We visited the Calistoga Inn Restaurant for one reason: it’s really attractive. They have an outside patio by a little stream and every single time I had passed it, I wanted to have lunch there. I hoped the food was as good as the charming atmosphere.

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We went for a late lunch on a Wednesday. Surprisingly, there were still quite a few people eating at nearly 2 p.m. Maybe like us, all of the other diners had been enjoying wineries and needed to rest before the next round.  It was a perfect day in Calistoga and it was pleasant to sit on their patio.

I have to tell you, sometimes writing this blog is very hard. Especially when you have something favorite you really want to eat, but can’t because you need to eat and experience new restaurants and new dishes. All Seasons Bistro was just down the block and I was dreaming of their burger. But no, I was good and decided you, our reader, are more important than my perfectly cooked and juicy truffle burger. Am I working up any sympathy here?? No? I didn’t think so.

I was with a group of people so we each tried something different. We ordered: A summer mixed green salad, pizza fungi, “The Best Burger”, the summer risotto, and The Santa Fe grilled cheese sandwich. We finished our meal with two desserts: dark chocolate mousse finished with a Chambord raspberry coulis, and a lemon icebox pie with blueberry compote.

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I will start with my pizza. The cook was perfect, and the crust was good quality, but it was just blah bland. I had even ordered some prosciutto on top to give it a salt profile but that didn’t help. The cheese and the white sauce were just not enough to hold that pizza together.

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One of my guests ordered the burger. It was cooked correctly as she ordered a well done burger (the horror!), but she said there was no flavor to the meat or the sauce that was on the bread (It was probably because it was cooked to death! – oops, did I say that?). It wasn’t bad, in her opinion, it simply wasn’t good.

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Another one of the diners in our group ordered the mixed salad and the summer risotto. There were sounds of “Nom, Nom, Nom” as she devoured the salad. I had a taste and she was right. Absolutely delicious. A perfect combination with a winning salad dressing.

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However, when the risotto came she was very disappointed. The risotto was simply a mess. It was lacking cream, the mushrooms tasted acidic as if they were canned rather than being fresh and the whole thing wasn’t cooked well. She ate her food with a frown. I frowned too as I tasted it.

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The winner of the day was my mother’s Santa Fe grilled cheese. That was delicious. A really nice combination of flavors to make up a grown-up grilled cheese.

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The desserts too got mixed reviews. None of us enjoyed the lemon ice box pie. It tasted like they ran out of real lemons and instead used a low quality lemon extract. It had a fake metallic tang to it that wasn’t pleasant. The blueberries were over syrupy.  On the other hand, we all enjoyed the dark chocolate mousse. The only problem with it was the name. It wasn’t really a mousse. It was more the texture and density of a pot au chocolate. I would never call what we ate a mousse.

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The service was good, although more attention could have been paid to keeping the drinks refreshed.  All in all it was a pleasant dining experience.

The question is: Would I return or recommend?  Well for what we had, it was expensive. Our four meals came out to $125.00. The patio was pleasant, but I don’t think it was good enough to justify that price for a few sandwiches. I’m very meh about going back any time soon. What a shame because the place is a beauty, and the service was good. They have a gem there if they up their quality of food.


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