NAPA, Ca. September, 2011—“People didn’t know we had food. It took a while for them to understand. Now they’re coming to eat,” said Scott Kendall, 28, owner/chef of Carpe Diem Wine Bar in downtown Napa. Although his menu offers wine-friendly snacks, it’s much more than cheese and crackers.” Even when they do come in just to drink, they end up socializing and eating something,” he said.
Scott and his wife Stephanie opened the wine bar about a year ago with partner Steve Distler. Both Kendalls are nearby Sonoma natives but met in college in San Diego. A common love of wine and food was one reason they got together.
Scott, after considering culinary school, chose business/management because he knew he wanted to open his own place. Cooking since high school, he worked in restaurants in La Jolla. Just before opening Carpe Diem, he worked for Smoke catering company in Napa.
After graduating from college they spent a year traveling the world. “We got a lot of cool ideas. I kept a journal. One reason we wanted to do a wine bar was to tie in lots of bold, interesting flavors; not be set to one cuisine,” Scott said. A global outlook is evident in his menu (see below) with Asian, Mexican, Italian and Greek elements. Robust flavors and playfully-enhanced comfort food are a perfect match for the dynamic wine list.
One way the chef explores his creative side is in the tacos. He changes them often, most recently he did Edamame hummus topped with grilled onions and the lamb followed by a fresh slaw, crumbled feta cheese and some toasted sumac. Past editions included Filet Mignon with a Blackberry Balsamic glaze, grilled Onions and Slaw as well as Macadamia Crusted Mahi Mahi with a charred Jalapeño Aioli topped with a Coconut Slaw. “We make a few changes every couple of weeks. It’s a lot of work finding the right way to present it, the best ingredients and best price,” Scott said. He runs specials to test the response before putting it on the actual menu. “For locals we have to make changes. Who wants to go back and see the same menu?” he added.
Chef Scott is pleased with business so far. “We’ve had a steep learning curve. It’s scary to open a restaurant in a saturated area. But business is better than we thought and we’re seeing a great local following and write-ups.”
Wife Stephanie, 27, runs the front of the house, does the marketing, events and parties. “I enjoy all the great people we have met and the customer loyalty. We know about half of the people that walk in the door!” she said.
Open every day during summer, Carpe Diem is open just five days a week during winter and, for now, only dinner. Adding lunch is a possibility for the future. That frees Scott up to enjoy motorcycle riding, tennis, basketball and time with Stephanie.
Crispy olives $6
herb goat cheese filling, panko crust
Truffled popcorn $6
Marcona almonds, black truffle salt, white truffle oil
Housemade burrata $14
heirloom tomatoes, evoo, sea salt, cracked pink peppercorns, balsamic glaze, fresh basil, grilled bread
Double Duck Potstickers
Duck confit, foie gras, wood ear mushrooms, shaved carrot, edamame and cucumber salad, orange ponzu scallion sauce
Artisanal Cheese & Charcuterie
Five year aged gouda
cow’s milk - Vintage, Netherlands
Sheep’s milk - Finca Laa Prudencia, Spain
Goat’s milk - Perigord Dairy, France
Salame Nostrano - Fra’mani,California
Venison paté - Three Little Pigs, New York
Roasted wild mushroom $11
Cave-aged gruyere, truffle, fine herbs, garlic, arugula
Tiger prawn $14
Torn basil, fresh peas, preserved lemon, red onion, parmesan, chili flakes
The Gyro $14
Fennel lamb sausage, grilled onions, Cypress Grove Midnight Moon cheese, radicchio, tzatziki, fresh watercress
Pan Seared Spicy Calamari $13
Not your everyday calamari. Chorizo, red Calabrian
peppers, roasted fingerling potatoes, baby arugula
Quack ‘n’ Cheese $12
Our take on the classic macaroni and cheese.
Duck confit, caramelized onion, bread crumbs
Cabernet Braised Short Rib Sliders $ 13
A Carpe classic. Our BBQ sauce, radicchio and
snap pea slaw, aioli, ABC potato bun (3)
Housemade “Twix Bar”
Shortbread cookie crisp, caramel, chocolate, our “WTF” Lagunitas beer ice cream
Nutella, flambeed banana, vanilla bean ice cream, lattice crisp
1001 2nd St.
Napa, CA 94559
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.