On a picture-perfect Monday morning, we gathered at Stewart Cellars in Yountville to sample the fare of its new Southside Cafe.
The hosts included Irma Robinson, Chef Morgan Robinson, Caroline Stewart Guthrie and her husband, Stewart Cellars winemaker Blair Guthrie.
The Robinsons are the chef/owners of the immensely popular Southside Cafe on Old Sonoma Road in Napa.
The fare, much like that of the Napa cafe, displays a fresh, local and authentic approach filled with colorful, textural and aromatic elements. The wines shined in a seamless orchestration of layers and distinctive qualities.
The first course consisted of a healthy and balanced serving of Chef Morgan’s house-made granola with organic oats, smoked almonds, dried cherries, coconut and yogurt.
“This is the ideal grab-and-go for breakfast,” Irma said. Complete and satisfying, the mix of granola and yogurt had a bright layer brought by local wild honey that enhanced the crunchy layers of nuts and fruit.
It was matched with a zippy Napa Valley sauvignon blanc.
“Being originally from New Zealand, I love playing with aromatic white wines,” winemaker Guthrie said.
Other dishes included the Tuna Confit Salad with chicories, cucumber, chickpeas, castelvetrano olives, preserved lemon vinaigrette and toasted breadcrumbs paired with a balanced and intriguing rosè.
A hearty play on biscuits and gravy followed next but not any biscuits and not any gravy. The biscuit mix is Chef Morgan’s secret weapon, crunchy on the outside, soft and decadent on the inside topped with a sausage gravy with crispy chorizo filling — rich and certainly a dish you will come back for after you try it. This dish was served with the Sonoma Coast pinot noir, which showed bramble, cola and raspberries with a medium body and a long finish.
The last dish was sublime: cake with persimmons and chantilly cream paired with Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon — unexpectedly a great marriage of flavors.
Other featured items on the menu of the new Southside include a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes for all palates. Starting with breakfast available all day, they offer breakfast sandwiches, ham, scrambled egg, jack cheese, avocado, shishito peppers and chipotle crema on English muffin and its vegetarian counterpart, the Veggie Breakfast Sandwich with charred broccolini, scrambled egg, goat cheese, chipotle cream and English muffin.
Three toast options are also available: Grilled Strawberry Toast Model Bakery wheat toast, whipped mascarpone, grilled strawberries, tarragon, smoked almonds and honey; Caramelized Apple Toast on Model Bakery cranberry-walnut toast, goat cheese, sage and chestnuts; and the Avocado Toast Model Bakery seeded toast, poached egg, toasted pumpkin seeds and arugula.
The breakfast options are complemented by the house-made granola; an unexpected and adventurous Superfood Breakfast Bowl of red quinoa, roasted beets, arugula, poached egg, Greek yogurt and chia seeds, and the Biscuits and Gravy.
The lunch menu, also available all day, has three components: sandwiches, featuring the Open Face Mushroom Torta of roasted portobello, avocado, pickled jalapenos and cilantro dressing; the Croque Senora, ham and cheese on brioche, with chipotle mornay and a fried egg; and the equally satisfying Carne Asada Torta, roasted tri-tip, charred onions and peppers, jack cheese, chipotle crema and tomato-chile jus.
The salads portion is nothing short of exciting with a flashy cast of characters. The menu includes an Heirloom Farro Salad of baby kale, golden raisins, capers and smoked almonds; the Roasted Winter Squash and Burrata with maple-bacon vinaigrette, bitter greens and pepitas; a Tuna Confit Salad and a Smoked Chicken Salad of spiced rubbed chicken, arugula, fresh herbs, dried bing cherries, blue cheese and apple vinaigrette.
The entrees include the Southside Protein Bowl, a mix of charred jalapeno hummus, chick peas, poached egg, arugula served on a Model Bakery wheat toast, and Albacore Tostadas’ with a tuna confit, avocado mash, pickled jalapenos and fresh herbs. There’s also a kids’ menu that includes biscuit and jam, grilled cheese on sourdough and eggs and toast.
The beverages range from Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters offerings from espresso, mocha, cappuccino to an iced almond horchata latte and an agua fresca.
“We’ll be making Horchata and Jamaica agua fresca in house,” general manager Evan Dodge said. There will be Kilogram Tea, English breakfast, tumeric tonic and Blend 333 mint, to name a few. Mexican coke, as well as Mexican hot chocolate and iced tea, will also be available.
An intriguing aspect will be the wine in that they will be offered from Stewart Cellars tasting room. It will be advantageous to the cafe-goers to have wines of this caliber available to enjoy with their selections.
“The menu will evolve but seasonally and up to par with Yountville,” Chef Morgan said. “We might even have foie gras in a few months.” The cafe itself has a great, cozy feel, and doors on every side make it feel larger than it is.
Irma Robinson, who lived in Australia, said this style of cafe is popular and exciting in Melbourne. She explained how this casual eateries take coffee very seriously, and it is something they wanted to pay homage to. “We tried multiple coffee roasters until we settled for Wrecking Ball, we found it to be balanced, rich enough, just right,” she said.
Stewart Cellars was founded in 2000 by patriarch Michael Stewart, who enlisted winemaker Paul Hobbs, still a consultant. The family venture includes Caroline Stewart Guthrie, who decided to venture into winemaking and landed in Argentina at Vina Cobos where she worked under Paul Hobbs’ direction. These days, she oversees the winery and her kids. Blair Guthrie, Caroline’s husband, is in charge of the winemaking. They both met while working at Crossbarn winery in Sonoma. James Stewart completes the circle.
Southside Cafe Yountville at Stewart Cellars offers a casual, yet elevated, atmosphere that organically fits alongside the legends on Washington Street. Its immediate NoYo (North Yountville) neighbors include Richard Redington’s Redd Wood casual eatery across the street, Ciccio, a traditional italian interpretation by the Altamura Family, Hillstone Restaurant Group’s R+D Kitchen and the iconic dive bar Panchas Yountville.
Southside, at 6752 Washington St., is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day. Seating is limited inside but enjoyable most of the year in the tables in between buildings. For more information, call 707-238-4632 or email info@southside.