me='viewport'/> the Blog Wine Cellar - Investing in Wine: French Blue To Open in Napa Valley on May 29th

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

French Blue To Open in Napa Valley on May 29th


New Restaurant from Architect Howard Backen, Interior Designer Lori Backen,
Winemaker Leslie Rudd; Stanley Morris to Serve as Managing Partner,
Philip Wang to Serve as Executive Chef/Partner

For Immediate Release - St. Helena, CA - French Blue, a beautiful and warm neighborhood restaurant located in the heart of Napa Valley from renowned architect Howard Backen, his wife interior designer Lori Backen and vintner Leslie Rudd (also owner of PRESS restaurant), will open on Tuesday, May 29th. Set in the old Vanderbilt building on the north end of downtown St. Helena, the restaurant’s name comes from the blue doors, which graced its entrance for over 50 years. The space will feature a large open kitchen with a wood burning oven and grill, two fireplaces, a communal table in the center and outdoor seating. The menu, from Executive Chef Philip Wang, features rustic, wood-fired Napa cooking, seasonally inspired from the local gardens of Rudd Farms, located on Mt. Veeder and at Edge Hill Vineyards – the best ingredients, simply prepared. The food is matched by a carefully edited selection of Northern California wines and handcrafted cocktails.

Upon opening, French Blue will serve dinner only, with opening hours from 5pm – 11pm, seven days a week. Beginning June 4th, the all-day restaurant will also offer lunch, with breakfast following on June 13th.

Bringing this restaurant to life is Managing Partner, Stanley Morris. Stanley brings 30 years of hospitality experience to French Blue. Most recently, he has acted as Managing Partner at the world-class dining and entertainment venue, Teatro ZinZanni in San Francisco, which he helped establish in 2001. Formerly, Stanley was Vice President of Operations for Stars Bar & Dining in Singapore, Seattle and San Francisco. His California restaurant career began with famed restaurateur, Larry Mindel, where he was General Manager of Prego on Union Street in San Francisco followed by the position of Director of Operations for the first five Il Fornaio restaurants along the West Coast. Joining Stanley from Teatro ZinZanni are Nicole Whitten and Adam LaCanigna, who will oversee front of house operations as Restaurant Manager/Partner and Beverage Director/Partner, respectively.

Serving as Executive Chef will be Philip Wang, formerly the Executive Chef of Merriman’s Kapalua in Maui, Mason’s in Sacramento, Napa Valley’s Carneros Inn, and Truc in Boston; Chef Phillip also worked in the kitchens of Blackbird in Chicago, Restaurant Daniel in New York, Jardinière in San Francisco, and several others.

French Blue’s menu by Chef Philip will showcase local food sourced largely from nearby Rudd Farms, located on Mt. Veeder and at Edge Hill Vineyards, with fresh baked goods crafted by Noe Valley Bakery Owner, Michael Gassen. The flavorful dishes will be simply prepared with excellence and care, using the best local ingredients. Nearly everything will be house-made from the bread to the honey and jams. The beverage program will feature wines from the growing regions of Northern California, local craft beers, and seasonal cocktails. French Blue’s retail market will offer house-made products and other specialty foods that highlight artisanal techniques.

Designed by Howard Backen with interiors by his wife, Lori Backen, French Blue captures the warmth and comfort of wine country living, re-imagined for its contemporary setting. Behind the restaurant will be Howard Backen’s newly designed office for his architecture firm, Backen, Gillam and Kroeger – making for an easy commute! One of California’s most renowned architects and recently named one of Architectural Digest’s 100 Designers, Howard Backen’s work includes wineries such as Harlan Estate, Ovid, Screaming Eagle, Rudd, Bond and Paul Hobbs; restaurants such as PRESS, Evvia, Kokkari and Il Fornaio; and hotels Meadowood Resort in Napa Valley, Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, and Sundance in Utah.

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