CIA, Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant

We drove up valley today to have lunch at the Culinary Institute of America, Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant,   (, and as we drove past the vineyards we could see the beginnings of the mustard plants in bloom. Most people only ever see the vineyards in full bloom with grapes and never get to enjoy the winter beauty of the mustard flowers that grow in between the vines each year.  The bright green and yellow of the plants bring a spark of joy and pleasure to the dried brown vines that are waiting for pruning.  There is less traffic on the roads, the skies are crisp and blue with puffs of white and grey clouds, and the chill in the air makes you appreciate the fires that are burning at the wineries, in the restaurants, and even back at The Inn On First. The food at Greystone was great.  They had a broad assortment of items to choose from, imaginative and fun, and very seasonal.  I began with the mushroom toast, with a selection of wild mushrooms bathed with a light cream sauce on top of toast.  My disappointment was that the toast got soggy while eating; if they had just toasted it a bit more in the oven it would have held its crispness.  There was no disappointment with the flavor.  Overall, it was a great dish.  Instead of ordering an entree I selected another first course, the Cioppino.  Served in a creamy tomato sauce, with shrimp, oysters, fish, and crab, it was a delightful entree that warmed me up on a cold day.  It was also unusual in that it wasn’t a tomato-based stew, but rather it tasted a little bit like a Seafood Gumbo, but with a bit less spice.  I liked it.  Jamie enjoyed the seared bay scallops with risotto, with bits of bacon, potato, and celery.  Another friend ordered the quail with a slaw of grilled radicchio and roasted quince; a great combination of flavors.  For dessert I ordered the 3 cheeses that came with honey and fresh honeycomb, quince jelly, and candied pecans.  Yummy!  I am such a cheese lover.  Jamie, of course!, ordered the chocolate lava cake that oozed with chocolate as he cut it open.  Another yummy dessert!  We both loved the ambience, especially the open kitchen and the fireplace in the corner of the room blazing with warmth and light.  The wait support staff was attentive without being domineering; although our waiter was occasionally distracted (it was obvious they were understaffed).  It was a hip and happening place, which also meant it was a little noisier that I typically like it when I’m with a group of people.  It made it difficult on having a table conversation with others at the other end of the table.  One member in our party is well over 80 years old and I know she struggled to hear some of the conversation.  Good, solid food and presentation; worth the price of admission; may need some work on service.


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