An Outstanding Lunch at Pilar

We had an outstanding lunch at Pilar yesterday on our way up to Yountville for our second dinner at The French Laundry. The biggest challenge of this lunch was passing up some of the fabulous things on the menu to leave room for dinner a whole seven hours later.The 2004 Routas Roivière Provence Rosé by the glass had a beautiful peachy orange glow with hints of almond and mint. Very dry and refreshing.I had the Sardines on my last visit and couldn't resist trying them again with the mix of fennel, red onion, celery, and kalamata olive. The hen of the woods, oyster, and maitake mushrooms over goat cheese toasts with rich mushroom sauce was more mainstream but truly excellent. The plate looked like it had just come out of the dishwasher when we were finished.We split an entrée of Nantucket Bay scallops over black risotto with squid ink (a striking visual contrast). The portions at Pilar are quite substantial: each plate had six quarter-sized scallops over a generous bed of risotto. These were the best scallops I have ever had. Better even than the live ones at Sawa. They were so sweet and incredibly tender, with a faint orange hue inside and oozing browned butter. The flavor of the rice was subtle and not too heavy, perfectly balanced by the slight bitterness of the frisée. The Ceja Pinot Blend, which I had last time too, was earthy, slightly hot with practically no tannins, but a very good old world style wine.The warm lemon bread pudding had a delicious lemon custard that wasn't too sweet, with an almost yogurt-like note.Fun wine list feature: the left column has California wines... matched to each in the right column are similar wines from somewhere else in the world. The list has a varied and somewhat unusual selection that I would be very happy to spend more time exploring.After round two, Pilar remains high on my list of best places to eat in the Bay Area and is an excellent value. Lunch for two, with wine and tax, was $66.