Inside Napa: A Quick Peek at the Kitchen Door @ Oxbow Market

The family-style seating area at the Kitchen Door. Two-tops and four-tops are located on either side, along with some bar-style seating.

If you were ever a fan of Martini House in St. Helena, the first thing you need to know about the Kitchen Door at Oxbow is that the mushroom soup is back. Good thing, too. I developed a lasting taste for that very soup when I used to cook at the Martini House — in those days, I ate a little mushroom soup almost every night, ladling the last remainders over cubes of left-over walnut bread, which I had gathered from the pastry station.  Usually eaten out of a humble, plastic deli container, this delicious mixture of soup and starch formed a kind of mushroom porridge that allowed me to quickly wolf it down while cleaning up for the night (sipping the soup would require too much time and attention, especially with last call looming). For chef Todd Humphries, his cream of mushroom soup has become the definition of a signature dish, something so dialed in that it’s developed a following over the last 10 years. No doubt, I’m happy to see that it’s back in the valley, and even more than that, I have high hopes for the Kitchen Door itself, a restaurant that employs quite a few people whom I’ve become friends with over the years.

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With its official opening looming, the Kitchen Door hosted a soft opening last night, serving about 170 covers in about three hours. The volume and the turn-out was way more than the restaurant had anticipated, which to me, bodes well for the Kitchen Door’s actual opening, which is on Tuesday, June 14. From that point on, the Kitchen Door will be serving lunch and dinner seven days per week, with plans for brunch being developed for August. I stopped by the new space today to get a daylight shot of the restaurant’s interior, which offers all kinds of different options in terms of seating. I think it’s a smart and comfortable space overall, and one that reveals that the Kitchen Door will actually have very little in common with the former Martini House, mushroom soup aside.

Not-so-great snapshot of the monitor above the Kitchen Door's ordering counter. But the picture does reveal the menu, if you click on the photo. The Kobe burger, the beef carpaccio, and the candy cap bread pudding also recall Martini House.

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