Chloes French Cafe, Santa Rosa
Located in the most unlikely of spots–the Sutter Health Clinic–there’s little exterior signage to tip eaters off to this bonanza of French brasserie-style fare: homemade croissants, brioche, sandwiches (including a hearty Nicoise and zut alor, Croque Monsieur–Béchamel sauce, baked ham and Gruyere on bread) and soups.
But it’s the weekly specials you’re here for, the Bourguignon this week, and at the whim of the chef, things like Coq au Vin and more, usually under $10.
The Bourguignon, which is basically a long-simmered beef and vegetable stew with a heavy dose of red wine, is served on a square of gratin potatoes. I usually really dislike the stuff, because the meat can get tough and gamey and the veggies mushy. With chunks of still-intact mushroom and carrot comingling with beef that literally falls apart in your mouth, BiteClub has is rethinking Bourguignon altogether. The dish should be on the menu through the week and will hopefully reappear throughout the winter.
It should come as little surprise that behind the restaurant are two French brothers, Alain (the pastry chef) and Marc (the sommelier) Pisan whose family have been artisinal bakers for generations. Alain’s wife, Renee (an American) heads up the café and catering kitchen, having immersed herself in the art of French cuisine.
With the remnants of a hazelnut crème puff still on my fingers, BiteClub can confidently report that desserts are Parisian-quality.
Alain whips up feather-light éclairs, tarts and cakes each day, most under $3, and some under $2. Raspberry mousse tart? Please.
If you go: Take the Mendocino exit off 101 and head down Hopper Avenue (look for the Kohl’s Department Store). Make a right on Airway Drive (you think you’re headed for a dead-end) and turn left into the Sutter Health Clinic. Go to the far parking lot and enter through the main entrance. Chloe’s is on the left, just use your nose.
Chloe’s French Café, 3883 Airway Dr., Suite 145, Santa Rosa, 707.528.3095. Open 7:30am to 5pm weekdays. Closed on weekends.