Food

Tale of the Tape

Breaking Down Two New Wine Country Spots

Ec9bf0feb60f7c72897e8556a81dc76543d2ad235 PhotosChalkboard and Empire
There’s a battle raging in wine country. Well, kind of. You see, a new restaurant called Chalkboard just opened in Healdsburg. And a new restaurant called Empire just opened in downtown Napa. They’re both kind of glorious. But should you find yourself in need of a crunch-time decision this weekend, we took the liberty of pitting them against each other for your general amusement.

The Scene
Chalkboard: Washed oak floors. Nine-foot communal tables. Chalkboard specials. In other words: nothing like the old Cyrus space it just took over.
Empire: It’s kind of sexy and loungey. There’s a jellyfish tank.
Edge: Empire. Mostly because there’s a jellyfish tank.

The Food
Chalkboard: Small plates reign here. Think buttermilk fried quail and Dungeness crab tater tots.
Empire: Hey look, also small plates. They call them “modern tapas,” though. Moroccan BBQ prawns, DIY Mashed Potatoes and the like.
Edge: Chalkboard. They had you at crab tots.

The Wine
Chalkboard: They’ve got 10 local wine flight options.
Empire: Plenty of local Napa wines and two sparkling wines made specifically for them.
Edge: Push. There are no losers in wine.

The Extracurriculars
Chalkboard: Manhattans and Corpse Revivers and other cocktail classic-ery.
Empire: It turns into a late-night lounge on weekends, complete with DJs from the Bay Area.
Edge: Empire. Two words uttered way too infrequently in wine country: “late night.”

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