November 30, 2012

November 30, 2012
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A salad at Backyard in Forestville. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Photo courtesy of Bar Crudo.

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

Unlike a thousand other restaurants with twee Mason jars and artisan farminess slathered all over their menus, Forestville’s new ~BACKYARD RESTAURANT~ gets its dirt-cred authentically.

Sourcing, literally, from chef-owner Daniel Kedan’s own backyard gardens and those of his ranching and farming neighbors, the alum of Ad Hoc and Peter Lowell’s opened his small community-focused restaurant in October. The relatively simple menu relies on seasonal produce, foragers, and whole-animal butchery as its foundation.

Suffice to say that Kedan and partners, chefs Seth Harvey and Marianna Gardenhire, can actually tell you the name of the person who grew the restaurant’s lettuce, raised its chickens, and made the hemp oil on your steak. Kedan also happens to document many of his adventures in local fields, pigpens, and foraging jaunts on Facebook in case you care to see your pork chop in development.

With nods to the diverse palates of Sonoma County, which are something akin to microclimates around these parts, you’ll find a seared steak accented with hemp oil or buttermilk onion rings next to gluten-free vegan gnocchi with wild mushrooms so unctuous and rich you’ll swear its loaded with butter and beef stock. Also on the menu are local-water kefir, coveted Green Valley wines, greens with nutritional yeast, and flatbread with arugula and lemon oil—literally something for everyone.

Every Wednesday the restaurant serves a simple family-style fried chicken dinner, but also regularly features dishes like blanched broccoli rabe with delicate purses of burrata, butternut squash flatbreads, or steaming potpies throughout the week. I also had one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten—an ice-cold plate of baby romaine, torn croutons, pork belly, and herbed dressing. Honestly, however, it seems almost unfair to suggest any particular dish because chances are that Kedan’s menu will have moved on to whatever’s at its height of perfection this week. And that’s exactly the point of eating at Backyard. Often.

Like any restaurant, not every dish is perfect. But even when it misses the mark, each bite feels too wonderfully real. And quintessentially Sonoma County.

The restaurant will serve a special Hanukkah dinner on Saturday December 8th featuring brisket, vegetables, potato latkes, and applesauce with sour cream. Open Mon, Wed-Sun 9am-9pm; closed Tues. 6566 Front St., Forestville, 707-820-8445.

Sonoma’s West County continues its North Bay restaurant domination with news that ~BAR CRUDO’S~ Tim Selvera will be opening a new seafood and oyster bar in downtown Guerneville in spring 2013. According to reports, the restaurant will be called ~SEASIDE METAL~, in reference to the rusting boats on the nearby coast, and is expected to highlight, well, oysters, a raw bar, fish stews, and other briny goodness. Apparently the story broke in a recent ~FOOD & WINE~ article. Meanwhile, a pop-up Korean American diner launches Saturday December 1st at 16236 Main Street, also in downtown Guerneville. Details are still sketchy on exactly what’s on the menu, but the newly dubbed Hi Five will be collaboration between two ~BOON EAT + DRINK~ alums and sounds promising. More details should be popping up on their Facebook page.

Also popping up over the next ten weeks in Santa Rosa is ~BUTCHER & COOK~, a Sunday night walk-up kitchen featuring fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, greens, biscuits, and pie. Chef collaborators Berry Salinas of Revolution Meats and John Lyle co-opt a local breakfast spot on Sundays from 4:30-8pm—or until they run out of food, which is likely to happen. It’s a casual, family-friendly affair with cop-a-squat dining (meaning no table service) or takeaway. A full supper for four (eight pieces of chicken, three sides, four biscuits, and half a pie) runs $58; a half supper for two is $35. Making reservations online is highly recommended or by calling 707-695-2169. Located at Don Taylor’s Omelette Express, 112 Fouth St. at Wilson, Santa Rosa.