1140 Main St., Napa
Phone: (707) 252-3292
The former Ubuntu space in Napa has returned to the culinary scene in the form of Torc, a contemporary American restaurant from chef/proprietor Sean O'Toole. It's a labor of love for the chef, who sharpened his skills in the kitchens of Quince, Cotogna, Bardessono, and the Mina Group restaurants before opening this, his first solo project. The restaurant is named after the Gaelic word for "boar," which appears on O'Toole's family coat of arms, and while the food won't be Gaelic-inspired, O'Toole sees the motif as a symbol of a lively and hospitable dining experience.
The menu draws on American and international flavors and relies on locally-sourced ingredients, some of which come via O'Toole's friend, famed forager Connie Green. Small bites like violet-artichoke soup with chanterelle mushrooms and Dungeness crab salad lead into entrees like Pacific sablefish with roasted pumpkin and matsutake mushroom or a roast chicken for two with black spice, coconut rice and spicy bok choy. (See the dinner menu here.) For desserts, O'Toole has enlisted the help of pastry chef Elizabeth Gentry, whose menu includes treats like lemon verbena ice cream with confit quince and honey shortbread, plus cheese options from Roth Kase and Cowgirl Creamery. (Here's the opening dessert menu.).
As for drinks, 80 wines by the bottle and an edited list of options by the glass will be on offer, and cocktails will be en route in the coming months. Ubuntu's good-looking stone and timber interior has been refreshed by architects Abueg Morris, with some changes to the floor plan and updated lighting, banquettes and materials. The roomy 90-person dining room includes a 17-seat bar, which complements a 20-seat patio and a private dining room. For now, hours are 5:30-9pm daily; look out for brunch service to begin in January.
· Main Street dining scene gets added luster with Torc [Napa Valley Register]
· Ubuntu Space Finally Taken, Becoming Torc [~ ESF ~]