Viola Pastry Boutique and Cafe

Viola Pastry Boutique and CafeWith a menu and cozy cafe vibe as familiar as an old quilt, Viola Pastry Boutique and Cafe is That Place.

You know, that one spot you instantly think of when a friend says, “Where should we meet for lunch?” Where you sneak out with a co-worker for a mid-morning cupcake or dawdle away the afternoon over goat cheese salads and gossip. Where strollers are propped next to briefcases and yoga bags. That Place.

One of the popular sugar-pushers from last summer’s Wednesday Night Market, owner Jennifer McMurray recently renovated the Montgomery Village space
with warm wood tables, fresh flowers and sparkling chandeliers, along with black and white photos of her family to give it
a homey feel. Her mom waits tables and helps in the kitchen, along with
a helpful young staff.

The all-day cafe goes well beyond frosting and sprinkles, however.

jennifer.jpgThe kitchen starts at 7am with eggs benedict, breakfast burritos, omelets, biscuits and gravy, chillaquiles, hash and homemade waffles.

After 11am, expect heartier bistro fare: Boutique-y salads (fig & goat cheeese, beet with sherry vinaigrette), rib-sticking soups, burgers, sandwiches (BLT, Fried Chicken, Pulled Pork, Chicken Salad or Croque Monsieur), fries and macaroni and cheese, all ordered at the
counter and delivered to your table. Lunchtime prices are reasonable, with most eats between $5 and $10.

soup.jpgAfter 4pm, the cafe transitions again for dinner with daily specials
(chicken pot pie, tomato-basil risotto) in addition to the lunch menu, with waiter service until 8pm.

It’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Think of it as Our Place.

Viola Boutique & Cafe, 709 Village Court, Santa Rosa, 544-8830.

Author: biteclub

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

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40 Comments

  1. I enjoyed Viola’s.. I like the decor and ambiance. The pastry’s are phenomenal, although just a preference, I do like my eclair’s with custard, rather than cream.
    I’ve had the Ham and Cheese Panini, the Quiche, which I had never had before, and the incomparable, Chicken and Waffles. My God, if anything was so wrong, it was right. I never thought anything could taste like that, salty and sweet, and crunchy…*swoon*
    I love the Cheese Danish, and the Strawberry Shortcake, but my ultimate favorite, is the Cheesecake. It is heavenly. Soft with sliced Blood Oranges on it. Hmmmm….
    Obviously, it has been some time since the majority of the previous commenters have eaten there, but I would encourage some of them to try it one more time. It seems like alot of the problems that were there in December, have been resolved.

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  2. I enjoyed Viola’s.. I like the decor and ambiance. The pastry’s are phenomenal, although just a preference, I do like my eclair’s with custard, rather than cream.
    I’ve had the Ham and Cheese Panini, the Quiche, which I had never had before, and the incomparable, Chicken and Waffles. My God, if anything was so wrong, it was right. I never thought anything could taste like that, salty and sweet, and crunchy…*swoon*
    I love the Cheese Danish, and the Strawberry Shortcake, but my ultimate favorite, is the Cheesecake. It is heavenly. Soft with sliced Blood Oranges on it. Hmmmm….
    Obviously, it has been some time since the majority of the previous commenters have eaten there, but I would encourage some of them to try it one more time. It seems like alot of the problems that were there in December, have been resolved.

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  3. I enjoyed Viola’s.. I like the decor and ambiance. The pastry’s are phenomenal, although just a preference, I do like my eclair’s with custard, rather than cream.
    I’ve had the Ham and Cheese Panini, the Quiche, which I had never had before, and the incomparable, Chicken and Waffles. My God, if anything was so wrong, it was right. I never thought anything could taste like that, salty and sweet, and crunchy…*swoon*
    I love the Cheese Danish, and the Strawberry Shortcake, but my ultimate favorite, is the Cheesecake. It is heavenly. Soft with sliced Blood Oranges on it. Hmmmm….
    Obviously, it has been some time since the majority of the previous commenters have eaten there, but I would encourage some of them to try it one more time. It seems like alot of the problems that were there in December, have been resolved.

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  4. Viola’s was disappointing. I order the corque misure (misspelled) wasn’t a hot bubbling mass of cheese I am expecting with that sandwich. My mom ordered the hamburger, and the presentation was lacking. While the fires were good, the lack of a pickle or tomato or onion for 9 dollars was sad. The ice tea was ok, the small craf of water should be larger or elminated all together. I probably won’t be going back. The day my mother and I were there the cafe was overstaffed and under performing, for those who had a glowing experience, I am happy for you, but that just wasn’t my experince.

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  5. I went for lunch yesterday and really wanted the onion soup but expressed my concern ordering it because of the reviews. The,(very sweet),counter girl encouraged me to try it and it was delicious, loaded with well cooked onions and a hint of sherry. A slice of toasted bread topped with melted cheese was adequate but not what most of us are used to,(gooey cheese hanging over the top of the bowl). I was happy and satisfied and am looking forward to trying breakfast and dinner there…

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  6. OK, I went for the 3rd time today. Ordered the egg salad sandwich. It came with a fairly large side of greens & balsamic and was a generous portion…the egg salad itself was excellent. Since I don’t particularly like wheat bread, I ended ordering (paid separately) one of their homemade English muffins because the patrons at the table next to mine had one and it looked really good. I had the egg salad on it instead. Their homemade English muffins are GREAT. Next time I’ll ask if they will do that instead of the wheat bread, without me having to order/pay separately (which made the sandwich $8.50 instead of $7.00). I will reiterate, after reading the below post about the pork hash…the hash dishes really need to come with the choice of toast, biscuit or English muffin. I loved my veggie hash the last time, but I will not order it again if I have to pay extra for toast. $10.00 for pork hash isn’t bad if the portion is fairly generous. Please consider that owners!! I feel a bit OCD repeatedly posting about this place, but I really, really like it and I haven’t had a bad meal there (although I will most likely stay away from the french onion soup unless someone posts that it was actually good). I actually like how we order/pay at the counter now, because when you’re done eating, you can just leave when you want to instead of waiting for a check.

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  7. This place was a big bummer.
    The pork hash was two bites for $10, quite literally two poached eggs, a cupful of potatos o’brien with a few strands of last night’s pork mixed in. Their cheapest ingredients at a premium.
    I told the waitress I felt a salad or toast should be included with such a small portion. She assented to the small size, and appeared to be scared of mentioning it to the cook and owner (safe to say this wasn’t the first time someone has complained). Needless to say, no salad or toast came to the table.
    I’ve come to accept $10 breakfasts, even in Santa Rosa, but this was a real slap in the face. F**k this place.

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  8. Wow, quite mixed reviews for this place, huh? I can say I had lunch here today with three coworkers and we were all very pleased with our food and the service. I had the croque monsieur, which was delicious!

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  9. This was the worst meal I have had in a long time. The french onion mess aka soup was beyond nasty, under cooked oions with a few table spoons of tastless broth. Canned soup is even better. A few (about 5-6) pc.of lettus = a side salad. Was given ice tea with no sugar. Never saw our server again after she gave us our food.
    ROTTEN over pirce food. SAve yourself a trip and go to fast food instead of this awful place. Ick!

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  10. went back again today (Sunday) for brunch, 2nd week in a row. The food was equally delicious. This time we ordered veggie hash, breakfast sandwich, gruyere and caramelized onion omlette, and croque monsier. Everything seems prepared with care and the ingredients are so fresh. The combination of squash, potatoes and mushrooms in the veggie hash was really tasty. Two comments though (I hope the owners read this). I really think the veggie hash should come with toast….the omelettes (which come with potatoes) do, so it doesn’t make sense that the hash does not. I ordered a side of toast after I got my hash….it is so yummy to put the poached eggs and hash on top of the toast and eat it all together, plus more filling, because the portion sizes are not huge (with the toast, it was perfect). Also, my husband said that the coffee is good, but it is a very dark roast which neither he or our teenage son prefers. It would be nice to have two coffee options, a dark roast and a lighter breakfast roast, like they do at Macs…or, if you can only do one option, a lighter roast might be a better choice since I maybe it would appeal to more people?

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  11. Billing yourself as a pastry boutique/cafe would make one assume that this is the type of place one may sit and enjoy coffee and a bit of pastry, but the set-up really implies that Viola is a finer dining restaurant, where you pay prior to receiving your food and hopefully you remember about the pastries at the end of your meal. The flow and atmosphere conflict with one another.
    However, the casual restaurant idea clashes with the rolled napkins with silverware in each place setting. Cloth napkins and silverware are unnecessary at each place setting (perhaps ok at dinner time). It makes it appear that you are not welcome to sit. Also, if you do sit and don’t need silverware, technically the silverware is “dirty” and must be washed according to health codes, which is SO wasteful for the environment. When the staff notices that you don’t need all the silverware on the table, they whisk over to grab it off the table. All this work for what? I don’t get the concept. I also didn’t appreciate the interruption to grab unused silverware off of my table. Rolled napkins signify finer dining and tableside service, not being watched like a hawk to see if you need your place setting taken away. This doesn’t match the casual atmosphere, prices, and menu.
    The coffee and few food items I’ve had have been excellent, but the concept is a bit off and unwelcoming and needs work to succeed. I hope Viola’s works on these errors and makes it better. I would like to see less waste for the environment at Viola’s too.

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  12. Well… all the food I’ve had at Viola has been fantastic. I can’t say much about the French Onion soup or iced tea (haven’t had it), but the meatball sandwich, eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros, chicken salad sandwich, egg salad sandwich, breakfast burrito, and all of their pastries/sweets are miiighty tasty. And veggie hash, also amazing! Lemonade is excellent, fresh squeezed, and best yet, they serve Flying Goat Coffee. Overall a good place with some kinks to be worked out.. I think that it is very promising, and I would definitely recommend it to someone, but I would throw in the disclaimer about it being so new & therefore possibly an iffy experience. Cute girls working there which makes up for any slow service ;) oh, and music isn’t very consistent.. heavy, intense classical music to light jazz, to Italian cafe? Huh? Like I said, food is really good though. I’ve overheard a manager problem-solving orders that are messed up and if you go and have a bad experience, say something to someone, and you will see results! Bottom line: check this place out, it’s worth it!

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  13. My wife and I went to Viola today and had one of the most disappointing lunches in recent memory.
    A great French Onion Soup is a treat but I believe it is hard to butcher it this badly. There was a pile of undercooked onions that less than half filled the crock it was served in. The maybe four tablespoons of broth (I am being generous) tasted like onion water with no discernible beef flavor. The two pieces of toasted bread with an anemic bit of flavorless cheese were the only edible part of this mess.
    My wife had the Chicken Salad Sandwich which was bland at best and barely had enough chicken to cover the very generic bread. The green salad it came with was 4 tiny green leaves covered with what tasted of straight Balsamic Vinegar and a low quality oil.
    I ordered the iced tea which was so over brewed it had an oily top and it was served sans straw or sweetener.
    When we asked for water we were brought a carafe and two glasses without ice the server deposited these without offering to pour any in our glasses.
    All of this left us hungry and disappointed for $25.
    We have had very good luck with Bite Club recommendation in the past but I can’t help but wonder if you are being recognized and getting a different view than the general public.

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  14. Went for lunch today and had high hopes.
    I had a fried chix sandwich which was tiny. The chicken was rubbery and the bun was dry and crumbly (stale maybe?). my girlfriend had the beet salad, she said it was just ok.
    Pretty bummed, i was looking forward to this place after reading about it here.
    I may try breakfast some time, but for a semi-expensive lunch, i much prefer Willow Wood, Monti’s Starlight or French Garden.

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  15. I went to Viola for lunch today,expecting a treat. I LOVE French Onion Soup. I was disappointed to say the least, with the WORST French Onion Soup I have EVER had!!! The onions were not thoroughly cooked, very chewy. There was not enough broth to even cover the onions, and the bread on top was some kind of weird seeded bread, and the worst of all—the cheese. Don’t we all love the ooey gooey melted cheese on top? There was maybe a tablespoon of cheese on top of the piece of bread!!!! Horrid, horrid soup. I’ve had French Onion soup at Lyons that was better than this. Even Campbells canned french onion would be better.!!!
    I also got the pork sliders with the idea of taking them home for dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook on a Friday nite. What they advertised as ‘coleslaw’ was barely a teaspoon, yes teaspoon of shredded carrot and cabbage, which would not pass for coleslaw, and the buns were dry…no mayo or anything on it. And they don’t even have salt shakers on the tables!!!! THe french fries had PEPPER on them!!!
    Horrible expience I will never go back.

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  17. After reading the bite club article went for lunch with 2 other foodies from work. 2 of us got the BLT $9 w/ fries another $3. The bacon and tomatoes were delicious, but the sandwich was rather small, for the price and then another $3. for fries. Not a good value in our opinion. Other person got the burger, which came with fries, for $9, which she enjoyed very much and felt a good value. Article about $5 – $10 lunch reasonable – not so. Would go back to try some other items though.

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  18. Excellent breakfast all the way around! The most pleasant surprise of all: they are French-Pressing Flying Goat Coffee! Thank you, thank you! Awesome.

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  19. I just returned from having a quite pleasant Sunday supper with my husband at Viola’s. We both came away feeling as if we had returned from a special dinner at a charming friend’s home.
    The food was quite good, as was the charming atmosphere, and the very pleasant waiter. After eating the chef asked how our experience was. Delightful… quite delightful.
    For me the atmosphere feels more European than American.
    Cannot wait to go back, with my best friend for lunch, and with my husband for another nice time.
    Thank You Viola.
    After peeking at these reviews here over the weekend I’m so glad we decided to try this gem for ourselves.

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  20. I just returned from having a quite pleasant Sunday supper with my husband at Viola’s. We both came away feeling as if we had returned from a special dinner at a charming friend’s home.
    The food was quite good, as was the charming atmosphere, and the very pleasant waiter. After eating the chef asked how our experience was. Delightful… quite delightful.
    For me the atmosphere feels more European than American.
    Cannot wait to go back, with my best friend for lunch, and with my husband for another nice time.
    Thank You Viola.
    After peeking at these reviews here over the weekend I’m so glad we decided to try this gem for ourselves.

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  21. I don’t know the owners either…just honestly had a great experience!

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  22. Forgot to say how fresh the tomatoes and lettuces were. And no, I know nobody in the business and we like real, fresh, and reasonable yummy food. However, we travel for food and finally Santa Rosa scores!!
    PS They will do carryout. I could be the carry out queen of Santa Rosa ;)

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  23. Went there last night and this place is an asset to Santa Rosa. I loved the special BLT, the fig and goat cheese salad, and had a good glass of wine. The pastries… Had a good snail, but had no room for the luscious looking lemon meringue or little cheesecake. There is also bread pudding, but the cookies. I don’t like peanut butter cookies but these were so fresh and clean and peanutty I had to eat them. The Russian wedding cookie (almond based) melted in the mouth, the black and white like a fuller oreo cookie, and the little chocolate bites–oh my. The latter is crispy then you sink into a burst of soft dense chocolate like a miniature brownie of dark rich chocolate.
    My family had pulled pork sliders with french fries obviously made with fresh potatoes–crisp and yummy. My son had the burger made with Niman Ranch beef which he liked. I think they would like a little relish like fresh pickle with that. Just a thought. BTW my BLT was Neiman Ranch bacon on bread with crispy crust and tender inside that didn’t fall apart. Butternut squash soup was fresh and delicious as well. Can’t wait to try the French onion soup. There are a lot of favorites on this menu.
    A winner!

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  24. Mark, I hope you weren’t implying that I was faking my review. I had no idea who the owner was, and I am not friends of any worker in Viola. And to be honest, I haven’t even stepped foot in Montgomery Village in over a year.
    My husband and I just had a wonderful meal and I was so excited that I had to share it. I apologize if it seemed a bit over the top, but it’s hard to find good, fresh cooking nowadays.

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  25. I definitely want to try this place. A fried chicken sandwich and mac n’ cheese is total comfort food….But some of the reviews seem a BIT skewed…Please, if you’re a friend of the owner or an employee, making super obvious glowing reviews isn’t good at all. I’m having flashbacks of the Nonni’s reviews lol

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  26. My husband and I went to this delightful cafe for dinner this evening. Normally it’s so hard to find a place that offers food both my husband and I like (he’s a burger guy and I like things a little more upscale). To our surprise, we found out that Viola’s offers delicious, juicy burgers, with homemade buns and a side of freshly made fries, as well as large house salads, “gourmet” mac & cheese (my choice), and much more. They most certainly carry desserts as well, with choices ranging from mini cheesecakes, whoopie pies, cupcakes, and more. In addition, I am a huge iced tea fanatic… They served freshly brewed iced tea, and even brought me a mini bowl with sugar and a tiny spoon! The atmosphere was very pleasant, the food was delicious and fresh, and the servers, cooks, and owner were absolutely wonderful. Before my husband and I were getting ready to leave, the owner’s mother (also one of the servers) brought us over a couple of treats “for the road.” How sweet! I think I’ve found my new favorite place!
    Heather, thank you so much for the blog! I love listening to you on KZST. Keep up the great work!

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  27. Had lunch there today and everything was great (fig & goat cheese salad, butternut squash soup, croque monsieur, fries). The beer and wine list is really good as well. I love being able to get a good pour of wine in wine country for $7! And friendly service to boot. Thanks for the tip Heather!

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  28. Went for breakfast this Saturday morning at 10am. My husband ordered eggs benedict, my son ordered a waffle. I asked if they could make me eggs florentine instead (not on menu) and they acccomodated me. We were not disappointed in our meals at all! The eggs were poached perfectly for me – not TOO runny and not solid (I like the yolk to have thickened up a bit but still run). They use their own biscuits instead of English muffins, and they are *really* good – not sweet or too doughy, a great base. I don’t usually like biscuits as a base for benedict b/c they are so rich, but this worked. The hollandaisse is well balanced with a nice slight lemon flavor. It is a bit on the “mayonnaissey” side, but still tasted great (my favorite hollandaisse is at Macs on 4th). The potatoes are now my favorite potatoes though – they were chopped into little bits and fried, like a cross between homefries and hash browns…crispy and soft, simple (just potatoes) and salty and delish. I will definitely go back – there are other things on the menu that appeal to me – chilaquiles, huevos, and these little egg/cheese biscuit sandwiches that looked tasty. One comment – it seemed like there were some kinks to be worked out with processing orders. My husband didn’t get his coffee until we were served and neither did another guy a couple of tables over. I would have liked to see the entrees listed on a board above the counter, if ordering at the counter, that way the line doesn’t get held up with people deciding on what to order (or just have table service). But, overall, the service was friendly and the food was great, and we didn’t wait an overly long time to be served. On our way out we bought some whoopie pies that I’m looking forward to having later on.

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  29. Andy: no duh. What special acumen you must possess to ascertain it is Gruyère (and not Comte, Fontina or
    Emmental) melted in the picture. Are you certain it’s melted Gruyère?
    It’s a crappppy, distorted photo. And the lack of captions adds to the ambiguity as to what’s actually in the photo.
    Like I stated before…
    Not all of us pretend to know it all.

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  30. “I presumed it was a rustic pot pie – and yes I’m quite familiar with french onion soup but not one that quite looked like strips of pastry dough had been baked on top of it. ”
    How can you be quite familiar with the soup but not recognize a crouton with melted gruyere that is standard on french onion soup?

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  31. I’m with Glauco Mammacita – it IS NOT obvious what’s in the brown glass bowl.
    I presumed it was a rustic pot pie – and yes I’m quite familiar with french onion soup but not one that quite looked like strips of pastry dough had been baked on top of it.
    Actually captions for pics in your regular Eats Restaurant columns would be quite helpful. Not all of us pretend to know it all.

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  32. Thank you. That’s MUCH clearly!

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  33. No worries, I should have been clearer (sorry for the previous error). The old Wolf coffee turned into a Grateful Bagel. She’s in the spot that used to be the crepe place. It’s near J Jill.

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  34. Heather, I know this must be obvious to you and everyone else BUT me but, is the space she renovated in Mont. Village the old Wolf Coffee??

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  35. Jen’s mom knew my dad and I learned of the opening a few months ago. Soooo looking forward to visiting and Congratulations Jennifer!

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  36. Hooray. I’ve been waiting for a place like this for so long…just the sort of place where I can call a friend and say , “Let’s go and have a quiet lunch and catch up on all the latest news!” Can’t wait to try it…thanks

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  37. Good job, Jen. See you on Saturday, 10/17/09, for breakfast. I will be bringing along everyone I can.

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  38. Excited to try this place out. Everything sounds so yummy. Will definitly give this place a try.

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  39. Um, it’s french onion soup. Figured that was pretty obvious.

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  40. What is that stuff in the brown glass bowl? I hope it
    tastes better than it looks. Was this ready to be served,
    or in a dish ready to be washed?

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