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“Tasty Small Plates” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Barolo

1457 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga, CA 94515
707 942 9900
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Ranked #10 of 37 Restaurants in Calistoga
Price range: $15 - $20
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Bar scene, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night, Dessert
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Fairway
the bay area
2 reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Tasty Small Plates”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2007

I ate at Bar Vino in December of 2006, so I am writing a bit late. Anyhoo, it was my first expieience eating small plates, and it turned out to be the perfect place to start. All of the dishes we ordered were very creative and tasted great too. We started out with a plate of raw oysters topped with an apple slaw. Then we moved on to grilled blue nose bass with manilla clams and chorizo broth- one of the best things I've ever tasted, Crab Thermidor, and this great beef dish.(the details escape me) For dessert, Chocolate Pot du Creme, and a Roasted Banana Parfait. It just keeps getting better and better. And, or course, the service was good too. I will definatley be eating at Bar Vino again and again, and recommending it to others.

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168 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Bay Area
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Not quite tapas, not quite big-plate”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2007

Well, having finally managed to coordinate lives (inc child) and actually get a night off to ourselves we headed to wine country and ended up for the night in Calistoga.

Having eaten previously at a number of the restaurants there we decided on Bar Vino in part because of reviews we had read and in part to try somewhere new.

First impressions:

Very good ambience and lighting as you enter and around the seats at the front. Well stocked bar, lots of different reds. Rather loud background noise.

We were unfortunately seated towards the back of the room along the rear wall. Given the style of chairs/tables and the long mirror on the wall this had more of a feel of a low-end joint, quite different to how it looked on the way in.

We were served by a very friendly waitress however this is where is started to go a little pear shaped.

We asked for a glass of zin for me and said we'd wait to decide on the Sauvignon Blanc flight until my fiancée had tried the zin. All the wines came at the same time. Oops.

Only one of the three whites was actually chilled and our request to have chilled replacements for the others was met with surprise and discussion rather than just acceptance.

When we received the new wine, one of them was clearly corked and if the smell was not enough of a clue, the taste certainly was. Again, the immediate reaction was not apology and replacement, but more discussion, a 2nd opinion at the bar followed by a replacement glass and the comment 'It probably wasn't corked, this is just a stinky white'. The replacement smelt totally different and actually tasted like a Sauv-blanc so even to our amateur abilities not the same as the original.

I've had numerous corked bottles over the past couple of years in the Bay Area. We had one at Mumm (the day before as it happens), there they just apologised and replaced it. Far better lasting impression of the customer service.

The wine list states that there is no corkage option as the bar prides itself in offering a wide range of local and international wines. Well, the non-Californian selection of reds was 1 if I recall (perhaps 2) and almost all of the other reds bar 1 or 2 notable exceptions (I seem to remember a J C Cellars bottle) were from vineyards unknown to us. Given the sizeable number of great vineyards across the various valleys the obscure selection was a little surprising. By all means pick from the smaller places, pick wines that appeal to the owner and that they want to share. But give diners the option of choosing something that they might recognise if they really don't fancy taking a chance on a new name.

If the bar is going to offer obscure choices then they need both knowledgeable waiting staff or better descriptions of the wines. We must have heard ‘fruit forward’ about 100 times during our questions.

Then there's the food.

I'm English, and despite what you may have heard, the food in England can actually be pretty damn good. We also have a fair few Tapas restaurants so I know the style.

The plates at Bar Vino are too large for you to get a wide selection, but too small for you to just pick one. We ended up getting 3 options and fries whereas in a Tapas bar we could easily have ordered far more than that.

The curried cauliflower dish was just cauliflower. Neither of us tasted any flavour (apart from the vegetable) which after a whole plate of it can get a little old.

The steak I had was actually pretty tasty although the bed of escarole was extremely bitter.

The fries were actually pretty good too, lots of garlic & herbs.

Overall though, a hugely disappointing dining experience. The bar was not overly busy so this could not be blamed on a frantic kitchen staff.

The only redeeming feature which sort of made it all ok was the accomodation. We stayed in a really lovely room at the Garnett Creek Inn (Calistoga). We had the suite at the front, ground floor. The young guys who run this place really do seem to have made some effort to create a relaxing and pleasant environment.

Well worth checking out.

Unlike Bar Vino....

....unless you just fancy a drink at the bar, perhaps with a quick snack (fries) in which case the decor, ambience and whole experience would probably just about work.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Altos, California
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Best wine tasting of the weekend”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2007

We had dinner in BarVino for my birthday weekend. BarVino had 4 different flights of wines to choose from, in addition to many single wines by the glass. My husband and I each ordered a different flight of wine and shared. It was a lot of fun and a great way to try 7 different wines from 7 different makers without trucking all over Napa. Some of the wines are not even available at the wineries any more--most of what we tried were small lots from small makers.

We also ordered miscellaneous "small plates" for our dinner. The food was great, the service was prompt and attentive, and the wine we had at BarVino was better than any of the wine we had during our various tasting stops at several small Napa wineries.

It was great fun and we will definitely go back the next time we are in town.

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Marina del Rey, California
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Amazing Wines and Wonderful Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2006

We stopped into BarVino for a glass of wine before dining at Brannans and we loved the place. After a few apps and tastes of wines we ended up staying there for the evening!

Food is delicious, great selection of local wines by the taste, and fantastic desserts. It is a beautiful place and we had a blast.

Great addition to Calistoga!

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gainesville, Florida
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2006

It doesn't get better than this. Fun atmosphere and great food! We started wtih the artisian cheese plate, moved on to curry roasted cauliflower w/cilantro pesto, winter squash gnocchi w/duck confit, and beef short ribs, then finished off with chocolate pots de creme. All sublime and fairly priced. With dinner I enjoyed the Calix Syrah 2004 which complimented nicely and then had a cappiccino with desert. If your mouth isn't watering by now you need to see a doctor.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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