About steve

Steve Alcorn is the CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a company that designs products used in nearly all of the world’s theme parks. He is the author of many books, including historical fiction, romance, young adult novels, and many non-fiction books including How to Fix Your Novel, Building a Better Mouse and Theme Park Design. During the past decade he has helped more than 30,000 aspiring authors structure their novels through the online learning programs of 2000 colleges and universities worldwide. Learn more at writingacademy.com

Bistro Jeanty

Crème Brûlée au Chocolat
Salmon carpaccio
Smoked trout
Lobster bisque
French onion Soupe a l’Oignon
Patio
Duck liver mousse
Caviar
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

We had the most delightful Christmas lunch here. The place was packed, and I can see why–If we lived nearby it would become out Christmas tradition.

This is an absolutely authentic French bistro, right down to the jars of mustard on the table, and the basket of wonderfully fresh and crusty baguette slices.

We started with the Sturgeon caviar, which was served with all the proper accompaniments, including blinis, and the duck liver mousse, which was smooth and creamy, and perfect with the spicy mustard.

Both the lobster bisque and French onion soup were excellent. The bisque was a bit thinner style than usual, but just as flavorful without being so rich as to seem like a sauce. The French onion soup was one of the best I’ve had, with the perfect amount of cheese seared onto the top, and a balanced, flavorful base.

My wife enjoyed her smoked salmon carpaccio. The smoked trout wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, begin more like smoke salmon, so just keep that in mind if you are expecting a more traditional dried preparation.

Our waiter encouraged us to try his favorite creme brulee, and it was good advice. There is a layer of chocolate mousse somehow sandwiched between the nicely burnt sugar crust and the creamy creme brulee. I have no idea how they did that!

The wine list is excellent, and even more impressive is the backside of the menu, with many, many wines offered in 4 different pour sizes.

We sat outside in the patio, which was closed in and heated for the winter, and it was lovely, and quieter than the bustling interior.

All the wait staff were very efficient and friendly. Definitely a great choice for our Christmas celebration!

Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington St
Yountville, CA
94599
(707) 944-0103
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bistro-jeanty-yountville

SingleThread Farm – Restaurant- Inn

Check presentation
Sorbet
Wagashi (course 11 of 11 courses)
Sonoma Grains (course 8 of 11 courses)
Duclair Duck (course 7 of 11 courses)
Bone broth for Ume Medai (course 6/ of 11 courses)
Ume Medai (course 6 of 11 courses)
Smoked Salmon with Steelhead Roe (our favorite course) (course 4 of 11 courses)
Duck Liver Parfait (course 5 of 11 courses)
Interior
Koginut squash (second half of course 3 of 11 courses)
Koginut squash (first half of course 3 of 11 courses)
Half of the second course of 11 courses, mussels and uni.
Second half of the first course (of 11 courses)!
Just half of the first course (of 11 courses)!
Kitchen
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

Phenomenal experience on Christmas Eve. Eleven courses (more like 40 if you count every item) and it’s hard to pick a favorite. But it’s my job, so I’ll make the call: the smoked salmon covered in steelhead roe!

But seriously, everthing was superb, and the service was that perfect balance of professionalism and friendliness that you rarely find accompanying elevated cuisine.

Although not inexpensive, I have to say that the dinner is very fairly priced.

The wine list has impressive breadth, and some depth, with stunning selections of the top wines, and stunning prices to match, but for those who invest some effort (I suggest a thorough perusal online before your visit) there are some gems here. A specific recommendation for chardonnay fans: 2015 Journeyman Chardonnay (complex, malolactic, good acid, touch of oak, apple, citrus, spice, caramel, honey, true expression of chardonnay fruit).

A really memorable dinner.

SingleThread Farm – Restaurant- Inn
131 North St
Healdsburg, CA
95448
(707) 723-4646
https://www.yelp.com/biz/singlethread-farm-restaurant-inn-healdsburg-7

Gott’s Roadside

Chili Cheese Fries, Impossible Cheeseburger
Exterior
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

Great historic roadside eatery from the 1940s, now occupied by a small local burger chain. Terrific chili fries, Impossible Burger, and some of the best onion rings I’ve had anywhere. Also a shout-out for the coffee shake! Sounds like a great 10am breakfast on Christmas Eve to me!

Gott’s Roadside
933 Main St
Saint Helena, CA
94574
(707) 963-3486
https://www.yelp.com/biz/gotts-roadside-saint-helena-2

Market

Tuna
Fried chicken
Potato soup
Exterior
Interior

***** (5 stars)

Charming service and ambiance are the highlights of this space right in the center of St. Helena. The brunch menu also offers lunch dishes such as fried chicken, and smaller plates such as tuna two ways. Both were good. But the highlights were the two soups, on creamay and one a curry broth base, both of which were superb.

The other highlight was the basket of complimentary muffins. These alone make it worth visiting at brunch!

Market
1347 Main St
Saint Helena, CA
94574
(707) 963-3799
https://www.yelp.com/biz/market-saint-helena-3

Goose & Gander

Downstairs bar
Orange tart
Fish and chips
Interior
Interior
Cheesesteak
Exterior

***** (5 stars)

This charming restaurant is located on a side street of St. Helena’s Main Street. The delightful space upstairs offers high beamed ceilings and an open kitchen, plus lots of duck hunting memorabilia. Downstairs is an atmospheric bar that also has table seating. And there is also lovely outdoor dining.

The menu offers elevated comfort food such as fish and chips, or cheesesteak sandwiches, both of which were good. The orange tart with kumquat marmalade was excellent.

The wine list is very extensive, with plenty of selections from around the world and a nice assortment of half bottles.

Service was very attentive and welcoming.

Goose & Gander
1245 Spring St
Saint Helena, CA
94574
(707) 967-8779
https://www.yelp.com/biz/goose-and-gander-saint-helena-2

The Restaurant At Meadowood

Interior
Foyer

**** (4 stars)

It’s a bit difficult to rate a restaurant based upon a special meal, and we dined on the final night of The Restaurant’s Twelve Days of Christmas 2019 event. On the other hand, the final night is when The Restaurant’s own chef, Christopher Kostow, is in charge, so one assumes the food is representative of the normal quality.

Unfortunately, that seemed to be all over the map. There were indeed some of the stunning courses you’d expect from a three-star Michelin, such as the trout roe, the oxheart carrot, and the sunchoke trifle. But there were also some notable misses, including the unappealing quail, tough pork collar, and many others.

The service made up for a lot of that. It included the kind of synchronized moves that Michelin raters seem to fawn over, but also was very gracious and welcoming, and apologetic for the long wait for our table (no doubt the result of it being the third seating of a completely new menu).

The setting is also sublime: a not-overdone graceful simplicity, and a remarkably good illusion of snowflakes falling outside, to complement the festive mood.

What to make of it? Hard to say without a repeat visit, but at $1000 for two (with wine) I’m not in a hurry to do so.

The Restaurant At Meadowood
900 Meadowood Ln
St. Helena, CA
94574
(707) 967-1205
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-restaurant-at-meadowood-st-helena

Acacia House by Chris Cosentino

Exterior
Brunch salmon
Brunch chilaquiles
Interior

**** (4 stars)

Nice modern space inside a venerable old house. Friendly and accommodating staff. We went for Saturday brunch. The smoked salmon was served with all the possible accompaniments, including a nice dill cream cheese. Chilaquiles were also very good. The highlight was the best margarita I’ve ever had, served chilled, with a salty foam.

Acacia House by Chris Cosentino
1915 Main St
Saint Helena, CA
94574
(707) 963-9004
https://www.yelp.com/biz/acacia-house-by-chris-cosentino-saint-helena

El Jardin Restaurant & Catering

Carnitas torta with salad
Appetizer combo
Exterior
Bar
Interior

***** (5 stars)

Really good family Mexican restaurant in a shopping center. The service is terrific and the food is good. The lunch carnitas torta was huge and came with a delicious salad option rather than rice and beans or fries. Great blue cheese dressing. The appetizer sampler is also a nice variety. Very reasonable.

El Jardin Restaurant & Catering
1119 S Main St
Manteca, CA
95337
(209) 825-8552
https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-jardin-restaurant-and-catering-manteca

Quail and Crane

Sashimi omakase
Interior

***** (5 stars)

Located in the Grand Hyatt at SFO, Quail and Crane is a dramatic two story space that offers a nice selection of sushi and Asian inspired hot dishes.

The sushi quality was excellent. We also tried the mussels, a generous serving in a lemon grass broth, accompanied by grilled sour dough.

Service was friendly, and pricing was reasonable given the upscale location. There’s a great view of the International terminal gates and taxi way across the street.

Quail and Crane
55 S McDonnell Rd
San Francisco, CA
94128
(650) 452-1234
https://www.yelp.com/biz/quail-and-crane-san-francisco