Napa chef Cindy Pawlcyn, who was injured in a car accident earlier this year, is back in action! She and new CINDY’S BACKSTREET KITCHEN chef, Jim Leiken (a Daniel Boulud veteran), have created a new menu for the St. Helena restaurant that includes grilled Spanish octopus with Rancho Gordo cranberry beans, duck leg confit cassoulet, and a wood-oven pork shoulder. Old favorites like the Chinatown duck burger, rabbit tostada, and the adult grilled cheese are also still available. This month, they’re celebrating A.B.C. (Anything but Chicken), featuring game birds from small local farms, including guinea hens, partridge, quail, pheasant, and squab. Delish. 1327 Railroad Ave., St. Helena; 707-963-1200.
Three Alarm Grill Opens: Midwestern weenies have arrived in Guerneville! And this corn-fed flatlander couldn’t be more excited to take a bite. THREE ALARM GRILL, which opened on December 5th, is serving up wet and messy Italian beef on a bun, hand-cut fries, and of course, a classic Chicago dog made with Vienna sausage (natch) that’s topped with mustard, onions, neon green relish, tomato, and pickles so authentic that you’ll think you’re at Wrigley. Ya can’t have a serious dog without chili, so they’ll will be serving up their signature beef chili on top or by the bowl (no word on whether it beats Cincinnati’s Skyline). What we’re especially loving is the funnel cake for dessert. For you hippy Californians, there are salads, cedar plank salmon, and chicken breasts. Uff da! Open Thurs-Mon 11am-9pm. 16218 Main St., Guerneville.
Pork Belly Biscuits, Y’all: There’s nothing more awesome than a happy hour with food and booze that actually, uh, makes you happy. In Healdsburg, CHALKBOARD is stepping up the post-cubicle party with a lineup of snacks and cocktails that already have us smiling. Just $6 gets you warm pretzels with cheddar cheese sauce, hamachi crudo, Dungeness crab tater tots, pork belly biscuits, or a fried chicken sandwich. Pair up another George Washington and Abraham Lincoln for a figgy Negroni, or a classic daiquiri, martini, or old-fashioned (plus a white and red wine). Heading up the new bar program is Nathan Grise Myers, so give him a shout if you’re happy and you know it. Happy hour is 4:30pm-6:30pm every day except Saturday. 29 North St., Healdsburg.
Light the Menorah: BACKYARD in Forestville celebrates Hannukah with their annual feast on Wednesday December 17th. The menu features matzo ball soup, smoked halibut salad, braised brisket, potato latkes, and Bubbe’s kugel. $55 per person; reservations recommended. 6566 Front St., Forestville; 707-820-8445.