BarBites(July 29, 2010)
Market: Market earned its claim to fame through original partners Douglas Keane and Nick Peyton, who opened the refined American comfort food restaurant in 2003. These days, the pair is renowned for their two-ichelin-star Cyrus in Healdsburt. Yet the legend – and quality – lives on, through longtime Market chef Eduardo Martinez, who took over in 2008 as the chef-owner. This upscale-looking but moderately priced pub-restaurant continues to draw starstruck out-of-towners and locals who know it’s one of the best deals in swanky downtown St. Helena for luxuriously rich mac and cheese ($14) and juicy Duroc pork chop ($21) with favas, wild mushrooms and cognac sauce.
The polished dark-wood bar sets a sophisticated mood. If feels regal and it is; the bar is said to have come from the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
In tourist season, good luck getting into the 75-seat spot without reservations. But one of the best times to perch at the bar is “linner,” that quiet time between lunch and dinner.
With only 10 seats at the bar, you’re always in the heart of the action. And the high-backed chairs are so perfectly curved and padded that your body oozes into them and best to stay a good long time.
Crispy calamari ($13) comes decorated with nopales and packs a nice kick from Fresno chiles, while there’s plenty of flair in ceviche ($14) of wild cod with hearts of palm, celery, oregano, jalapeños and avocados.
Get playful with cocktails ($10 each) like Randy’s Tuaca drop of Tuaca vanilla-citrus liqueur, Cointreau and house-made sweet and sour.
Also on tap
Several craft beers such as Blue Star Wheat on draft (Fort Bragg, $6). Designated drivers aren’t overlooked, either, with a No-Heat-O Virgin Mojito ($5)
If you can’t be appeased by the 80-plus choices of Cali-centric wines, bring your own. Corkage is free.