Hours: Tue - Sat 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm. (dinner) Friday - Sat : 11:30 am to 2:30 pm (lunch)
Update: ACK! According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Pilar has shut down because of the construction in the area and the building apparently needs some work. Until then, Pilar Sanchez will be working with Donna Scala over at Bistro Don Giovanni and will be opening a new restaurant later.
For some reason, every time we go, we always end up starting with the mushroom toast which is a little odd as we like to try different things at a restaurant. It's a crostini with goat cheese and a medley of mushrooms (crimini, hen of the wood, and clam shell). It's just really tasty, and we'll even partition off some of the mushroom and goat cheese topping away from the crostini to go with the house bread so we can prolong the experience a bit. It's sad; we're weak.
For entrees, probably our favorite dish at Pilar is the crispy duck confit that is in a ragout and Cabernet sauce. If you are duck fan, this should be high on your list. On the downside, during that same visit, I had a Maverick Ranch pork chop with fingerling potatoes and root medley which, although it tasted fine, was a tad overcooked by the time it reached my table as the wait was a little bit on the long side. We've also had the roasted chicken breast with mushrooms in a creamy risotto (mascarpone, parmesan, and butter, mmm.....) which was also very good. Every time we eat at Pilar, we frequently wonder why we don't eat there more often, but it's hard work working our way through the restaurants in the area. :)
Our first time there, we had a soufflé that was too eggy for my wife's tastes (I thought it was fine). Since Pilar tries hard to serve seasonal dishes (although this is becoming less of a distinguishing feature in the Valley), the soufflés will be of various types (coconut, strawberry, etc.) during the year. The soufflés are supposed to be something of a house specialty, but I haven't been able to convince my wife to give it another try yet. But the other desserts that we've had in terms of fruit tarts have usually been pretty good. You should definitely leave room.
Pillar setting and service
From the outside, you can barely see Pilar is there. Part of that is because it's a small restaurant. The other part of it is that It sits near the corner of a downtown building that doesn't have much in the way of good neighbors to draw traffic. Although Zuzu and Peking Garden draw attention to each other on the other end of the building, Pilar sits next to a boarded up bar which in turn is next to a chop suey take-out place that somehow stays in business year after year despite never seeming to have much business. I have to imagine that locals keep Pilar going as I can't imagine any tourist can actually see it.
Pilar say it's 49 seats, but it feels smaller than that. The bar seems to take up a lot of the precious space. It's one of those "I hope you like your neighbor" type of seating arrangements. However, the vibe in Pilar is different from a lot of other Napa Valley restaurants. It's not quiet when it's full, but it's not as loud as you would think with its size even when it's fairly full. Service is fine. Sometimes, however, the food takes a bit too much time to get out depending on how full it is. Their kitchen is tiny too so it's not totally unexpected. When you the size of the restaurant, you get a good idea as to why they have a fairly limited menu.
The chefs and owners, Didier Lenders and Pilar Sanchez , also give cooking classes. We keep on meaning to go, but keep on forgetting. They're at the first Sat of each month at 11:30 am so If you're touring Napa Valley around that time, it might make for a fun afternoon. I'm surprised more restaurants don't do this.
Price of our meal
Appetizer, 2 entrees, 2 glasses of wine, 1 dessert = $95.
For the quality of the food, Pilar is pretty reasonably priced. Everytime we eat there, we think that we should eat here more often.