Gastronomic Greetings, Napa Valley Restaurant Week

Give some time, money, and enthusiasm to a favorite region (and maybe find a new favorite eatery, too).

THE FINAL THIRD OF JANUARY, if it doesn't exactly seem like an authentic bridge to spring, can possess some of the characteristics of a balmier season. Oh, we're not saying that bundle-up blasts don't blow through town, damply, in late January, and we're not claiming that it is light late into the night. But there is a bit of a change, if only because there is talk of Valentine's Day, and Mardi Gras, and maybe even spring break and Easter, and rumors of the first desert wildflowers begin to arrive from friends taking road trips. And, well, wait a darn second; it actually does seem a little sunnier in the evening, suddenly, as February draws close. Adding to this general spring-visiting-winter vibe is the fact that some of the most robust Restaurant Weeks around occur during this January-ending period, including...

NAPA VALLEY RESTAURANT WEEK, which bakes and sautés and sauces and blithely throws a handful of croutons/cheese crumbles atop the whole yummy prospect from Sunday, Jan. 21 through Sunday, Jan. 28. The prices for these multiple course meals? A twenty-dollar bill will net you a very nice lunch in some dining rooms, while dinner will run under fifty bucks, at $36 or $46, at the "latest culinary hot spots" (and, yes, some "old favorites" are guaranteed to be in the appetizing mix). On that oh-so-NV list? The Restaurant at Auberge, Brasswood Bar & Kitchen, Charlie Palmer Steak House, and The Restaurant at CIA Copia, which is offering "supplemental wine pairings" in addition to its prix fixe meals (ten dollars for lunch, $20 for dinner). There are more lovely places beyond those four fine spots, so peruse now, and get to daydreaming about the last part of the first month, which isn't spring, not at all, but can wear springlike things well, say, like Restaurant Weeks, now and then.

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