Archive for the ‘risotto’ Tag

cook lives up to its name   Leave a comment

cook sign

cook st. helena features a relatively small menu but big flavors. This undersized, and noisy, restaurant in downtown St. Helena, in the heart of the Napa Valley, has barely more than two dozen offerings. In fact, its wine list is longer than the menu. This means the restaurant does a few things very well, rather than many mediocre.cookinterior


In the soup and salad category there’s a Caesar or Chopped along with the soup of the day. However, heirloom tomatoes with evoo, grey salt and basil in the Sides listing caught my eye. That’s what I chose as my starter. There’s nothing that tastes like summer, even when fall is in the air, like a garden fresh tomato. The olive oil, grey salt and fresh basil were the equivalent of extra gifts on a special occasion.



Four types of house made pastas are available every night, and the entrees include chicken, pork, trout and a daily risotto. On my visit, the latter was served with a seared scallop, mussels and Temele cheese drizzled with a light fennel sauce. I asked the server three times to repeat the name of the cheese. I’d never heard of it, and it sounded intriguing; also I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a goat cheese. I wasn’t disappointed. The risotto was creamy thanks to the buttery soft cheese. My husband’s slow roasted pork was slightly spicy, but tender.



We were comfortably sated, and none of the desserts sounded tempting enough to push us over the edge.

cook st. helena
Four Plates
1310 Main St.
St. Helena, Calif.


Sundays are the New Mondays for Restaurants   Leave a comment

blueswordfishpopsYears ago, many restaurants used to close on Mondays nights  — perhaps to give staff a break after a busy weekend or to provide the kitchen a chance to restock. There’s also the possibility that the first day of the week was simply not popular for dining out, so restaurateurs decided it wasn’t worth the effort. In any case, I was surprised to discover that Sunday is the new Monday. That is, some fine dining establishments may be open for Sunday brunch, but come mid-afternoon the doors are shuttered. This year my wedding anniversary fell on Sunday. Consequently, The Blue Star was our fortuitous choice.


Apparently a lot of people like The Blue Star on Sunday nights – and with good reason. Not only is the menu inventive, but all bottles of wine are half price. The place was packed, I’m talking about the dining room not just the bar and lounge, which are routinely busy. We started with Swordfish Sugarcane Lollipops. A glistening sauce coated the grilled chunks of skewered fish which were tender with a hint of citrus and spice that found their way into the sauce. Grilled chicken topped with spinach and a roasted red pepper sauce on creamy risotto was delicately rich. Ham, mushrooms, and peas added balance. The flaky Pan Roasted Halibut was served with sweet pea pesto and pasta.


The wine list is a tome. Thanks to the Sunday night special, this made selecting a vintner even more fun than choosing our entrees.

The Blue Star
Four Plates
1645 S. Tejon St.
Colorado Springs, Colo.