The restaurant opened in 1998 and as you enter you will see a wide expanse of redwood, stone and beamed interior ceilings. Although the restaurant has dining tables next to a wall of accordion type windows which look out onto Lincoln (Calistoga's Main Street), and in spite of the fact that the restaurant was virtually empty (with less than 12 patrons), we were seated at a table near the rear. I got the impression that they were short on waiters that evening and decided to seat everyone in one area.
The ambiance is pleasant; soft jazz in the background, a 19th century Brunswick Bar stretching the length of one wall, and a stone fireplace and murals of the Napa Valley enhance the other walls. Our server came to the table, dropped two menus and said "I’ll be back in a few to see what you want to drink" (a rather cold welcome in my opinion). I selected a glass of Francis Ford Coppola Chardonnay (at $7.25 a glass) and my husband chose Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet (at $8.75 a glass).
Appetizers range from Fried Calamari ($8, I thought it had too much cilantro), Braised Short Ribs ($11) to Oysters in Mignonette Sauce ($20 a dozen, which were OK, but nothing special). My husband had a Seafood Minestrone ($10 good, but a little heavy on basil).
We did not see our waiter during the Appetizers and Soup courses. He stopped back afterward to see if we wanted to order wines for our Entrees. We chose not to have more wine, since we had already had quite a bit to drink during tastings that day. He seemed disappointed that we were not drinking more.
Entrees range from Sea Bass ($22), Smoked Pork Chops with Cabbage and Applesauce ($20), Curry Poached Salmon ($18 which I found dry), and a Blue Cheese and Walnut Crusted Filet Mignon (again, seemed dry at $27). We decided not to have dessert, and waited for what seemed a very long time before the check was finally delivered.
In Summary: Reservations are recommended, but not always required. Brannan’s has a wonderful wine list and a very nice atmosphere. However, I find the service to be slow and the waiters inattentive (at least on the two occasions we were there). The menu items sounded very innovative, but I found them disappointingly dry and over seasoned. The Calistoga area has an abundance of wonderful restaurants, and in my humble opinion, most are better.
Results 1-5of 5 Reviews
Rohnert Park, California
April 3, 2006
After a long day of wine tasting, a good dinner is in order. Our friend recommended we eat at Brannan's Grill, a classy restaurant on the main street of Calistoga. It easily stands out on the street as one of the nicer buildings, and inside is just as lovely. The lighting is low, the staff are quiet and polite, and the smell of good food lingers from the kitchen.
I dined on the forever roasted pork ($19), served with russet mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts, all drizzled in a light citrus sauce. I started with a generous bowl of seasonal butternut squash soup ($7), garnished with fresh cream and cinnamon. All three of us ordered and shared the seared gnocchi starter with mushrooms and crispy basil ($11). Gnocchi, if you've never had it are little Italian potato dumplings served like pasta. I tasted each delicate morsel with delight.
The romantic lighting and rich wood throughout the restaurant created the perfect date ambiance. I felt perfectly welcome, however, at a large table with chatty girlfriends sipping nice wine and enjoying conversation with our handsome waiter.
Brannan's Grill Website
From journal Rub Down and Vino! Napa Valley Escape
July 23, 2004
From journal Calistoga - Napa Valley's Comfort Zone
April 22, 2002
For one lunch, I had baby back ribs, a specialty. The ribs were good, but not spectacular. What was spectacular was the heirloom tomato salad that was on the specials menu for the day. The tomatoes tasted as if they had been picked from someone's garden that day and tasted the way tomatoes are supposed to taste. On another visit, I wanted a light lunch, so I ordered the duck confit quesadilla. Delicious. The salty, garlicky duck blended well with cooked chopped apples and brie cheese inside and the extra-thin tortillas on the outside had been sauteed in butter until crisp. It was exactly the lunch I wanted.
There is a full bar and an extensive dinner menu as well.
From journal Getting into Hot Water in Calistoga
by Barb B
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona
May 16, 2001
From journal Get Spoiled in Calistoga!
by Travel Queen
November 2, 2000
From journal Calistoga - the northern california spa town