Old San Francisco Chronicle review (2002)
- Somebody who liked JK's tasting menu