At Backyard Restaurant, Chef Daniel Kedan is defining Sonoma County Cuisine
Cocktail and lounge menu features tastes from one of Sonoma’s top chefs
Getting back to its roots in a move to the former Ravenette location
Line up for a little bit of Ben’s sweetness at Pink Out
Mark Malicki returns to Wine Country cuisine in Bodega
Gourmet market and cafe opens in Sebastopol
Guerneville restaurant is a haute hidden gem
Hot Box Grill in Sonoma is about to be huge. Comfort food with a solid foundation of classical French cooking make Chef Norm Owens a toque to watch in the gourmet gulch.
Eclectic Railroad Square restaurant eatery gets an updated menu
Consider this Santa Rosa’s living room — cause everyone comes to hang out here.
Classic Wine Country cuisine from one of Santa Rosa’s most venerable institutions
A favorite of night owls and winemakers, it’s a meet and eat rendezvous in the tiny hamlet of Graton.
Riffing on American regional favorites Zin Chef Jeff Mall feeds the need for dishes just like mom used to make. Only a lot better.
Zazu Restaurant: Devoted to Slow Food and sustainability, the restaurant pulls from its own backyard garden along with a biodynamic plot grown for them at Quivira Winery and other local food sources.
Girl and the Fig: Sondra Bernstein’s sunny bistro marries the best of country French and fresh California flavors.
Epicurean Connection: Sheana Davis is a Sonoma catering institution and nationally-known cheesemaker who recently opened her tiny deli in in Boyes Hot Springs (just outside the town of Sonoma).
Healdsburg’s hautest eatery has garnered enough culinary stars to light up most of Wine Country, yet remains as friendly and hospitable as the day it opened.
Carneros Bistro: Chef Janine Falvo weaves in fun, innovation and an eye for seasonal local foods into her menus at the house restaurant for The Lodge at Sonoma.
Food Network celeb Michael Chiarello’s Italian trattoria packs in celebs, locals, tourists for great food
The menu is brief, with a strong focus on seafood. Because the duo are committed to using line-caught, ecologically-harvested foods, expect to see ingredients change up frequently. Best appetizer bets: Grilled squid with jalapeno pesto and chickpeas ($11) or salt cod fritters with peppers and lemon aioli ($9). The pork terrine ($11) brought over from Coco500 was a huge disappointment, served too cold to be very enjoyable to eat. (Think cold bacon grease.)
Where things get really interesting are with entrees: A perfectly poached line-caught black cod blanketed by its own crisp skin, Himalayan truffles and wild mushrooms ($26) or rich Kobe beef with charmoula, a Moroccan marinade ($25). What could be a spice-rack gone wrong in less adept hands becomes a rich, perfumed, exotic experience. Other dishes pasta with duck, pork loin and a whole baked fish.
The wine list features a handful of organic and sustainable wines, along with a healthy number of wines by the glass. Californian and European wines are fairly equally represented, but what’s even more fascinating are a number of beers and ales and specialty cocktails featuring artisan distilleries (and made with no more than three ingredients).
Pace yourself to include dessert. Though ice cream always seems a cop-out to me, pastry chef Rachel Leising’s Cookies and Cream is a scoop of fresh mint leaf ice cream with chocolate cookies. The tarte Tatin is a personal-sized pastry with Calvados ice cream. But tops is the vacherin, a meringue with creme anglaise, chocolate sauce and coffee gelato.
Worth the drive: What could easily seem a bit hokey with all its earnestness about sustainability and artisan foods has serious cred with so many solid cooks in the kitchen. There are still some staff kinks to work out (there were a few long waits) and the menu doesn’t have the broadest appeal. But what works well works REALLY well. Prices are reasonable, considering the quality and location, but not cheap. There aren’t any views and the minimal decor can feel a bit stark. But like so many destination restaurants, dinner at The Moss Room Restaurant is a singular event that will give you plenty of mileage around the water cooler.
Provided you can find the place.
The Moss Room Restaurant at the California Academy of Science, dinner daily from 5:30pm to 10pm, 415.876.6121. 55 Music Concourse Dr., Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
A little bit country. A little bit rock and roll. Barndiva is the hipster hangout in Wine Country, with its organic sensibilities, minimalist barn decor and swanky cocktails.
Farmhouse Inn: Intimate almost to a fault, the restaurant is cozy and homey, with snappy service and a Michelin-rated Cal-French menu that plays to the flavors of many regional wines on their extraordinary list.
Cozy Santa Rosa bistro continues to create crowd pleasers and small plates with Wine Country flair
A $661 dinner at Restaurant at Meadowood is worth every bite
Ad Hoc: Though the restaurant was only supposed to be a temporary experiment, Thomas Keller’s home-style prix-fix diner has settled in for the long haul.