Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen without Cindy

We took a very quick overnight trip to the Napa Valley to view a house that a family relative is considering purchasing. On the way, we stopped in St. Helena for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. Several weeks ago we read in the S.F. Chronicle that Cindy Pawlcyn had been in a car accident. The newspaper report indicated that Cindy suffered minor injuries. We asked our server how she was doing. She stated that Cindy’s injuries were extensive. She spent several weeks in the hospital and will not return to her kitchen for perhaps as long as 4 months. Our meal was excellent, but we felt something was amiss at the restaurant. Cindy is obviously missed by all. We wish Cindy a speedy recovery.

piquillo peppers stuffed

Stuffed piquillo peppers

A Visit to V. Sattui

Sign in tasting room

Sign in tasting room

I am always amazed at the number of folks who visit this winery and buy wine in huge amounts. I wonder, as probably winery owners in the Valley do, how it is that Dario Sattui is able sell all his wine out of his tasting room. None of the Sattui wine is distributed. The tasting room is a bevy of activity. Our server was efficient and knowledgeable. He knew each Sattui wine like the back of his hand. Impressive, to say the least. By the way, visitors can try one complimentary taste of wine, otherwise it is $15 to taste a lineup of several wines. We had previously tasted the Sattui wines as well as the wines from Castello di Amorosa, Dario’s newer winery located near Calistoga. The overall quality of the wines is very high. Winemaker Brooks Painter is the winemaker for both wineries. The St. Helena tasting room has a cheese and deli shop where visitors can purchase food items and head outside for a picnic lunch. No outside wine is allowed (understandable) and no outside food. I think that is a bit stiff on the food control, but it seems to work because the expansive picnic area is very busy. I need to do more digging into the tremendous success of Dario Sattui and his wines.

Calistoga Tidbits

In the late afternoon we walked along Lincoln Avenue, the business area of Calistoga. Since our last visit, there are a couple of new tasting rooms in town and one new restaurant. Do you remember Wappo, a restaurant with an eclectic menu? It closed down several years ago, but recently reopened as 1226 Washington. The menu looks great and, at the W.H. Smith Tasting Room, our server highly recommended it. We will give it a try the next time to Calistoga.

At the W.H. Smith tasting room, we shared a tasting of 6 wines for $15. The wines were all delicious but expensive. The Sauvignon Blanc was $28. The lineup of Pinot Noir wines was fantastic, but again expensive. Our favorite from the Sonoma Coast was above $50.

Solbar Restaurant at Solage

This is the top restaurant in Calistoga. The restaurant is situated in the beautiful and luxurious Solage resort. We had a lovely dinner outside in the warm evening air. The food, wine and atmosphere were excellent. Surprisingly, we found the service lacking. Slow, slow, and slower was our experience. For example, our party ordered a second bottle of wine and it took 10 minutes to arrive. The check including tip came to $390 for four.

The Solbar restaurant at Solage Resort

The Solbar restaurant at Solage Resort

Calistoga Cab Hopper

I would like to recommend this little taxi company that serves the Calistoga area. They are pricy at $5 a mile, but Calistoga is a small area. As it states in the brochure, taking the Hopper is more fun than spending a night in jail. We called the Hopper from the Solbar, and within ten minutes they were there to take us to our destination. I previously posted an article about the presence of Uber in the Napa Valley. However, they are not as yet servicing the Calistoga area of the Napa Valley.

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    Sunburst Calistoga: The Poor Man’s Solage

    The Sunburst Calistoga Hotel

    A couple of weeks ago we decided to spend an overnight in the Napa Valley. It happened to be the same time as the Napa Film Festival activities, and almost all the lodging in the Valley was booked. Since we travel so often to the wine country, and tend to spend most of the day visiting wineries and exploring the valley, we are always looking for budget lodging. If you are spending little time in your room, all you need is comfort, cleanliness, and safety.

    room view sunburst calistoga

    Our room at the Sunburst Calistoga

    Our friends at the Stevenson Manor suggested we try the Sunburst Calistoga. They said it was their new sister property. We booked a room that was available and off we went to the Napa Valley. After a day’s worth of activities visiting wineries, we headed to Calistoga to find the Sunburst. Where is this place? Well, it is on the outskirts of the town on Lincoln Avenue. As soon as we saw it we realized that this place had previously been a huge eyesore. It looked like a slum, run down and unkempt. Now the place has been completely redone. Each room has been remodeled and decorated with very bright colors and light. The Sunburst Calistoga opened in August of 2013.

    The interesting thing about the Sunburst Calistoga is that it is almost a stone’s throw away from the Solage Calistoga. The Sunburst is on Lincoln Avenue and just over the Napa River on the Silverado Trail is the Solage Calistoga. Room rates for the Solage will start about $600 whereas the typical Sunburst room will be $230 on weekends. I like giving the Sunburst the name “The Poor Man’s Solage.” Each room at the Sunburst Calistoga has a flat screen TV, a mini fridge, a single-cup coffee maker and free Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi sent a very strong signal to our room, which was about as far away as possible from the motel office. I liked that very much. The stay at the Sunburst includes a small continental breakfast in the Lobby.

    view of motel rooms sunburst

    Solage Calistoga is across the way

    The rooms are comfortable and, of course since it is new, the entire room was immaculate. There are also a hot tub and swimming pools that receive waters from the famous geothermal wells of Calistoga. The other amenity that we very much appreciate, and one that is available at all Calistoga lodging, is the shuttle service to local restaurants and wineries. We called and within ten minutes the shuttle picked us up at the Sunburst Office and delivered us to Brannan’s restaurant. When we were done dining, we called and were returned safely to our abode.

    pool at Sunburst Calistoga

    Warm mineral pool

    We found a couple of things we did not care for at Sunburst. Janelle thought it was a little too isolated and had a motel feel to it. Another weird thing was the atrocious warning sign at the pool entrance. Perhaps it is the new code that warrants such an extreme warning. It is so outrageous that I for one would not want to step into that pool. You need to see for yourself. Maybe the powers that be will take that sign down before you visit.

    If you’re looking for budget lodging in Calistoga, give the Sunburst a look!

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