Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen, Saint Helena, CA

After another round of wine tasting in Napa Valley, The Brit and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice lunch. Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen was suggested to us, so we thought we would check it out.

When they say Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen they really aren’t kidding. I think this restaurant was a converted house and you enter through the back yard patio area. The restaurant has a bed of flowers along the entire bottom of the building which gives it a sort of charming cottage effect.

We had a reservation and we were sat fairly quickly. Our waitress was very prompt and greeted us with a smile. The restaurant is very cute both inside and outside. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly how they managed it, but despite the modern decor inside there was a real warmth and charm to the place.

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The restaurant is very popular so I would highly recommend that you make a reservation. They don’t have a dedicated parking lot either except a for a few spots on the street so keep that in mind and allow yourself plenty of time. We were lucky, and grabbed the last spot.

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Looking through the menu, it had so many great looking choices it was difficult for me to decide what to eat. Seeing and more importantly smelling the heavily laden garlic mussels as they were delivered made me hungry. I really debated on several things but somehow the chicken stood out to my eye. They called it Pollo Loco, and I had to wonder if I was loco ordering it. I didn’t know this restaurant and I was trusting them with ordering chicken. Yikes! I took a breath and made my order hoping for the best. The Brit in his normal way found something completely obscure to order; a Duck Burger. Um, as much as I like duck, this I had to try!

This is the part where it gets a little disappointing. Whilst the waitress had been super attentive it took FOREVER (nearly an hour after being seated) to get our bread and then our food. I was actually getting grumpy. I asked the waitress for the bread she promised and she told me that it was in the oven. Then I noticed that two tables that had been sat after we were had both their bread and their entrees. I was seriously frowning. To be fair, the waitress may have been trying to keep our food slow as we were expecting a guest to join us towards the end of the meal. However, I did tell her we weren’t waiting so I don’t know.

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In the meantime, The Brit and I ordered glasses of wine and were happily getting mellow from the lack of food and the addition of alcohol. I ordered a glass of Saintsbury Pinot Noir Rosé (2015), and The Brit ordered a NV Red Blend from Schoolhouse Vineyards. My glass of Saintsbury didn’t impress me much as I had been with previous sips of their rosé. I don’t know, maybe its the year, maybe it was me. To the contrary, the Red Blend was great. Round fruits and lots of flavor. It was just the kind of wine you want with a meal.

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When the bread arrived we both dug into it. It was delicious. Rustic and slightly warm served with unsalted butter and a salt cellar. I loved that idea. Salting your own butter makes so much sense. You can add as little or as much as you would like to your taste.

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Finally our plates arrived. My mouth hung open at the sight and the smell. Hands down this was the juiciest most beautiful chicken I have ever eaten in a restaurant. I could see the juices running down the chicken and I was just in heaven. When I took a bite I was even more impressed with the flavor. It had been marinaded in lime, cumin, garlic and other spices. It had what I would consider a guacamole/salsa on top with just a small bite of spice. It was CRAZY GOOD!

If that wasn’t enough to make me happy, they stuffed two Anaheim chilies with cheese and served the most flavorful black beans I have ever had the pleasure of eating on the side. They were so good I made The Brit try a bite even though he doesn’t tend to like black beans as they are so bland normally. He too loved them. The entire plate was delightful and I sat eating my food with a huge smile.

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The Brit’s Duck Burger came and it looked good, but would the flavor be a win? When I took my bite, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was different and interesting. I liked the shiitake mushroom ketchup with it, but didn’t feel as though there was quite enough of that. I would give it an overall good for flavor and texture, although it isn’t something I would order in the future. There were too many other things on the menu that excited me.

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After our plates were cleaned, our guest appeared and joined us for a coffee and dessert. We ordered the Lemon and Buttermilk souffle cake and the Passion fruit and pineapple creme brulee. Both were outstanding. Great flavors and textures and beautiful presentation. I am not even that much of a lemon lover and I ate my bites with glee. The creme brulee could have had a little bit better of a shell/crust but the tartness from the passion fruit and the sweetness from the pineapple made it an overwhelming win.

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We would put Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen on the highly recommend list. It was truly a wonderful lunch. We will be dining there again!

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