Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Backyard Restaurant: Unlike a thousand other restaurants with twee Mason jars and artisan farminess slathered all over their menus, Forestville’s Backyard Restaurant gets its dirt-cred authentically.
Sourcing, literally, from chef-owner Daniel Kedan’s own backyard culinary gardens and those of his ranch and farming neighbors, the Ad Hoc and Peter Lowell’s alum opened his small community-focused restaurant in October with a relatively simple menu that relies on seasonal produce, foragers and whole-animal butchery as its foundation.
Suffice to say Kedan and partners Chefs Seth Harvey and Marianna Gardenhire can actually tell you the name of the person who grew the restaurant’s lettuce, raised its chickens and made the hemp oil on your steak. Kedan also happens to document many of his adventures in local fields, pig pens and foraging jaunts on Facebook in case you care to see your pork chop-in-development.
With nods to the diverse palates of Sonoma County which are something akin to microclimates around these parts, you’ll find a seared steak accented with hemp oil or buttermilk onion rings next to gluten-free, vegan gnocchi with wild mushrooms so unctuous and rich you’ll swear its loaded with butter and beef stock, local water kefir, coveted Green Valley wines, greens with nutritional yeast and flatbread with arugula and lemon oil. Literally something for everyone.
Every Wednesday the restaurant serves a simple, comforting family-style fried chicken dinner, but also regularly features dishes like blanched broccoli rabe with delicate purses of burrata or butternut squash flatbreads or steaming pot pies throughout the week. Or one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten — an ice cold plate of baby Romaine, torn croutons, pork belly, and herbed dressing. Honestly, however, it seems almost unfair to suggest any particular dish because chances are Kedan’s menu will have moved on to whatever’s at its height of perfection this week. And that’s exactly the point of eating at Backyard. Often.
Like any restaurant, not every dish is perfect. But even when it misses the mark, each bite feels to wonderfully real. And quintisentially Sonoma County.
Backyard, 6566 Front St., Forestville (the former Sarah’s Forestville Kitchen), 707-820-8445. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner until 9p.m., brunch on Sunday. Facebook Page