Convincing John to go to a just vegetable restaurant was initially a tough sell. It has taken me years to finally convince John that small bites, particularly of fish canapés, is much more satisfying than a 16 ounce steak. In fact, John now generally prefers one or at the most two ending meat courses at French Laundry and Manresa.
But knowing Jeremy was from Manresa sealed the deal and we went for lunch. What a lunch it was – absolutely sensational. John was not only convinced; he can’t wait to go back. Jeremy and Deanie completely spoiled us – we basically said you cook, we eat.
We were also lucky to spend time with the owner, Sandy Lawrence. She explained that Ubuntu is a Zulu word that means “humanity toward others.” She learned the word while working in South Africa.
From their web site:
Ubuntu, briefly stated, is “humanity toward others”, which is the basis of this community-focused restaurant.
Also from the web site:
“Ubuntu chef Jeremy Fox says “I am really excited to have the chance to do something that hasn’t been done before-this project has the distinction of being more of a vegetable restaurant than a vegetarian restaurant. We are not offering a philosophy of no meat, we are celebrating what comes from the gardens, what shows up at the door and our relationships with farms in Napa…all new rules for what people expect.” Fox will showcase his considerable talents and knowledge of the very best in farm to table cuisine.”
The room is beautiful – high ceilings, lovely light, a wonderful communal table – in fact on Thursdays, you can take a yoga class and then have a “family-style” dinner at the communal table after class.
What impressed me most about Ubuntu is the incredible flavors in each dish – this is very, very labor intensive cuisine and it shows.
Wine: Ladera 2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Beer: Moonlighting Brewing Company – By Boat IPA, santa Rosa, Ca (John wanted beer and wine!)
Radis au beurre, smoked salt, butter – the radishes were baby D’Avignon radishes, also called breakfast radishes from France. I learned from a google search that the French like to eat them for breakfast dipped in butter and kosher salt. The smoked salt added just the right touch.
Sunchokes with romesco, buddha’s hand – these was absolutely addictive – the sunchokes were perfectly fried, the Romesco spicy, but not overly aggressive. Buddha’s hand is a member of the citron family, famous for its fragrance.
Assorted broccoli a la catalan Pine nut-soy milk pudding, golden raisins, roast red pepper consommé
Who would think that broccoli could taste so good, but the combination of flavors was wondrous and that is what makes this cuisine so special. There is such a burst of flavor in each bite.
Artichokes and Buttercrunch Lettuce with celery salsa verde (olives, capers, parmesan)
Carta da musica ( A Sardinian bread that is very thin, dry and crispy. The name Carta da Musica (music paper) is attributed to the noise produced when they are chewed.
Oxheart carrot, roasted whole with satsumas
Fresh-picked greens, parsnip puree, mortared hazelnuts, parsley, rue oil
Erin, our wonderful server, first presented the oxheart carrot whole. The effect was like looking at a huge piece of roasted meat. The taste was superb and the hazelnuts added just the right amount of texture.
Four cauliflowers in a cast iron pot
Roasted-pureed-raw, vadouvan spice, brown butter toast – there is a reason this is a signature dish – there is just no way to describe how good this is.
This was comfort food at its best and the Vadouvan spice is a favorite of mine and worked beautifully with the richness of this dish.
Anson mills speckled grits, hickory smoked
bbq Brussels sprouts, celery root, tiny mizuna salad, housemade barbecue sauce – my or my – the barbecue sauce was just perfect with the grits and who cared that there was no beef, chicken or pork – you didn’t need it or for that matter want it. By the way, Jeremy could bottle that sauce and make a fortune.
Farm egg and fried Robuchon potatoes Black truffle “bordelaise’, Bordeaux spinach
Just when I thought I had two most sensational courses in a row, out comes the egg!!!!! I will let the photos do the talking – absolutely over the top spectacular. My assumption for the reason that it is called Robuchon’s potato is that it was equal parts butter and potato. This is NOT diet cuisine and to be honest, we were getting very full.
John’s plate after he ate the egg
But now it was Deanie’s turn and she was not to be outdone by Jeremy
Slow-cooked pineapple (done in a cryovac)
Fresh passion fruit, smoked mango sorbet, passion fruit gelee, crisp shiso – delicious and I loved the addition of the tempura of shiso.
Vanilla bean “cheesecake” in a jar
Sour cherries, pine nut sable – John hates cheescake and he wasn’t exactly fair about sharing, but it was his birthday weekend.
Freshly brewed tea
This was an exceptional lunch and I would go back in a heart beat.