Two of Cindy Pawlcyn’s top toques have opened shop in the heart of Sonoma Vally. Yountville alums Pablo and Erasto Jacinto opened Jacinto’s “Pot of Flavors” Kitchen in Oakmont Village (a sprawling senior community near Kenwood) in mid-January, 2012.
Foodies know the hardworking duo worked their way up through the kitchens of Mustard’s and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen over two decades, influencing many dishes and sharing credit on her cookbook, “Big Small Plates.” Pablo was most recently a chef at Silverado Resort (Napa) and C Casa in the Oxbow Market.
Now hanging their knives on the western side of the Mayacamas, word of their arrival is spreading fast. Their Oaxacan dishes have serious soul with Wine Country class. A maitre’d channeling Ricardo Montalban doesn’t hurt business either.
-Sauteed Shrimp with homemade chorizo and cilantro-jalapeno broth with grilled garlic bread ($9.50). Ground pork and shrimp swim in a twinkling-bright green sauce and buttery grilled bread. Keep a mint handy for afterward. Keep your fork handy for stabbing anyone who gets to close to this slurp-worthy dish.
– Erasto’s Sweet Corn Tamale: Warm queso fresco gives a creamy richness to these tiny tamales. ($5.95)
– Chicken Mole: Chiles, corn tortillas and chocolate are the staples of Grandma Jacinto’s secret sauce. Made daily, it’s a specialty of the house, poured over roasted chicken with white beans ($12.95)
– Guajillo Braised Lamb Tostada: Tender lamb and avocado sauce tops a crispy corn tortilla. Cool shreds of cilantro and cabbage cut the heaviness of the dish and add a Wine Country touch. ($13.50)
– Jacinto’s Caesar: Pablano Caesar dressing gives the usual salad a kick ($8).
– Don’t miss a sangria to start ($6) or warming rice pudding for dessert.
And the rest of the menu? Mostly crowd-pleasing standards: Grilled hangar steak, crispy pork loin cutlets, a grilled portobello mushroom sandwich, buffalo chicken wings. We were wowed by a seasonal lasagna with Bechamel sauce, Swiss cheese and tasty bites of veggies ($12) and the burger looked promising. But one hopes the menu won’t take a wrong turn to Blandville.
Yes, it’s the elephant in the room. Why Oakmont? Taking over a lackluster Mexican eatery inside the bustling senior community makes for a solid built-in audience. It’s close to Hwy. 12’s bustling tourist trade and winemaker lunchers. It may also mean the spice-lovers among us may have to make a special request for extra heat and seasoning. Adapting to the local clientele, the kitchen has already toned down a few dishes to a simmer.
The Jacinto’s are Wine Country vets with solid cred and so far, the fledgling “pot of flavor” bubbles with promise. Here’s to keeping those flames fanned.
Jacinto’s Pot of Flavors Kitchen, 6576 Oakmont Dr., Santa Rosa, 537-8933.
* PS Sorry for the appallingly bad photos.