Why I wish Tyler Florence was my friend

While I don’t watch Food Network as much as I used too [or SportsCenter for that fact but that's neither here nor there] I do usually stop to watch just about anything Tyler Florence is in because his recipes have been on point. Plus, I think he’s kind of cute. There. I said it. And I may or may not have had a dream in which I was actually friends with him  where he may or may not have cooked me lunch in his house.

I may or may not have woken up slightly disappointed after realizing it was just a dream.

Anywho, so I’m a fan and I was excited to hear he that he moved to Mill Valley and was opening a restaurant in Downtown Napa [I'm still itching to check out Wayfare Tavern in the City - any takers?]. I want to say that I was anxiously awaiting the opening but in reality I just plain forgot it was even happening. You know how long it takes for restaurants to be built? A while, plus, I don’t think they ever open on time in the first place so of course I was going to forget about all the exciting news swirling around.

But then my dear friend Christina from way back in the day [seriously, since the fourth grade!], writer of East Bay Dish and my partner in gastronomical crime, reminded me of it when we made plans to hit up Bouchon Bakery so she could experience the joy that are Thomas Keller’s macarons. Afterwards, we jetted down to Downtown Napa to check out Rotisserie & Wine. We didn’t have reservations and crazily braved a two-hour wait for a table by wandering around the block a few times and sitting outside on the patio [they had these cool rockers PLUS throw blankets to keep warm. Snazzy].

Once we were seated, we looked through the menu and began to plot our march  as we munched on the complimentary cornbread sticks with honey butter:

We started with the cheese puff and scrapple. The cheese puff was filled with a bacon mornay sauce of awesomeness, aged vella jack cheese and chives. I waffled a bit on ordering on but am so glad I did because there was no way we would have been able to share one of those things. One bite and we were both sold [we even scraped up the bits of cheese and bacon on the serving plank]. I can’t begin to describe the amazingness of that little puff but to say that I would go back just for that appetizer. If you go, order one for everyone. Seriously, even one is not enough. That little puff made me fall in love with Tyler all over again.

Cheese puff of bacony AWESOMENESS!

The scrapple with smoked honey mustard came next. Christina ordered this out of sheer curiosity. I wasn’t too hot on the idea having seen it featured on Food Network and knowing it was basically meat scraps smooched together. Our server even explained it like being almost like a hot dog. Uh, okay. After some convincing, I sampled a bit and promptly offered the rest of Christina. I was not a fan. It was kind of mushy and I’m not a big fan of mushy textures. The smoked honey mustard was light on the honey and heavy on the mustard and seeing how I’m also not a fan of the mustard, well, I think this dish was doomed from the start for me.

After a small break, our entree arrived: beef and bones (prime rib eye with bone marrow, yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce), Hudson Ranch collards, and Arbuckle grits draped with lardo and “baked” peanuts. The collards were pretty good but they did taste very vinegary [they are dressed with hot pepper vinegar], the grits were absolutely divine and buttery, practically melting in your mouth though I did not enjoy the baked peanuts that are included. I just felt that they kind of took away from the smoothness of the grits. The beef & bones were delicious, well, the beef was delicious. I wasn’t so much a fan of the bone; the marrow was too mushy for me [though I did love the crispy crust on top]. The prime rib eye was cooked perfectly [the steak knife was seriously heavy! It felt like a kitchen knife] and the Yorkshire pudding was nice and airy. I wanted to eat both halves but alas, I had to share.

Overall, the food was pretty good. The service was really good, which was shocking considering it had just opened. I appreciated how my water glass never reached half empty since someone was always there to refill it, though there was some confusion about splitting our bill at the end of the evening. I would definitely go back to try something new and, of course, get another cheese puff. Mmmm, cheese puff.

The next day, I tweeted my love for the cheese puff and was excited to see this:

I die. Seriously Tyler, let’s be friends.

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