Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen (St. Helena, CA)
My wife and I were on Day 2 of our stay in Napa Valley, and we were in serious need of tasty food after a full morning of wine tastings. Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen was only a few minutes away from the winery, so I had it on our itinerary for lunch.
Cindy's is a fun little bistro in St. Helena, just a tad north of Napa. We had a reservation, though it really wasn't necessary on a weekday. There is a perfect courtyard for outdoor seating, especially given the sunny, mild afternoon weather. It has nice shade from the overhanging tree, as well as a good breeze blowing through. This was the perfect outdoor ambiance for wine country.
Although the majority of Cindy's menu consists of salads and sandwiches, today's lunch specials included a few "Supper Club" southern options. Intrigued, I ordered their Louisiana Hot Links, which come with braised collard greens and mac n' cheese. I was certainly looking forward to the hot links, but given my mounting hunger, I decided to nosh on an appetizer of Jalapeno Hush Puppies first.
The hush puppies were beautifully cooked. They had a great, crisp crust with a soft and fluffy interior. This wasn't the typical grainy cornmeal batter. I could definitely taste the jalapenos, although I didn't really catch much spice. The accompanying Tabasco remoulade definitely added some heat, but it was creamy and delicious at the same time.
After I had completely polished off the hush puppies, it was time to dive into my Louisiana hot links.
The mac n' cheese was creamy and homemade. I really enjoyed the crisp crust on top, though what I found beneath was cheesy and delicious. It was more of a sharp cheese, which worked very nicely. I'm not really a big greens fan in general, maybe it's the carnivore in me. These, however, were very good. The grilled onions and bacon added a lot of flavor.
As for the hot links, they were probably grilled rather than smoked, but were still nice and tasty. They had crisp casings and a good char from the grill. These were tight casings around a medium-grind meat. They weren't oozing grease like the typical East Texas links. I found a really interesting spice blend, although not much spiciness. In fact, for something called "hot links," there was barely any heat at all. Then, on my last bite, I caught a big hit of pepper which actually made me tear up a little. I think the potential for the hot links is definitely there, but they need to work on consistency some.
It wasn't the best attempt at barbecue I've seen, but Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen was a good lunch spot nonetheless.
Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
1327 Railroad Ave.
St. Helena, CA 94574