Napa Valleys Newest Bright Light
Another beautiful day in The Napa Valley and once again The Dining Detectives are privileged to taste some of the best cuisine California has to offer. This evening we are at the newly opened Pairs Restaurant just off Hwy. 29 in Napa.
Pairs, the labor of love of brothers, Craig and Keith Schauffel is all about pairing fine wine and Asian Fusion Cuisine, Asian spices with the freshest California ingredients. The Asian influence starts with the décor, which is Feng Shui inspired. As you walk into the peaceful courtyard near the entrance you see a large Water Lily Koi pond with 6 large goldfish and Bamboo and Japanese Maples growing all around. Upon entering the restaurant, there is a striking Brazilian Wood Bar with a beautiful Chinese River Rock Base, which is at the center of two distinct dining rooms.
Robert Hernandez, the manager warmly greeted us, gave us a tour and then escorted us to our table where our server Cordis Jones III was about to lead us through a well-paced fine dining experience. We were served housemade Grilled Focaccia bread with a fabulous Dipping Sauce and Calistoga Sparkling Mineral Water.
We ordered some Saki Signature drinks to start.
Saketini- Sake and Dry Vermouth.
Killer Cosmo- Sake, Cranberry and Orange Juice.
Saka " Rita"-Sake, LimeJuice, Sweet and Sour, Splash of OJ.
Nutty Asian Pear Slaw with Crumbled Blue Cheese- A great unusual salad which we highly recommend!!! Paired well with The 1999 Blockhedia Ringnosii , Lorenza- Lake County Zinfandel.
Thai Chili Crab Cake with Mango Cabbage Salad- This was dynamite!
We loved the lime cilantro sauce that was drizzled over it. Paired well with 1998 Deinhard Qualitatswein (German Rheinhessen Reisling).
Crispy Lemon Calamari with Citrus Ailoli- Significantly different in taste, fried with fennel and lemon slices. Superb! We preferred to pair it with Sparkling Water but some might choose Mumm Champagne.
Roasted Mussels in a Tomato Coconut Broth with Cilantro Lime Fettuccine- Great presentation, one of our favorites prepared with the lime accent that truly made it fabulous. Paired well with the 2000 Victoria, Australia Taltarni Sauvignon Blanc. This Estate grown wine was one of the best wed ever tasted. A killer Sauvignon Blanc.
Tamarind Tangerine Rack of Lamb with Sweet Potato Risotto- A fantastically prepared and presented rack of lamb with a great side of risotto. Paired well with the 1992 Beckman, Santa Barbara, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sesame Grilled Asparagus Spears with Tangerine- This hot and spicy side is worthy of adding to any meal. Paired well with the 1998 Calera, El Nino, Pinot Noir.
Mandarin Chocolate Macadamia Torte- This sinful dessert was perfect especially for the newlyweds at a table near us!
Warm Cinnamon Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream and German Riesling Syrup. Excellent, a great Apple Crisp.
Banana Tart Tartin with Candied Walnut Ice Cream. A Banana lovers delight.
Craig and Keith Schauffel Chef/Owners both trained at The CIA, Culinary Institute of America and well traveled, bring a wealth of experience to Pairs Restaurant. The Cuisine is fantastic, the service was excellent and the décor is peaceful yet striking. The special touches like Green Apple Saki Sorbet between courses to cleanse the palate and the beautiful square plates showed again how well schooled they are in terms of the Art of Cuisine and Importance of Presentation. We highly recommend Pairs and look forward to many future visits to this new bright light on the Napa Valley dining scene.