Sunday, March 1, 2009

Napa Valley Eating: Gillwoods Cafe & Model Bakery

Katie has been talking up the merits of St. Helena's Model Bakery, so I wanted to give it a try while we were up here. Feeling peckish, she, the Suitor, and I donned our raincoats this morning and made the quick jaunt over to St. Helena's main strip. Model Bakery was without a single empty chair when we got there, and the rain put a damper on any notion of a picnic breakfast, so we revised our plans in favor of the not-quite-as-packed Gillwoods Cafe down the street.

We didn't have to wait long for a table, but as it turned out, Katie and I would have to wait a while for food. We ordered the steel-cut oats, and the Suitor ordered an omelette. Easy enough. But after a minute or two, the server came back and told us that they were out of the oats, but that their granola is really very good. So after another minute of reviewing the menu, we both ordered the granola. I wish the server had thought to check with the kitchen before recommending the granola, because they were out of that, too--and had been for a couple of hours.

At this point, Katie and I decided that we'd sit with the Suitor while he ate his omelette, and then walk back over to Model Bakery to get a pastry to go. So, I sat with Katie and the Suitor and my really-not-very-good cup of hot chocolate*, and nibbled on some of the Suitor's wheat toast. Which was, to their credit, quite good. The rest of their food is supposed to be great, so I'll go back... but between the (lack of) food and the disappointing hot chocolate, I confess that Gillwoods and I have not gotten off to the best start.

I was optimistic about Model Bakery, though, and they came through. My peppermint hot chocolate was just the thing for a chilly, rainy day, and my ham and swiss croissant, while not the best I've ever had, was nevertheless very good. The other pastries looked delicious, to say nothing of the cakes and other delights that sat in the dessert case. I'm looking forward to my next visit.

Gillwoods Cafe
1313 Main Street
St. Helena, CA

Model Bakery
1357 Main Street
St. Helena, CA

* I know, I'm a snob, but hot chocolate made with Hershey's syrup just tastes awful to me.


Bee said...

Sometimes "eating out" can be a very fragile experience. If the service or the food is off, our pleasure is so diminished. I checked out the Model Bakery site; I would give it another chance, too!

Anonymous said...

I concur, that hot chocolate was not very good at all. My mom said that the steel cut oats, while good, are not nearly as good as the one over at the old Sally Gordons.

kkryno said...

I think that the best hot chocolate is made with Ghardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and cocoa' but I'm no expert.

Fantastic Forrest said...

The worst atrocity is hot chocolate made with powder with artificial sweetener. We went to one of my favorite places in Portland, where they make the Greyhounds with real grapefruit, yet the hot chocolate was crap. The minute it traveled onto my tongue I sensed the evil presence of nutrasweet.


Your photo looks yummy. I mean the photo of the food.

Anne said...

I'm partial to this hot chocolate recipe, but I'll happily taste others. I'm drinking some mediocre-but-acceptable hot chocolate right now from the bakery a block away: too sweet for me, and a bit chalky, but when I'm too lazy to walk the extra block to Starbucks for their surprisingly good "signature hot chocolate," the stuff from Le Boulanger will do.

I have never had hot chocolate made with artificial sweetener. That sounds like an abomination. Why would one do such a thing? (Then again, I don't understand diet soda, either--or, frankly, anything with artificial sweetener.) I mean, aside from using the stuff out of medical necessity. But why on earth would a restaurant make their standard/default hot chocolate with the artificial stuff?

I didn't know what a greyhound was, but now I do, and it sounds delicious. (I love almost all things grapefruit.) Thanks!

Thanks also re: the photo. :)