Tucked inside a white brick building along Main Street St. Helena, French Blue sits behind a pure white marquee and one of the prettiest terraces in the area with sidewalk lined in waiting benches next to a crackling fire pit. Inside, a crisp and fresh décor of creamy white clapboard walls and rafter ceiling frames rattan benches trimmed in blue-striped pillows with stylish elements of linen staff uniforms, industrial light fixtures and pantry-style market offering selection of gourmet items.
French Blue is a welcoming all-day neighborhood restaurant located in the heart of downtown St. Helena, serving Napa Valley home cooking from Chef Philip Wang. Set in the old Vanderbilt building on the north end of downtown St. Helena, the restaurant’s name comes from the blue doors, which graced its entrance for over 50 years. The space features a large open kitchen with a wood burning oven and grill, two fireplaces, a communal table in the center and outdoor seating. The menu features rustic, wood-fired cooking, seasonally inspired from Rudd Farms’ local gardens – the best ingredients, simply prepared. The food is matched by a carefully edited selection of Northern California wines and handcrafted cocktails.
A daily breakfast and weekend brunch menu yields malted buttermilk waffles, crab baked eggs, and cheddar biscuit egg sandwich. The lunch and dinner menu merge for selections of roasted figs with prosciutto, wood oven flatbreads, and pulled pork sliders to start. Salads include wine grapes and caramelized goat’s cheese over dandelion greens or spinach topped with grilled swordfish. Main course spins casual brassier faire with a California twist from bacon-topped cheeseburger, Cowgirl omelet with trumpet mushrooms, or duo of Moulard duck with duck fat sautéed potatoes.
Bringing this restaurant to life is Managing Partner, Stanley Morris. Stanley brings 30 years of hospitality experience to French Blue. Most recently, he has acted as Managing Partner at the world-class dining and entertainment venue, Teatro ZinZanni in San Francisco, which he helped establish in 2001. Formerly, Stanley was Vice President of Operations for Stars Bar & Dining in Singapore, Seattle, and San Francisco. His California restaurant career began with famed restaurateur, Larry Mindel, where he was General Manager of Prego on Union Street in San Francisco followed by the position of Director of Operations for the first five Il Fornaio restaurants along the West Coast. Joining Stanley from Teatro ZinZanni are Nicole Whitten and Adam LaCanigna, who will oversee front of house operations as Restaurant Manager/Partner and Beverage Director/Partner, respectively.
Serving as Executive Chef is Philip Wang. A native of Indiana, Philip graduated from Tufts University with a major in Anthropology and decided to pursue his passion for cooking at the Culinary Institute of America. His first professional cooking experience was in San Francisco for Traci des Jardins at Rubicon and Jardinière, where he was part of the opening team. In 1998, he moved to Chicago’s Blackbird, where he worked under Chef Paul Kahan. Next stop, Manhattan, to help open Daniel Boulud’s eponymous restaurant, which eventually earned Four Stars from The New York Times. More recently, Philip served as Executive Chef of Mason’s in Sacramento, Napa Valley’s Carneros Inn, Truc in Boston, and Merriman’s Kapalua in Maui (which was recognized as a “Best New Restaurant” semifinalist by the James Beard Foundation in 2009). Philip has been featured in Food & Wine, Gourmet, Travel + Leisure, and The New York Times, among others, in addition to multiple local and national television appearances. At French Blue, Philip presents a simple, straightforward menu that highlights the best seasonal ingredients prepared in the restaurant’s large wood burning oven and grill.