Tarla Mediterranean Grill

Only a few short blocks from The Inn On First, the best bed and breakfast in Napa, is a new restaurant called Tarla.  The cuisine is Turkish-Mediterranean, and the ambience is casual and comfortable.  Modern elements in design dominate, and yet tableware reflects a traditional element, for example in the Turkish water cups on the tables.

There are plenty of traditional Mediterranean first plates, such as dolmas (creamier than any I’ve had elsewhere) and spanikopita with spinach and feta and tziki sauce, but also items new to me, such as the flaming cheese covered in champagne syrup (delicious!).  As a salad Jamie and I split the pomegranate salad (a don’t miss dish) with barley and pomegranate seeds.  We also ordered the Turkish meatballs that were a nicely browned with a perfect spicy richness in both the meat and the sauce.

For main course I enjoyed the Tiger Prawns/Scallops on parsnip puree while Jamie ordered the Lamb Kebabs that came with a rich and creamy red pepper sauce.  Our friends ordered the chicken kebabs and the pistachio crusted halibut (yummy).  Finally, for dessert we enjoyed the mascarpone stuffed Turkish apricots and a Turkish version of mascarpone that was utterly not sweet (unusual for me as I expected sweetness, but not a bad dessert at all for those cutting back on sugar), that carried a little bit of rich toffee in its presentation.

As a wine pairing for all of us we chose the Brown Estate Zinfandel that was smooth, rich, with a really nice finish.  All in all it was a really nice meal.  Don’t expect anything grandiose here.  This is simple cuisine in a casual environment, with no reservations taken except for parties of 6 or more.  The service was good and the food was definitely tasty.  Prices range from $8-$10 for appetizers/salads, and $15-$22 for main courses.

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Received a nice little write up in the Sacramento Bee.

Take a peek at what they said about The Inn On First, a luxury Bed and Breakfast Inn in Napa, and the downtown Napa experience: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/19/4270150/downtown-napa-luring-tourists.html

Be sure to look at the Slide Show as Jamie is now Sacramento Famous!

Solbar: favorite Calistoga hangout for lunch.

Up in the northern part of Napa Valley just outside of the small town of Calistoga (about 40 minutes from The Inn On First) sits Solage, a small resort, with a lovely restaurant called Solbar.  The menu continues to change seasonally, and there are always great choices for both healthy eating or making more “extravagant” choices (grilled chicken versus fried chicken, for example).  I’ve never eaten here for dinner (too far to drive- about 45 minutes), but when out wine tasting for the day it is the perfect lunch spot in the middle of the day.

The dining room is spacious and modern (on good days a patio awaits you), and the menu selection always delightful to read.  We shared an appetizer, bruschetta with goat cheese, roasted butternut squash, and a cranberry chutney.  What a power punch of flavor that was, all together in a single bite.  Couldn’t help but wonder if I could pack that same power punch into breakfast someday.  The fish tacos, grilled halibut, with roasted peppers, cilantro, and a house special sauce finished the meal perfectly.  It comes with three tacos, and we ordered one extra so we could both have two, but found that one and a half would have been plenty for both of us.  The peppers, we were warned, were really hot, and they weren’t kidding!  Drank lots of water to flush out my palate, but enjoyed the whole experience immensely.

Prices run $9-$12 for appetizers and salads, $13-$19 for main courses.  They also have a nice selection of Napa Valley wines to pair with your meal.

Jamie Cherry is awarded a Champion of the Industry Award!

Jamie Cherry, one of the innkeepers of Napa Valley’s bed and breakfast, The Inn on First, was recently awarded the Champion of the Bed and Breakfast Industry Award from the Professional Association of International Innkeepers (PAII). Cherry received the award in recognition of his efforts to promote the innkeeping industry. The award will be formally conferred on Jan. 26 at the 2012 Innkeeping Show Awards Luncheon at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Ark., from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.

“Language is a powerful tool, and it is the basis in forming culture and ideology, even in the world of the travel business. In working with an organization that is responsible for promoting Napa Valley as a tourist destination, I am committed to changing the language used by this and all local and county organizations that promote travel to the Napa Valley – that the word ‘hotel’ is not appropriate when discussing lodging properties in the area, which includes dozens of bed and breakfast inns,” Cherry said in his acceptance speech. “We are not hoteliers, we are innkeepers, and there is a world of difference between the two. Our terminology should be more inclusive in order to continue to invite people to a broader understanding of the diversity of lodging options available to them.”

The Champion Awards are given to anyone who has helped advance the trade of innkeepers and innkeeping locally, regionally, nationally or internationally. Such actions may include legislative or regulatory successes, or a public relations breakthrough that elevates the profile of the bed and breakfast industry. Nominations are presented to the PAII Board of Directors in the fall prior to the PAII annual conference. The Board of Directors may choose to award as many recipients as deserve it.

The Inn on First is a plush bed and breakfast inn that combines Napa Valley tradition with San Francisco modernity. Cherry, a customer service specialist with a vast background in high-profile financial services, and chef Jim Gunther, a California Culinary Academy graduate with experience cooking for Relais and Chåteaux establishments, have brought The Inn on First to the forefront of Napa’s innkeeping industry since 2007. The inn is known for its charming atmosphere, lovely rooms and gourmet meals, which is perfect for a romantic getaway. Guests may unwind with in-room massages, or taste the best foods and wine the valley offers.

For more information about any of The Inn on First’s products or services, call 707-253-1331, view the inn on the web at http://www.theinnonfirst.com or visit 1938 First St. in Napa.

About The Inn on First

Napa’s lodging inn, The Inn on First is a television-free and smoke-free environment. It is recognized by the Certified Green Lodging Association of California, the California Legislature, the United States Congress, and the Napa County Green Business Association.