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Sonoma Restaurant Scene


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Myself, Wolfert and Carolyn Tillie will be having dinner at the Generals Daughter tonight. I should have a report tomorrow.

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Somewhat related (too incompetent to open a new thread):

Read the current ADNY thread on the NY forum. Ducasse's blue foot chicken, raised in the Bresse style, comes from Sonoma, via DArtagn. Who's raising these chickens? Are they available in Sonoma or the Bay Area?

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Somewhat related (too incompetent to open a new thread):

Read the current ADNY thread on the NY forum. Ducasse's blue foot chicken, raised in the Bresse style, comes from Sonoma, via DArtagn. Who's raising these chickens? Are they available in Sonoma or the Bay Area?

Seems to be coming from a small co-op. I 'll check further but I did not recognize the name when I called them. Seems to be these folks, not Sonoma. http://www.squab.com/ Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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For those heading to Sonoma for an exciting new culinary experience: the kitchen at the General's Daughter is really worth the trip. There are lots of inspired dishes you won't find anywhere else in the valley.

And the talented Chef Preston cares about the provenance of the food he is serving.

Soon I will post descriptions of each dish.

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Thanks Paula; I'm looking forward to the description!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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The new chef doesn't reinvent Sonoma-style cooking, he simply does it better, making food more refined and adds little touches of his own. His tuna tartare with fresh apple and fennel shavings is a great starter. I also liked the juicy marinated shrimps perked up with a dash of Tabasco over an amazing bed of grilled grits.

I really liked the halibut atop a bed of fresh fava beans and surrounded with a pile of wild mushrooms.

There was a lovely cheese platter but I opted for the brioche french toast with Frog Hollow peaches and house-made butter pecan ice cream.

I'll let Bruce and Carolyn tell you their thoughts........

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Sadly, there were lots of closings this fall ( Cafe Le Presse, Sonoma Saveurs, two Italian ones on the corners of the square, maybe Maya. These are all restaurants we will miss. 

My husband and I have a soft spot in our hearts for Maya (due to a very romantic afternoon spent drinking tequila there) and were just there again in February. Can anyone confirm its closure?

The restaurant has indeed been sold, but for now the owners plan to keep everything the same. The changeover will occur later this month (in July).

I think Chef Manuel will be taking over.

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At Wolfert's urging, I post the following...

I have been off this site for several months as I have a freelance writing job reviewing restaurants for another website and thought it might be a conflict of interest. Consequently, I have been dining VERY WELL in wine country these past few months and enjoying it immensely.

However, after submitting my review of the The General's Daughter to that site, I feel confident I should expand upon its quality here. I was also reminded when I bumped into Chef Preston's wife, Nichole, at the launch of Wine Adventures, a new wine magazine, being held at the CIA in St. Helena last evening. Nichole is the FOH manager for General's Daughter and she and husband Chef Preston Dishman were lurred to Sonoma from North Carolina by The General's Daughter's owners.

What this does for our otherwise staid wine country cuisine is inject fresh blood with new vision to the area. Preston is adorable as he marvels at his ability to "get practically anything he wants from vendors seven days a week!" Like a kid in a candy store, he is utilizing local ingredients like Sonoma foie gras and magret, Frog Hollow peaches, and Bodega Bay rock shrimp.

"Well everyone around here does that..." I hear you saying. Yes, but we are used to being able to acquire such ingredients and for one with Southern sensibility who has not had access to such quality, the transformation is magical. While we are accostomed to seeing polenta cakes with some form of garnish, Chef Dishman instead utilizes stone ground grits to make his cake, atop which he adds his rock shrimp with a Tabasco butter. The Sonoma duck breast is glazed with an orange chipotle sauce, but his southern form of succotash is local fresh corn, bacon, and paper thin slivers of organic shiitake mushrooms. It is this southern comfort mentality suddenly having access to the country's best ingredients that is making The General's Daughter a new spot to pursue.

Here's a rundown of the menu that Winesonoma, Wolfert, and I shared:

- Hand-cut spicy Pacific tuna tartare with green apple and sriracha aioli

- Stone ground grit cake, Bodega Bay rock shrimp with tabasco butter

- Kumamoto oyster on the half shell with tomatillo mignonette

2000 Domaine Schoffitz Alsace Gewurtz

- California wild king salmon from Ray Lanus farms, fava beans, cippolini onions, and wild mushrooms

- Herb-roasted wild Alaska halibut with 'vegetables of early summer'

- Pan-seared mountain trout, summer succotash, lobster buerre blanc

2003 August Briggs Pinot Noir

- Orange chipotle glazed Sonoma duck breast with local corn, bacon, and shiitakes

- Extra thick cut of Colorado lamb, French lentils de puy, and herb jus

- Pan-roasted veal medallions, prosciutto, porcini risotto, and lemon sage butter

2002 Kilkananoon Killerman's Run Sybarites (60% Shiraz, 40% Grenache)

- Cheese plate with fresh macerated Pinot grapes

- Zabaglione with fresh fruit made with Eiswein and orange blossom honey

- Brioche French toast with grilled Frog Hollow peaches and house-made butter pecan ice cream

1997 Roze's Vintage Port

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It's my new favorite place and that's saying something as I live in town. Creative wonderful reasonably priced food. Highly recommended.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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  • 2 weeks later...
It's my new favorite place and that's saying something as I live in town. Creative wonderful reasonably priced food. Highly recommended.

Review in yesterdays Press Democrat. http://www.northbay.com/foodwine/dining/Fi...fm?RestId=13418

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I'll be coming out to Sonoma next week and have been trying to figure out what restaurants to try to visit. I saw winesonoma's recommendations and also what people have said about the General's Daughter. There are 2 possible snags though....

My husband and I are travelling with daughters (well behaved twins turning 8 next month)

I'm a vegetarian (eggs/dairy ok)

I'm already aware that these conditions basically scream out "then just eat at home!" but we do love to eat out and I figure that most restaurants have vegetarian options but we just don't know if they are ok places to bring our children. (We would not be asking for or expecting "kiddie meals" but we're hoping be able to enjoy some of Sonoma's good restaurants.)

Any suggestions or recommendations ?

jayne

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I'll be coming out to Sonoma next week and have been trying to figure out what restaurants to try to visit. I saw winesonoma's recommendations and also what people have said about the General's Daughter. There are 2 possible snags though....

My husband and I are travelling with daughters (well behaved twins turning 8 next month)

I'm a vegetarian (eggs/dairy ok)

I'm already aware that these conditions basically scream out "then just eat at home!" but we do love to eat out and I figure that most restaurants have vegetarian options but we just don't know if they are ok places to bring our children. (We would not be asking for or expecting "kiddie meals" but we're hoping be able to enjoy some of Sonoma's good restaurants.)

Any suggestions or recommendations ?

jayne

Call Preston and ask him. Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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  • 3 weeks later...

A new tacky looking cheese thing has appeared in The Girl and The Fig. What were they thinking? A wonderful space ruined. Yuck. :shock:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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A new tacky looking cheese thing has appeared in The Girl and The Fig. ...

??? Not sure I understand...

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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A new tacky looking cheese thing has appeared in The Girl and The Fig. ...

??? Not sure I understand...

A rather large cheaply made plywood thing has appeared in the bar waiting room area of a classy old place. Couches are gone and access to the Patio is somewhat restricted. A cheesy cheese bar in my opinion.

:sad:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I'll be coming out to Sonoma next week and have been trying to figure out what restaurants to try to visit. I saw winesonoma's recommendations and also what people have said about the General's Daughter. There are 2 possible snags though....

My husband and I are travelling with daughters (well behaved twins turning 8 next month)

I'm a vegetarian (eggs/dairy ok)

I'm already aware that these conditions basically scream out "then just eat at home!" but we do love to eat out and I figure that most restaurants have vegetarian options but we just don't know if they are ok places to bring our children. (We would not be asking for or expecting "kiddie meals" but we're hoping be able to enjoy some of Sonoma's good restaurants.)

Any suggestions or recommendations ?

jayne

Call Preston and ask him.

We just got back from our vacation 2 nights ago and we did get to enjoy dinner at The General's Daughter. I was too timid to call Chef Preston directly as you suggested but the restaurant staff who answered the phone told me that it would be fine.

Wow!!! We went with friends who live in Sonoma who hadn't been there in well over a year. On our way in, we met Chef Preston who was so friendly and surprised me by saying he'd seen my post here. Everything about being there was wonderful. The food, the wait staff, the atmosphere, and just the attention to every detail. (I should add that one of our friends asked about desserts first so she'd know how much room to save. She then proceeded to order lamb which would not have been surprising other than for the fact that she kept telling us about how she was trying to be a raw food person!)

Even taking into account that California is so veggie-friendly, I was still having a hard time making choices from all the interesting-looking menu choices. My friends and children were all having salads and the heirloom gazpacho for appetizers so I grabbed tastes from them and enjoyed my own order of mushroom ravioli. Then, Chef Preston prepared the most wonderful main course sampler dish for me. I was in heaven (and now, am home and unfortunately on the opposite side of the country.) I was so absorbed in my own dinner that I can't even remember what everybody else ordered!

Chef Preston, if you are reading this, thank you again for a very special evening. We hope to be back soon and know that our Sonoma friends will be back sooner.

jayne

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I live in Glen Ellen, and wish there were more places I loved. But here goes:

Cafe LaHaye is very good. Great ingredients, always super fresh. Consistent and reliable. Nice service, too. The only bump here is sometimes it's a little rich. Too much butter. But they are the nicest people, and they do so much in a teeny kitchen. It's fun to sit at the bar and watch them cook...it's almost totally silent. They are so in tune together.

Girl and the Fig is up and down to me. Sometimes really good, sometimes a little dull. Nice back patio. OK service.

El Dorado Kitchen is still getting somewhere, just not sure where. I've had some good food there, and been disappointed, too. Service is not that great. Inattentive and unprofessional management. Nice outdoor area, and you can sit by the pool.

Ledson pretty much only has their own wines, and they aren't that great. It's a lot of small plates there that are good, but I don't like the stiff vibe there.

Mary's Pizza Kitchen (two locations in Sonoma) actually has very good pizza and pasta. The Napoletana (without cheese) is incredible. Marinated tomotoes, basil, olive oil, and a tasty crust. I ordered lunch take out from here for a photo shoot I was working on and the crew could not stop saying how good it all was (and that was after it had been sitting a little while - it was still fab).

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Expand your horizons in town. I would only go to La Haye myself, not the others.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Excellent choice. Deuce is also very good. Garden Court for breakfast in Glen Ellen.

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Surprised that living in Glen Ellen you didn't mention those in your backyard; Saffron, The Fig Cafe, Glen Ellen Inn Oyster Grill & Martini Bar, etc...

I just recently reviewed the Glen Ellen Inn Oyster Grill & Martini Bar and if I lived there, could easily find myself hanging out there often; great surroundings and atmosphere, nice wine list, good appetizers and desserts...

Still trying to get to Saffron and Wolf House. The Fig Cafe has great mussels and no corkage which is also nice.

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Mary's Pizza Kitchen (two locations in Sonoma) actually has very good pizza and pasta. The Napoletana (without cheese) is incredible. Marinated tomotoes, basil, olive oil, and a tasty crust.

I have to go to Mary's a lot (in Napa and sometimes Sonoma) for kiddie events, etc, and I used to dread it until I discovered the Napoletana. You're right! It's very good.

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Mary's Pizza Kitchen (two locations in Sonoma) actually has very good pizza and pasta. The Napoletana (without cheese) is incredible. Marinated tomotoes, basil, olive oil, and a tasty crust.

I have to go to Mary's a lot (in Napa and sometimes Sonoma) for kiddie events, etc, and I used to dread it until I discovered the Napoletana. You're right! It's very good.

It's beyond good!

To answer one of the other posts above, here in Glen Ellen it is slim pickings. Fig Cafe is definitely the favorite. Their no corkage policy is a big plus for us locals, who can eat out more often without spending a lot. Their menu is nice, with a lot of choices. The fig arugula salad is always great (they have that in Sonoma, too). They make a great pizza now, too. It is thin crust and really crispy. They also have brunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which is great because we have had some bad breakfasts at Garden Court. We haven't been there since they moved from Hwy 12, where we had a few lame meals in a row...the last being horrible huevos rancheros that seemed prepared in a high school cafeteria. Just awful.

I haven't been to the Oyster Grill yet. I will give it a try.

Saffron? Not if it was the last restaurant on the planet. It has gone DOWNHILL. The food is a real mixed bag now, and they have bad, terrible, awful service. The last time (and believe me, it was really the last time) the server had never, ever worked a table before and didn't have the common sense to. He should have never been left unaccompanied on the floor. The service was ill-timed, interrupting, and awkward. At the end, when we asked for our leftover beef to be wrapped up, he put the other dirty plates right ON TOP of that plate, stacking them on the beef. Wow.

They just don't seem to do well enough to keep a good staff. There are problems there.

We really miss Mucca (they had a fire a few years ago and the space is still empty).

Olive and Vine, which is in the Jack London Village, has really good sandwiches, salads, and a lot of choices in their cold case. They are only a daytime operation, though.

There is supposed to be a wine bar going in that building, too, but the sign said it was to open in May, and nothing yet, so I don't know what's going on.

Edited by jackaroo (log)
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