Syrah closing

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Chef Josh Silvers will close Petite Syrah (formerly known as Syrah) for good this fall. And at least part of the decision is based on Silvers’ own recent 40 pound weight loss.

” I decided Petite Syrah had run its course and it was time for a complete change.  I used to love cooking and eating foie gras and pork belly and very rich foods, but I put on a lot of weight and I got high blood pressure,” said Silvers. He’s among a number of local chefs who’ve lost a significant amount of weight recently (Mark Stark and Sondra Bernstein among them) in order to improve their health.

“Last year, I started working out and eating healthier food; granted I still indulge in rich food but with a lot more moderation.  My whole lifestyle changed and is more balanced.  I am very happy and much healthier.  High end food takes a lot of time and is expensive.  I eat much healthier now, and I want to share with the public how much better we all can feel by eating better and spending less,” said Silvers.

Silvers opened Syrah in Railroad Square 1999, becoming the go-to for Wine Country classics like foie gras, Liberty Duck and Dungeness Crab Cakes. Two years ago, after opening nearby Jackson’s (a more casual eatery focused on pizzas, burgers and cocktails), Silvers re-invented the restaurant as Petite Syrah. The tweezer-perfect small plates that included 63 degree eggs, pork belly and spec ravioli garnered critical approval, but failed to gain the kind of widespread audience of Syrah.

After several changes, Silvers has decided to close the Syrah chapter. But isn’t done with the location.

“At this time and in this country, I think our health and our budgets are extremely important to us.   I want to open a place where I can take my family and have everyday delicious comfort food.  My lifestyle has changed radically this last year, and I want to reflect that in my restaurant.  I have a family and I think Santa Rosa could use a restaurant where you can take your family and have everyday delicious comfort food with some options for special occasions (what I call my “cheat days),” said Silvers.

He’s mum on exactly what the new concept will entail or when it will open, but knowing Silvers, something’s definitely in the works. Until the closure, he’ll be featuring a number of “best of” menus. The final winemaker dinner, with J Winery, happens Aug. 2.




Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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  1. Hello, what should I do I have a $175.00 gift card????

  2. Kudo’s To Josh, I egarly await the next chapter!

  3. Thanks for all the fun Syrah memories Josh and Regina. We feel so special to have been a part of such an amazing restaurant. I personally will never forget some of my meals there – as they were top 5 of my life! Best of luck on BLD !
    J & G

  4. Regina, I hope you have the best of luck in future endeavours. I truly do.

    What I would like to see is a restaurant that has 1-3 dishes they do better than anyone else….the types of dishes that keep people coming back. Paired with specials and other foods that might also become staples with time.

    For example…Le Central in SF….they have cassoulet that they are known for. They’ve been open for decades, even under different owners, they are still making money and people go there daily sometimes.

    Lets create places that will also be open for years so that everyone in Sonoma county is constantly seeing places go under. We want them to stay open….we want to keep going back because with long runnign restaurants comes a culture of it’s own. Instead, with so many places closing, no one knows who is coming and who is going and the consumer is constantly being made to feel like a culinary guinea pig.

  5. As always it’s a balance. Take the Gypsy Cafe for example. They work to create a desired comfort food menu that is as natural, seasonal and local as possible – and – cost-effective. When I finally caught up to this stream I realized that this discussion (shy of Star Trek references) could be a valuable monthly forum involving the Ceres Project, chefs like Mark and Josh, cafes like the Gypsy and farm to table advocates.

  6. Thanks Josh

    Syrah was one of the restaurants my wife and I visited on our first trip to Sonoma. When I returned a few years later for a job interview, I made a point of visiting Syrah during my brief visit. Now that I live here I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a little about the man behind Syrah, and like Heather has said, it’s hard to find a more honest, talented, and approachable chef. I have no doubt his next venture will be held to the same high standards he’s always had. Good luck Josh, and thank you.

  7. Noah, this was eloquently said and I couldn’t agree more with each point. Doubtful it penetrated the sorry-Stephen’s brain, but nicely done here regardless.

  8. Suggestion: Open a high quality restaurant that uses less calories. I do it at home all the time. There are recipe books out there on what to do. You can do low calorie enchiladas with less fatty ingredients.

    I know one problem is OIL. One thing you can do it use a very light amount of oil & then use water to fry up in, and onions – use water, non-stick pan and salt on the onions – voila it’s great.

    And butter – of course I am using coconut oil instead of butter, that could be an option, but not everyone can deal with coconut oil and it is high calories but good for you, like an avo is made with good fats.

    You can make so many great tasting but low cal recipes. I would put the calorie counts and nutritional content on your menu. I think a restaurant like that would actually be a BOON to the county and the city, rather than a bad thing. There are many business people out there that need to watch their salt content & cholesterol, you could serve them tasty low cal, low salt foods.

    High fat foods are making everyone fat. Just look around at everyone in the county. We need to have restaurants that serve LOW FAT foods. Regina & Josh, are you up to the challenge? I think you are, or rather I am hoping you are. You can do your previous menu, just make it LOW FAT.

  9. As much as I tried to stop myself from responding to you, I just can’t. So let me enlighten you as an owner of Petite Syrah and the chef’s wife. (Yes, we do read these and care very much about what our guests have to say). We chose to close Syrah because we wanted to NOT because we had to. Restaurants close in the 1st year because they have to or in 5 because they run out of money. However, after 14 years in business with Syrah and Jacksons is still rockin’ . This is just a change because we believe it is necessary for us to keep it fun and stay up with the times. That is all… We are really excited! and we hope Santa Rosa will be too.
    Stephen, I am sorry you didn’t like your dinner — had you told us then — we would have tried to please you before you left. However, now I think that just might be impossible for us.
    The new restaurant will be very different and we are rejuvenated by the thought of it!
    PS: To Steve (the other Steve) : thanks!

  10. Thank you for that! It is you and our guests like you that were our final inspiration to just go for it ….we love what we do and we aim to please….
    Regina aka “Chef’s wife” aka “Jackson’s Mom” (-;

  11. Haters got to hate.

  12. Dear god…should I have called upon the Gods of Food to point out that orzo is not Rissoto? I’m summon them shortly.

    I don’t buy for one second that this place is closing because of chef’s life choice. That would be like an attorney “evolving” to a paralegal. Then he loses some weight and decides he no longer wants to make a living.

    What I’m trying to point out is that there are far too few restaurants in Sonoma County that you can actually go, get a good meal and do it daily if you wanted. Instead, Sonoma County is too rural to support anything types of restaurants that aren’t BJs, brewhouses like the stALEworks, or the full of bean and/or rice joints. EVeryone bitches, cries and moans when places like Syrah go out of business, but it’s just not the type of place you go daily, or weekly for most people.

    YES PEOPLE, IT IS POSSIBLE TO HAVE SOPHISTICATED WELL MADE FOOD THAT DOESN’T COST 50-100/PERSON. Why has La Gare been open so long? Why are all the “Joes” restaurants still open with original menues? How long has burger city in RP been open, a place that uses local beef, yet IN and Out gets the press. Locals in Sonoma County do not have the palette to support fine dining…and that my friends is almost verbatim from one of our most well loved chefs in the area.

  13. Stephen-

    You said:

    “ORZO AS DEFINED Orzo (Italian for “barley”, from Latin hordeum), also risoni (It.: “big rice”) is a form of short-cut macaroni, shaped like a large grain of rice. Orzo can be served alone, as a soup accompaniment, or baked in a casserole.”

    Got to love the person that separates themselves from the “clueless… eating class” and uses Wikipedia as a source/definition. What expansive food knowledge you have!

    I didn’t want to jump into this, but that’s just ridiculous.

    Affordable food is available. It is. Good, healthy food can be found or made at home and it’s not hard. Times are tough, but Petite Syrah was never trying to bridge the gap between food stamps and Whole Foods.

    You want to be served? You pay for it. You want to experience a meal infused with creativity, experience, and artistry? You pay more.

    If you choose to stay after being made aware of what you are going to pay for your meal, you have no one to blame but yourself. If there was a meal that was served improperly or not to your liking, the onus is on you to speak up. It will be fixed. And you might get a free dessert. But don’t be an ass because you’re an ass and blame the restaurant for not being affordable or accuse them of being agriculturally ignorant or not locally-minded.

    Restaurants don’t have to cater to you. Or to anyone. And with that comes your right to eat where you choose. Yes, the economy is changing minds and habits, and affecting higher-end establishments. But many are thriving and they’re not concerned with you. The wealthy are still spending, and they’re still eating out.

    Additionally, it’s silly of you to assume you know every motivation behind the closure/transition. Half of this article was about the chef/owner’s life changes and desire to share his new outlook, yet you dismiss that entirely.

    Enjoy your Beef Wellington. I am glad it is available and done well in these parts, but I am also quite glad we have talented and daring restaurants that are willing to step out of the Original Joe’s format and try something new and different. Chefs that push the familiar to the side as a means to introduce a willing clientele to ideas and preparations that challenge the status quo.

    Petite Syrah may be ending, but it offered something unique and admirable, and many were and are fans of their work and service.

    You don’t have to love or even like what they are doing and have done, but manipulating and interpreting a situation to fit your own agenda doesn’t make your opinion true or right, only aggressively off-putting.

    Next time you want a to celebrate an event, or treat yourself to a special night with service and style that marks the occasion, enjoy the free refills at Fresh Choice.

  14. I completely lost track of Syrah a few years ago. Never a bad meal or anything …just a style that is available a lot of places and a location that was not the ambience I look for in a special meal out. I like the idea of nearly guiltless culinary pleasure. It would set the place apart from the dozen or so special guilty pleasure (please don’t list the calories) places I go already. The location would also be great for a lighter lunchtime meal for those of us who work downtown and are looking for a healthy, tasty, affordable lunch out with friends and colleagues.

  15. I love the PD comments here as usual, at no point did Heather Irwin explicitly say that beef wellington was not worthy of being in “fine dining” establishments, she used it as an example if you re-read it. Why does every one thing said here get taken out of context so fast?

  16. “Wine Country” please…talk about tired. Maybe Sonoma County should get back to agriculture so restaurants can finally use local produce with having to use it as a selling point and more as smart business. I don’t eat at Applebees and I don’t need a one gallon wine glass to sip my wine.

    ORZO AS DEFINED Orzo (Italian for “barley”, from Latin hordeum), also risoni (It.: “big rice”) is a form of short-cut macaroni, shaped like a large grain of rice. Orzo can be served alone, as a soup accompaniment, or baked in a casserole. Once again, another show of just how clueless the eating class is around here.

    When I say a few times…lets just say more than a few, and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars worth of dining. That is reason these places go out of business because they are not catering to those of us that seek out good food at an affordable price.

    So sweet Stevey, looks like all your food know how isn’t enough to keep another Sonoma County restaurant from going belly up!

  17. Well considering that you spent days on end touting the coming of In and Out Burger, maybe those kinds of standards should be reintroduced. But alas, it appears you’ve thumbed your nose at western standards.

    I hate to say it, but you saying Beef Wellington is not worthy of being in fine dining completely contradicts your response to another post I made before concerning Chef Josef. He had Beef Wellington on his menu….so would you say he was just old fuddy duddy serving tired dishes?

    As for evolving…how about devolving and stopping the nonsense that has become “hick chic” in Sonoma County. The oldest and most successful restaurants in California are those that still serve traditional foods that people can enjoy and know the value of what they are spending. Instead, people like you, yes, I’m sure you’re a very nice person, but people like you nonetheless, have no clue what running a restaurant is really like. Too many “chefs’ are opening up with rediculous rents and offering a mish mash of food that they think sounds high class. I’m sorry but evolving doesn’t mean going from high end food to bbq. That says they should have been doing the comfort food to begin with and build from there!! Do tell me if my logic has failed anywhere

  18. Unfortunately, Captain, budget cuts have disabled the holodeck :-(

  19. Exercising would be way more fun on a holodeck.

  20. Interesting, Captain. Too many humans want to focus solely on what they’re eating. That’s only half of the equation to health. The other half is exercise. Humans increasingly will do ANYTHING to avoid moving a muscle. “Sugar makes you fat!” “Fat makes you fat!” Not exactly: eating more calories than you burn off makes you fat, regardless of whether those calories came from sugar, fat, meat, or veggies. Yes, sugar is the most evil of all the foods, yes even worse than fat, but effective exercise mitigates that. Once again, the actual equation for health is both food intake AND exercise.

  21. I am really looking forward to a place that I can take my kids and get great food! I think Josh is a fabulous chef, as well as person. I am excited to support his next endeavor!

  22. ” Two years ago, after opening nearby Jackson’s (a more casual eatery focused on pizzas, burgers and cocktails)”

    You want to gain a bunch of weight? Eat a lot of pizza and burgers.

    Fat, butter, and foie gras are not the problem.

    It’s the bread, pasta, etc.

  23. My understanding is that fat does not make you fat. SUGAR makes you fat. Sure, fat should be in moderation but people who cut out most fat end up indulging in more sugar. I wonder who has been advising the chef. I believe too much pasta is worse for people than too much fat.

  24. I’m ashamed to share a name with the poor, lost soul who posted above (Stephen). I love these people who critique restaurants for offering “rare foods” and complain about “huge wine glasses”. Really Stephen? We get it, you love Applebees. Small wine glasses and no menu variations to throw off your under-evolved palette. To each their own. And you don’t know where to get French, German or Italian food? Try France, Germany or Italy. You’re in wine country, fine dining and “rare” elements are welcomed here. And if you’re so horrified by your $40 lamb, maybe it’s YOU and not the chef’s who are too business minded about food.

    Oh, and by the way genius – “orzo” is the Italian word for barley. And barley risottoto is very common as a side dish to things like lamb. So stop getting your terminology off the side of a pasta-roni box, and you’ll be less disappointeded with the dishes you order. Or did they not explain this to you at the Applebees bar table?

    You have to love how this guy bashed Syrah but mentions he went there “a few times”. Sounds like he has more of an issue with his budget and lack of food knowledge than with a place he kept going back to. Good riddance to you too El-Stephano!

  25. For excellent, affordable vegetarian cuisise check out Gaia’s Garden! They’ve won “Best Vegetarian” Restaurant 2011 and 2012 in BoHo Best Of’s and they deserve it. One Mendocino just north of the JC.

  26. Vegetarian food that goes beyond JUST pasta with no meat would be nice. Something with protein. :)

  27. Wow, that is all I can say. I’m excited for whatever Josh does next. I love the idea of something healthier, I’m not as young as I used to be, so I try to eat better too!

  28. Seems to me that trying to evolve with the times is kind of part and parcel with most good restaurants. Otherwise, we’d all still be eating aspic, beef Wellington and Baked Alaska in “fine dining” restaurants.

    It seems to me that Josh — who is the least uppity chef I’ve ever met, btw — is trying to evolve and serve the foods that are more appropriate for the time. It wasn’t that long ago that Sonoma County was defined by “Wine Country” cuisine that was all about foie gras and other luxury foods. That time is passing (or past, depending on who you ask).

    Using local products, paying good staff and serving luxury items like foie gras aren’t big money-makers. Yes, a restaurant can charge high prices for things like Wagyu beef, lobster, etc, but the highest profits are in non-alcoholic drinks, wine mark-ups and either their daily specials or simple dishes (like pasta or chicken). Just my take, but I can say I’ve actually been in a lot of restaurant kitchens and know the people. There are unscrupulous folks out there, but Josh ain’t one of them, in my opinion.

  29. Insert shrieking sound here! Noooooooooo! While I do look forward to healthy options, Syrah is amazing and I hate to see it close. The 63 degree egg always stuns as does the pork belly. And the chefs tasting menu is our go-to for special occasions. I do wish Josh well. Sigh.

  30. Good riddance! I went there a few times….substandard and paid through the nose.

    For example…I ordered lamb shank when it was Syrah…was supposed to be lamb shank with rissoto. I got my meal. The lamb was mangled, the bone hardly browned from roasting and then the topper. The rissoto wasn’t rissoto….it was ORZO! I couldn’t believe it. I paid over 40 dollars for a lamb shank over orzo.

    Maybe if morons would stop opening restaurants and trying to offer Foie Gras and other rare foods, maybe they should figure out a business model that will withstand the test of time. Stop trying to “recreate” their menues and offer up something affordable. Instead, they try to trick everyone with huge wine glasses and uppity chefs behind the counters. Where can one go to get European standards…French, German, Scandanavian…Italian, Polish, Greek? This is another example of someone wanting to make huge margins off food they “think” is high end, but have to water it down because they can’t move their inventory. Food is a business…for the chefs and owners. Food is emotional for the consumer. Get a clue and give the consumer something to remember…which doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg.

  31. It’s nearly impossible to find a restaurant with a consistently higher quality and creativity then what Josh, Regina, and team have brought to Syrah. The ingredients, presentation, service, and ambiance have never wavered.

    I know that because a significant portion of my disposable income has been left there over the last decade.

    This leaves a large hole in Santa Rosa’s dining scene. Looking forward to what they’ll bring to their next venture. Syrah 2.0….waistline reduction with a vengeance.

  32. I honestly don’t know what the future holds for Josh’s new place, but I see so much possibility in the area of eating healthy(er) when eating out. I spend so much time in restaurants, and sometimes I feel like adding tons of butter, salt and fat is just an easy way to create flavor without really working hard on the food itself.

    That’s a huge generalization, and eating a nice marbled steak isn’t something I want to give up. But when I eat out, I don’t always want fat, fat, fat. Its nice to have a choice.

  33. Yay! I look forward to a wonderful new chapter in this restaurant’s creative life filled with lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and dairy items for healthy and fun living!

  34. Josh and Reg, Thanks for your wonderful food, smiles, business and memories. It’s been a great ride! On to another chapter. Love you both.

  35. I hope that the new format will include a healthy sampling of vegetarian dishes. This option is sorely lacking in most restaurants in Sonoma County and would be greatly appreciated.

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