707 Scout

Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
April 18, 2014

Chef Dustin Valette will feature a prix-fixe menu at the White Oak Grill at the Hotel Healdsburg. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.


Moonlight Brewing’s Brian Hunt will host a brewmaker’s dinner at Backyard in Forestville. Photo courtesy of Backyard.


Naked Pig opens this Sunday for brunch. Photo courtesy of Naked Pig.


Napkins in Napa. Chef Erasto Jacinto will be the new executive chef. Photo courtesy of Napkins.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

Charlie Palmer’s ~DRY CREEK KITCHEN~ is expanding: ~WHITE OAK GRILL~ will open Friday April 25th on the grounds of the Hotel Healdsburg. A more casual, outdoor counterpoint to the upscale DCK, chef de cuisine Dustin Valette is offering a two-course prix-fixe menu for $32. We’re especially excited about dishes using housemade charcuterie and local cheeses and menu items like the smoked Duroc pork belly with black garlic emulsion and wild arugula. On a hot summer’s day, patio-friendly cocktails include rhubarb and lemon verbena gin, and the Stormy Blueberry with rum, blueberry liqueur, lime, and ginger beer. Open Fri-Sun. 317 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-431-0300.

Jacinto’s Chef Heads to Napa: Chef Erasto Jacinto has joined ~NAPKINS BAR & GRILL~ as their new executive chef. The former Cindy Pawlcyn toque (Mustards Grill, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen) opened his namesake restaurant, Jacinto’s Kitchen, in early 2012 with his brother Pablo. Despite some incredible dishes early on that featured the bold flavors of Oaxaca, the location of the restaurant inside Oakmont retirement village proved too challenging for the brothers. Prices were higher than many locals were willing to pay, and eaters complained over the years that the once-flavorful food became increasingly uninspired. The good news is that Jacinto will likely thrive at the bustling new bar and grill in downtown Napa, which features American cuisine with a “global influence”; Napans are already applauding the return. Rumors of a Chinese restaurant to replace Jacinto’s has been floating around for several weeks, and records show that Mei-Don Chinese Cuisine is slated to open there in the coming months.

New Chef for ~ST. FRANCIS WINERY~: On the heels of St. Francis chef David Bush leaving to open his own restaurant, Oso, in Sonoma, the winery has announced that Bryan Jones, former chef and GM of the Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen will take over the position. The award-winning multicourse food and wine pairing will continue under the new chef. “This is all about excellence, as our certified sustainable winery and vineyard is now a nationally recognized wine and food destination,” said St. Francis President and CEO Christopher Silva. ”With the arrival of chef Jones, we will now take it to an even higher level.”

Easter Brunch, Sonoma Style: As if a day off from kitchen duty isn’t enough for mom (or dad), bottomless mimosas, grilled lamb, and chicken and waffles should pretty much seal the deal. Here are six picks for a Sunday in Sonoma.

Naked Pig: Easter is opening day for this much-anticipated Santa Rosa café. On the menu from 8am-3pm: asparagus and goat cheese omelet, butter and egg sandwich, and pulled pork waffles and bone-broth gravy on green onion biscuits. Prices range from $10-$13. 435 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-291-8014

Viola Pastry Cafe: Poutine, top-shelf Benedicts, and beignets. This is my personal pick for Sunday brunch, and where I’ll be dining alfresco. $10-$15, 709 Village Court, Santa Rosa, 707-544-8830.

Rocker Oysterfeller’s: Chicken and waffles, gin punch, lamb burgers, gin punch. An Easter egg hunt keeps the kids occupied. Outdoor dining, $29 per person, two courses. 14415 Highway One, Valley Ford, 707-876-1983.

Mateo’s Cocina Latina: Preston spring lamb hash with Laguna Farm potatoes, La Bonne Terre Farm carrots, favas, spring garlic, and an egg; plus an ice cream float for dessert. Outdoor seating. 214 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-1520.

Shed: Herb-roasted lamb shoulder with Meyer lemon gremolata and a ragout of spring onions, peas, fava beans, and fennel; citrus almond cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream; Ramos soju fizz; and a Roederer Champagne cocktail. 25 North St., Healdsburg, 707-431-7433.

Canneti Roadhouse: Tuscan Easter tasting menu includes deviled quail eggs and roast goat with fried artichokes. $55 per person. 6675 Front St., Forestville, 707-887-2232.

Beers from cult microbrew fave Moonlight Brewing (Death & Taxes, Reality Czeck) will be on tap at a special brewer’s dinner at Forestville’s ~BACKYARD~ on Thursday April 24. Brewer Brian Hunt recently opened a tasting room in Santa Rosa and has an avid following among beer aficionados. The four-course dinner includes pepper-crusted beef tartare with his saison, wild boar sausage with Twist of Fate, and spring strawberries with Uncle Ollie. $55 per person, 6566 Front St., Forestville, 707-820-8445.

Ark of Taste Dinner with Chef Louis Maldonado: For Slow Foodists, this dinner at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm is the event of the year. Maldonado (Spoonbar, Pizzando) has created a menu featuring rare Ark of Taste ingredients—foods and food traditions considered endangered and worth preserving—for the $85 dinner. It’s a gastro-exploration centered around an Ossabaw Island Hog that includes crispy pig’s head and trotter terrine with Tupelo honey; country ham; geoduck clams, smoked daikon, and Carolina Gold rice; crushed potatoes in pork fat; pork shoulder; smoked ribs with cranberry bean cassoulet; and peach leaf meringue. Sunday April 27, 5-8pm. 7450 Steve Olson Lane, Forestville, 707-894-2815.

April 4, 2014

Chef Adolfo Veronese of Aventine, which will open in Glen Ellen later this spring. Veronese and his brother Gian-Paolo are part of SF’s Alioto clan. Photo courtesy of Aventine.


Oso Sonoma will open in May, a project of David Bush, the former chef of award-winning St. Francis Winery. Photo courtesy of Oso.


The pool of the Les Mars Hotel in Healdsburg has been filled in to make way for a new patio at Chalkboard Restaurant. There will also be a new fine dining option beginning later this month. Photo courtesy of Chalkboard.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

French Blue Becomes ~ARCHETYPE~: Late last year, Calistoga’s ~SOLAGE~ took over the St. Helena restaurant to upgrade its menu and service. This week, the new name and new executive chef, Ryder Zetts, were announced. Prior to Archetype, chef Zetts spent the last six years as chef de cuisine at Michelin-rated Solbar at Solage Calistoga. Earlier Zetts was chef de partie at the renowned Inn at Little Washington, a Relais & Châteaux hotel in Washington, Virginia, and served as chef de partie at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville. The restaurant’s award-winning interior—named one of the “10 Most Beautifully Designed New Restaurants” by Architectural Digest—will undergo thematic enhancements to match the transition, with an aim to retain the comfort and beauty of the dining room. 429 Main St., St. Helena.

Aventine to Open: the funky Jack London Village in Glen Ellen has long been rife with dining possibilities, if not always success stories. Although the charming Olive and Vine and the Himalayan eatery Yeti are flourishing in the village, the large Grist Mill building has seen restaurant after restaurant struggle and fail, despite its spectacular outdoor seating and quiet location.

That may soon change with the arrival of ~AVENTINE~. The sceney bar and restaurant concept headed up by Adolfo and Gian-Paolo Veronese has locations in San Francisco and Hollywood, with a third slated to open in late spring in Glen Ellen.

Chef Adolfo (Wolfgang Puck, Drago, Evvia) plans an Italian osteria menu with arancini, Sicilian lemon-marinated octopus, burrata, wood-fired pizzas (we’re especially excited about the tartufo with black truffle honey, béchamel, and arugula), roasted pumpkin ravioli, short rib pappardelle, branzino, grilled lamb chops, and desserts like pumpkin pot de creme, coffee panna cotta, fried dough with Nutella and jam, and caramel budino. There’s also a full bar (one of only three in Glen Ellen) and inside and outside dining—it’s perfect for summer.

Oso Coming to Sonoma: Chef David Bush, who propelled St. Francis Winery to be voted “Best Restaurant in America” on OpenTable, has left to open his own restaurant, ~OSO~, on the Sonoma Square. Bush says the restaurant will have two parts: a front lounge with small plates ($6-$18) and wine by the glass, and a dining area that will be reserved for a prix-fixe five-course tasting menu (around $65 per person) with an optional $35 wine pairing.

“The goal is to execute a tasting menu in the main dining room with a strong emphasis on pairing my food with local wines,” Bush said, making the fit a natural for the winery chef. With local sommelier Brian Kulich on board, the list is certain to have some stellar off-the-radar boutique gems on the list. The menu is still in development, but Bush calls it “New California—local, seasonal, and eclectic, but not esoteric.” Because really, who needs esoteric on their plate?

“Opening a restaurant has been my goal since I started cooking at age 14,” said Bush. “Stuffy doesn’t work in Sonoma, (but) what does is excellent food and hospitality. We want to…give people an experience that has been absent for too long on Sonoma’s plaza.” Opening is slated for dinner service in late May. Lunch and brunch will be coming soon. 9 East Napa St.

Chalkboard Expanding and Expanding: The popular ~CHALKBOARD~, which took over the Cyrus space at the Les Mars Hotel last year, is upping its game. Starting in late April, they’ll be offering an eight-course-plus prix-fixe tasting menu in the hotel’s revamped “library room” on Friday and Saturday nights. The intimate space seats just 16, and according to chef Shane McAnelly, it’s “the next step up” for the Bill Foley-owned restaurant. It’s hard not to start making comparisons to Cyrus, with its haute tasting menus and Michelin-star status, but McAnelly says the vibe will be all Chalkboard. “For us, it’s just a chance to have some fun. I am really excited and passionate about this next evolution of our restaurant,” he said.

The menu is still in development, but an exclusive sneak preview includes dishes like kampachi crudo, bacon consommé with pork belly and 63-degree quail egg, pancetta-wrapped duck breast with duck liver mousse, grilled rib-eye steak with bone marrow, and a dessert called the “Drunk Elvis” with banana, peanut butter, rum, bacon, and chocolate ganache. The dinner will run about $100 per person, and additional wine pairings will be offered.

But wait, there’s more. The hotel’s pool has been filled in (who even knew there was a pool?) to make way for an expanded patio area, expected to open later this spring. 29 North St., Healdsburg, 707-473-8030.

BOB Sandwich Winners: It’s taken nearly a week just to digest all the amazing sandwich creations from the 12 Sonoma County restaurants that competed in last week’s ~BATTLE OF THE BREWS ‘WICH HUNT~. In its third year, the contest pits chef against chef to come up with the best sandwich of the year. This year’s winner was once again ~JOHN ASH & CO.~ with a mini pork schnitzel sandwich that wowed the judges. Other winners included newcomer Fig & Vine for its pork belly pâté banh mi; La Rosa’s beer-braised pork belly; Cloverdale’s Savvy on First with the Angry Bird (fried chicken sandwich with candied jalapeños); Belly’s braised pork shoulder with braised pork belly; and the soon-to-open Earth’s Bounty with a pulled-duck biscuit.

March 21, 2014

At April in Paris at Santa Rosa Junior College, you can eat, drink, and learn the ins and outs of Parisian dining. Photo courtesy of Santa Rosa Junior College.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

Ebleskiver and Sailing Ships: Join the Sons of Norway’s Freya Lodge in Santa Rosa for a morning of ebleskiver, otherwise known as ball-shaped Scandinavian pancakes served with powdered sugar and jam. The pancakes will be served with an omelet, fresh fruit, and breads while Norwegian author and historian Olaf Engvig discusses the historic sailing ships of Scandinavia. Saturday April 12th, 11am, Sons of Norway Hall, 617 W. 9th Street, Santa Rosa. The cost is $20 for nonmembers; for more info and tickets, call 707-996-9889 or go online. The money raised will be used to help pay for kids to go to camp.

April in Paris: Spend three wonderful Wednesdays eating, drinking, and discussing all things Parisian (no translator necessary) from restaurants and market etiquette to the finer points of petanque and the many cultural gems throughout the City of Lights. Francophiles Steve Rabinowitsh and Christine Piccin lead the sessions at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Burdo Culinary Arts Center. Must be 21 and over to participate, $110, April 2nd, 9th, and 16th from 7-9pm. For more info, call 707-527-4372, ext. 9036. 1670 Mendocino Ave. (at Carr), Santa Rosa

~LONG MEADOW RANCH WINERY & FARMSTEAD~ kicks off barbecue season with Ribology at Long Meadow Ranch, a smokin’ afternoon of discussion, demonstration, and dining led by executive chef Stephen Barber, a Kentucky-born-and-bred barbecue master. The Saturday April 12th class gives the skinny on barbecue, including classic regional styles, tasty techniques, and the science behind the succulence. From 3pm-6pm, Barber will demonstrate some of his time-tested techniques as well as some live butchery, showing off his favorite cuts of pork, including St. Louis-style ribs, baby back ribs, picnic shoulder, and Boston butt. Participants also get a behind-the-scenes tour of the farmstead’s organically farmed vegetable garden and a family-style barbecue feast. Tickets are $145 per person plus tax (gratuity included) and are available online or by phone at 707-963-4555, ext. 7105. 738 Main St. (at Charter Oak), St. Helena.

March 14, 2014

M.Y. China in Rohnert Park is featuring a new happy hour menu. Photo courtesy of M.Y. China.


City Winery in Napa will open in April. The combination food, wine bar, and entertainment venue recently named a new chef. Illustration courtesy of City Winery.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

~M.Y. CHINA~ at the Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park has a new happy hour menu Mon-Thu 3pm-6pm, with select cocktails for $6 (you can get classics like an M.Y. Tini or M.Y. Hatten) and “bites” including pork dumplings ($5) and chicken feet—yup, chewy bites of poultry claws—for $3. Graton Resort & Casino, 288 Golf Course Dr. West, Rohnert Park, 707-703-1955.

Napa’s ~CITY WINERY~, the forthcoming restaurant, wine bar, and music venue, has tapped Joseph Panarello as head chef. The New Jersey native has worked at a number of large-scale food and entertainment venues in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. City Winery has locations in NYC, Chicago, and Nashville, with Napa’s historical opera house becoming its fourth location, which is scheduled to open in April. Upcoming Napa shows include Bruce Cockburn (April 10th), Graham Nash (April 29th), and the Milk Carton Kids (June). Details and reservations online.

Also in downtown Napa, newcomer ~TORC~ is now officially open for brunch. Chef Sean O’Toole has been getting plenty of local props for his North Bay-centric menu, expanding to weekend brunch from 10:30am-2:30pm on Saturday and Sunday. We’re jonesing for a lime curd-filled doughnut, huckleberry hotcakes, wild mushroom Benedict with pork belly, and chicken hash. 1140 Main St. at Pearl, Napa, 707-252-3292.

The funky little ~WEST END FARMERS MARKET OPENS~ near Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square kicks off its second year on Sunday March 16th, from 10am-2pm near the De Turk Round Barn. Last season, it was a wonderful mix of local farmers, crafts and food vendors, lively music, and lots of family-friendly fun. Watch for Undercover Bakery, Physis Foods (great freshly made broths), Handlebar Farm, Gypsy Girl Sausage, and (plotzing!) chefs Les and Tara Goodman doing some tasty noshes at their Jewish Deli (house-smoked pastrami! chocolate egg creams!).