Bettina Rouas knows a thing or two about restaurants. She and her sister, Claudia, grew up in them.
Their father ran the fashionable Nob Hill haunt, Etoile, while his brother was greeting guests a few blocks away at another popular San Francisco eatery, Fleur de Lys. While in high school, she worked at father Claude's Napa Valley venture, Auberge du Soleil, before moving into San Francisco to join front of the house staffs at a pair of well-liked dining destinations, Prego and Ciao.
At 21, Rouas assumed the role of general manager at Undice, at the time a very popular Italian bistro that was part of the early South of Market gentrification. Before she took on management roles back in the valley at The French Laundry, Bistro Don Giovanni and Bistro Jeanty, Rouas spent four years with family in France. She lived in Paris, in an apartment above Chez Angèle, a rustic neighborhood bistro, a name she shares with her beloved grandmother.
“Angèle is my middle name,” Rouas revealed when she opened her own downtown Napa eatery overlooking the Napa River. “I walked by that restaurant every day ... it was inspirational.” She readily admits she dreamed at the time that one day she’d open her own restaurant, a restaurant named Angèle.
Early next month, Rouas, her father -- who regularly pokes his nose in the door even though he's officially retired -- and an engaging staff will celebrate Angele's 13th anniversary with a special culinary salute to past and present.
Rouas and executive chef Rogelio Garcia are inviting friends and fans of Angele to gather at the Napa riverfront restaurant for a 13-course meal that will feature one dish from each year the rustic French bistro has been in business.
Chef Garcia is putting his own spin on some of the evening's fare. "We have menus from the past," he pointed out, "but not the exact recipes (from other chefs who've manned Angele's stoves)."
The evening will begin with Angele's acclaimed gougeres, followed by deviled quail eggs, a take on the current menu's deviled farm eggs. Garcia is cooking red beets in red wine, then dicing them for a ricotta-topped beet tartare.
Next up is a warm French lentil and oxtail salad, followed by foie gras mousse.
Garcia is baking small flaky tart shells -- made with flour and ground pistachios -- into which he'll place fried escargot with garlic cream as well as shaved radishes and turnips.
Angele's bouillabaisse features roasted lobster in a rich lobster broth accented with lemon and fennel. That course will be followed by the serving of creamy risotto crowned with shaved white truffles.
The final two savory courses include a unique shepherd's pie -- mini pumpkins stuffed with duck confit and topped with potato puree -- and a small New York steak with Bordelaise sauce and wild mushrooms from acclaimed local forager Connie Green.
Apple sorbet -- made from Normandy cider and local apples -- precedes a cheese course.
Dessert is a mini banana gratin -- a meal-ending treat that's been on the menu since the restaurant opened in 2002.
"I know that sounds like a lot of food," Rouas said, "but we'll be serving small portions ... a little bit of everything for all palates."
Rouas intends to pair a few courses with wines from Angele's opening year, 2002.
Cost of the celebratory 13-course dinner is $130 per person.
The restaurant management team is encouraging diners to make early reservations by calling (707) 252-8115.
Angele is located on Napa's Riverfront at 540 Main St.