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Santa Rosa area recommendations

Ann Bacon Sep 20, 2000 09:46 AM

My family is relocating from NYC (where great cheap ethnic restaurants are in abundance!) to Santa Rosa. I would really appreciate getting recommendations for both cheap ethnic places as well some good places where we could take our 5 month old baby. Thanks!

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  1. v
    vanessa RE: Ann Bacon Sep 20, 2000 12:07 PM

    I live in Sonoma County, and if you like Mexican food you will do very very well here. Otherwise, there is really a dearth of good cheap ethnic, or otherwise, places. There also aren't very many good moderate places. There was a very recent thread on the subject (about 2 weeks ago) titled "Sonoma County Cheap Eats" Take a look, and then if you still have questions, post again. If I think of some things when I have more time, I'll post them. Melanie Wong will probably see this and help too. Good luck. It will be an adventure.
    Santa Rosa ain't NY. At least it's easier here to decide where to eat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: vanessa
      Amanda Plyley RE: vanessa Sep 21, 2000 09:29 AM

      Hi there-

      Fellow NYC'er who grew up in No. CA. I haven't spent a whole bunch of time in Sonoma but it seems like whenever I'm there I inevitably wind up at Dempsey's in Petaluma (50 East Washington St.). I've been there 3-4 times in the last 5 years and have always had great food and service. Seems like a pretty family friendly place, but not being a regular, I'm probably not the best judge. Good beers, salads, fresh local ingredients.

      Good luck with your move!

      1. re: Amanda Plyley
        Melanie Wong RE: Amanda Plyley Sep 22, 2000 04:17 AM

        It's been a couple years since I've been to Dempsey's but I liked it too. Lots of good appetizers to go with a brew for a light meal.

    2. m
      Melanie Wong RE: Ann Bacon Sep 21, 2000 09:51 PM

      Welcome to Sonoma County, Ann!

      One of the things you'll soon observe is that whites are a minority in California, and WASPs an even smaller proportion of that ethnic group. So "ethnic" used to describe non-WASP cultures isn't terribly meaningful.

      I had a not-bad dinner at Rita's Chinese in Santa Rosa on Hwy 12 in the Safeway shopping center. It was better than any other Chinese restaurant (including Gary Chu's) that I've tried in the County. But that's not saying much...

      1. m
        Melanie Wong RE: Ann Bacon Oct 1, 2000 11:54 PM

        I was not terribly helpful in my earlier response to you. Let me try to redeem myself with a few suggestions.

        Even though you’re sure to miss lots of uniquely NY food, you’ll be living in Paradise! Here it is October 1, and it was over 80 degrees with full sun. Luther Burbank was amazed at the variety of plant material that could thrive here and hypothesized that his adopted home of Santa Rosa must have been the original garden of Eden. I moved here 10 years ago for the wine and Sonoma’s natural beauty. Yet, would you believe it was almost two years before I stepped into a winery? I got so caught up in learning about Calif. native plants, antiquing (collector of LuRay Pastels dinnerware and old kitchen stuff), and specialty food purveyors.

        Your family might enjoy an outing to the redwoods then dinner in Occidental. This jewel of a town with wooden sidewalks is known for its family-style Italian dinners. Try Negri’s, Occidental Hotel or Union Hotel for a bottomless tureen of minestrone, salad, heaping portions of spaghetti and meatballs, lots of sourdough bread, and a scoop of sherbet or vanilla ice cream for dessert. If you’re a blues fan, you can catch Nick Gravenites out there many weekends.

        The general quality of Asian restaurants isn’t that high. But with the telecom valley boom, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian engineers will be relocating here and the food is sure to follow.

        As Vanessa says, we’ve got some great little places for Mexican food. Yet, unlike where I grew up, menudo is only available on Saturdays/Sundays. Here’s the run-down on the taquerias I frequent most often in Healdsburg. Taqueria El Sombrero – just off the Plaza, good all-round, creamy horchata, good carnitas and grilled chicken, and a bit more presentable atmosphere for company. Taqueria Azteca (in Azteca Market) – on Center St., no air-conditioning, very nice people, excellent menudo, good gorditas but only when freshly made and not re-heated, excellent carnitas and carne asada, biggest portions – one taco is enough for me, whereas I’ll order two anywhere else. Taqueria Guadalajara – wide-ranging menu but have only tried the burritos and tacos, the best tongue taco, okay carnitas, salsas a bit tinny. Taqueria Santa Rosa – new in Safeway shopping center, other locations in Santa Rosa (prefer Mendocino St. location over gritty Stony Point), good cabeza and al pastor, excellent carnitas, good ceviche tostada, good coctel, warm thinner chips for extra points, salsa bar with about 4 or 5 tasty choices and relishes, MacDougall diet menu items.

        A couple more "ethnic" places I haven’t been to which friends recommend highly: La Sallette in the town of Sonoma, Portuguese cuisine; and Orchard Inn, Santa Rosa, near the Burbank Center for German specialties, sauerbraten recommended.

        Then, let me mention three Calif. regional restaurants that deserve to be recognized but haven’t gotten the press yet. Fortunately for us, this has kept prices far below their value and you can even get a reservation. The Farmhouse Inn on River Road in Forestville – cozy dining rooms in an old farmhouse, great rabbit cooked three ways, wonderful local lamb and salmon, dessert souffles, oustanding fluffy ricotta cheesecake with local berries. The chef from here will be representing California in the Slow Foods conference in Piemonte, Italy later this month. Luther’s on the Boulevard in Cloverdale (named after the city founder’s dog) – tiny spot with a some outdoor seating, overlooking the historical society’s beautiful garden, dinner Thur-Sun, soulful saffrony seafood stew with each component perfectly cooked and a hint of tomato, delicious soups, chick pea and other purees offered with basket of bread is a nice touch, pastry chef on staff but I haven’t had dessert yet. Tastings Wine Bar and Restaurant in Healdsburg (haven’t tried it yet, relying on raves from friends) – innovative and well-priced wine list with many selections by the glass, very good service (one friend was recognized by some of the wait staff who came from The French Laundry), luxurious 5-course tasting menu for $34 or $50 with wines, also a la carte dishes. Corkage is only $10, top quality crystal stemware, and they welcome BYOB. Our friend from Virginia said he’d eat here everyday if it were in his town!

        Every summer weekend has a wine and food festival somewhere in the County. While the wineries usually don’t put out their best, the food booths are just great. Sweet and briny Kumamoto oysters on the half shell snatched from the sea only hours ago from Hog Island Oysters, grilled turkey legs from Willie Birds, thai satay and fresh rolls from several Thai restaurants, inventive housemade sausages hot off the grill from many local producers (Aidells, Willowside Meats, Niman Ranch, Angelo’s, Montibella, Martindale’s and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone), corned lamb and grilled racks from CK Lamb, and hot barbecued oysters from Johnson’s (can’t decide between the garlic butter or hot sauce and usually get both!).

        Sonoma’s winegrowers take as much pride in their cooking skills as their vines. There are many opportunities to taste their fare at political fundraisers and charity benefits. Steve Ryan of Ryan Vineyard Management is the leading grillmaster – great tri-tip, succulent pork ribs and barbecued turkey. Warren Dutton of Dutton Ranch does a great job with the pig roast – cooked in an open pit overnight – and sometimes he gets a half-wild boar that’s even more fantastic. Carolyn Martinelli makes incredible Gravenstein apple pies. The Seghesios are great cooks too – legendary dinners prepared by Mom go for top dollar at auction and her daughter-in-law from Louisiana turns out a mean gumbo.

        Eggs, poultry, lamb, dairy, apples, fishing, and grapes for bulk wine made up Sonoma’s traditional agricultural base and the new generation has taken it to a different level.

        Our farmers markets offer up a wondrous palette of old varieties and organic vegetables grown by your neighbors --- antique apples, 40+ varieties of garlic, honey, preserves, incredible melons including the Crane Melon developed in Rohnert Park, pears and stone fruits, fresh figs, baby lettuces well into December, freshly dug potatoes from all over the globe, baskets of berries, heirloom tomatoes and more. The tiny Alpine-cross strawberries grown in Sebastopol are amazingly fragrant and sweet. The Thursday Night Market in Santa Rosa on summer evenings is a farmers market plus a street party. You can get every kind of cultivated mushroom in dewy fresh condition from growers in Petaluma,, and in the fall foragers will sell the wild ones to Anstead’s market in Healdsburg. Some of our local extra virgin olive oils are more precious than wine!

        A listing of local cheesemakers reads like a who’s who of American artisanal dairies: Laura Chenel, Redwood Farms, Cowgirl Creamery, Straus Dairy, Vella Cheese, Springhill Jersey Cheese and others. Small herds and old world pride in craftsmanship reign. As a local, you’ll be able to go out to Joe Matos place to pay for a wheel of his raw milk Azores style cheese then he’ll put your name on it and set it aside for extra aging for as long as you like.

        You’re going to love the Dungeness crabs and King salmon caught by day boats off Bodega Bay. The extra depth and sweetness of flavor of crabs and salmon caught from Half Moon Bay up to Eureka is attributed to the gentle slope of the continental shelf off our coast which provides a home for a rich mix of brine shrimp for them to feed on. The best place to buy live crabs is G&G Market (skip the other seafood) in Santa Rosa or the Egg Basket in Fulton. If you call ahead to the Egg Basket, they’ll cook ‘em to order so that they’re pulled from the pots steaming hot just as you arrive.

        This is the home of Rocky Ranger chickens. Fiesta Market in Sebastopol has this vacuum marinating process that forces the flavoring into the chicken in no time at all. Call ahead or you can place your order at the meat counter for the flavor you want, finish your grocery shopping, and have a prepped chicken ready to roast or grill when you leave. During the summer Fiesta has grills set up outside in the parking lot for their chicken and ribs, as does Big John’s in Healdsburg, so you can get that outdoor charcoal grilled flavor to take out too. You can get a real fresh local turkey from Willie Birds, not one that’s been super-chilled for two months. The fresh ducks from Reichardt or Liberty Ducks are so much better and more flavorful than Long Island ducklings --- much meatier and juicier, less fat, and higher meat to bone ratio. And let’s not forget Sonoma Foie Gras . . . need I say more?

        Then finally, bread, the staff of life, is offered up by super star bakers. Wildflour in Freestone, Village Bakery in Sebastopol, Mezzaluna in Santa Rosa, Brother Juniper’s in Santa Rosa, Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg, Della Fattoria in Petaluma, Costeaux French Bakers in Healdsburg and more. You’ll be able to take advantage of the Mon-thurs. sale at 4:30pm at Downtown when you line-up with the locals to stock up at half-off on the day’s remaining baked goods. I keep a supply of croissants and blueberry scones in my freezer for weekend guests. The sticky buns are perfection (but don’t freeze well) and are sold at the Saturday farmers market in Healdsburg and San Francisco too. I dropped into the Downtown Bakery on Saturday to treat myself to a scoop of fresh peach ice cream --- bits of peach, intensely flavorful and rich with butterfat but with that refreshing iciness for a homemade taste. Yum!!!

        I haven’t even gotten into coffee, cider, beer or wine. Another time.

        22 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong
          Alexandra Eisler RE: Melanie Wong Oct 3, 2000 02:50 PM


          Thank you, Melanie, for reminding me of the best part of growing up in SR...the food!

          1. re: Alexandra Eisler
            Melanie Wong RE: Alexandra Eisler Oct 4, 2000 04:35 AM

            Ah, so you’re a local girl. Remember the controversy last year when the NY Times reported that while Sonoma County had great wines and fantastic produce our restaurants were’nt up to speed? Ravenous was named as the best in the county, I seem to recall. Still have any favorites at home?

            We’re surrounded by such great produce and ingredients it’s natural to want to experiment in the home kitchen. My observation is that my friends in the Wine Country are more serious cooks than my circles in the Bay Area, although all are pretty intense about what they eat. I get invited to home-cooked meals all the time in Sonoma, but except for my relatives, we go out instead of cooking at home in the City.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Alexandra Eisler RE: Melanie Wong Oct 4, 2000 04:32 PM

              I thought the NYT article was particularly funny, in light of some of the restaurant egos it offended! Besides, if you ask really, really nicely, you can take your Ravenous burger into the movie theater with you-what's not to love?

              "I get invited to home-cooked meals all the time in Sonoma, but except for my relatives, we go out instead of cooking at home in the City."

              I've noticed that too, usually because the food at home is so much better and we all have such a strong attachment to the land and what it produces. I'm sure you've had similar evenings; everyone crowds into the kitchen, spilling their wine as they argue, who makes a better whole wheat sourdough? Downtown Bakery or Della Fattoria? Actually, this time of year, it's probably an argument about the price of grapes...

              Thinking about favorite places to eat in SR, I realize most are out of town! Had a great sandwich this weekend at Cucina Viansa in Sonoma. Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg is hands-down my first choice for weekday lunch. Wildwood (Willow wood?) Cafe in Graton has great polenta and soups. (Speaking of Graton, have you been to the Ace in the Hole brew pub? Geoffrey House, a British beer importer, opened it last year. He makes apple cider on-site with local Gravs, lip smacking delicious). I must admit a weakness for the carnitas burrito at Lepe's, near the corner of Montgomery Drive and Mission in Santa Rosa. I've had consistently good meals at Cafe Citti on Highway 12 in Kenwood and although I haven't been, my dad recently had a good dinner at what used to be Bunny's Kitchen further down Highway 12. (I still miss Bunny's biscuits and honey butter. sigh.)

              I have heard some rumors about a big name opening a restaurant on the west side of the Healdsburg Plaza. Wonder if that might bring more restaurants to the area?

              1. re: Alexandra Eisler
                Melanie Wong RE: Alexandra Eisler Oct 5, 2000 04:01 AM

                I find it more that it can be so easy for some of my friends to pull together a spur of the moment meal when friends drop in. Grab some tomatoes from the garden, fire up the grill, defrost and grill some venison sausages from the freezer stash, and we've got dinner. I do wish that I had the patience to install a vegetable garden, and could fuel my kitchen from there. Our style of cooking depends on great ingredients that don't take much more to turn into a meal --- seems a shame to go to a restaurant to have the perfect heirloom tomato salad when it's waiting in the back yard. Recently on the spur of the moment a friend decided to open a 77 Warres vintage port and apologized for not having anything to go with it. His wife said, waita minute, then went to a neighbor and plucked a handful of perfectly ripe Mission figs from the tree.

                Yep, we always end up in the kitchen. Scads of wines to sample and argue about --- I never go anywhere without at least one bottle in each hand. (g)

                Were you at the grill at Viansa's winery or the place off the plaza? Love Bistro Ralph, although it's been too long since I've eaten there. Met one of my ex-bfs there, maybe lightening will strike twice. I was at Willowood recently for lunch, had already ordered my standard pork loin sandwich before I noticed that almost everyone around me seemed to be eating polenta. I'll order it next time. I did spot the Cider House that time, signs were up for grand opening. I almost stopped in for lunch but my desire for something reliably good won out. I wish them much luck to help save our Gravenstein apple orchards. I've posted on Cafe Citti and didn't know Bunny's. Was that where the Garden Court Cafe in Glen Ellen (good sandwiches, btw) is today?

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  Vanessa RE: Melanie Wong Oct 5, 2000 12:26 PM

                  Hear hear on the cooking at home thing. They are always the best meals. Even if you don't have a garden, people are always giving stuff away, and then there's the Farmer's market.

                  1. re: Vanessa
                    Alexandra Eisler RE: Vanessa Oct 5, 2000 03:05 PM

                    Kinda makes you want an invitation to Melanie's house for dinner, doesn't it?!

                    1. re: Alexandra Eisler
                      Melanie Wong RE: Alexandra Eisler Oct 5, 2000 09:39 PM

                      I've been talking about my FRIENDS' cooking, not at my house. (g) I've been a slug all summer and have many, many social obligations to repay over the winter.

                      1. re: Alexandra Eisler
                        Vanessa RE: Alexandra Eisler Oct 6, 2000 12:18 PM

                        Sure does.

                      2. re: Vanessa
                        Melanie Wong RE: Vanessa Oct 5, 2000 09:38 PM

                        I've been tomatoe'd up most of the summer. When I hear the laments from our chowhounds on the east coast, I feel even more guilty for having to throw away rotting heirloom tomaters.

                      3. re: Melanie Wong
                        Alexandra Eisler RE: Melanie Wong Oct 5, 2000 02:25 PM

                        Wow. Wish my freezer stash included those kind of treats! And well said about eating and entertaining from the backyard garden. At least we're lucky enough to have good farmer's markets; it almost makes up for not having a garden of one's own.

                        This weekend we were on the plaza. Bought our lunch and walked across to the park, spread out blankets and enjoyed the afternoon. While I was growing up, we had Sunday night dinner every week with my grandparents at the Swiss Hotel. (or maybe La Casa if we were feeling adventurous-still crave the enchiladas suiza) I'm amazed how much Sonoma has changed but gratified that a Saturday picnic near the swings is still possible.

                        Bunny's Kitchen was right on Highway 12, just past the main drag of Kenwood, and I think the new name is the Kenwood Bistro or Kenwood Cafe. We stopped in Glen Ellen to shop for dinner at the Village Market and I noticed all the new activity. Is the Garden Court right on the creek? Or is it near The Girl and the Fig? Have you tried the creekside spot?? I haven't eaten yet at the Graton brew pub but hope to soon...

                        1. re: Alexandra Eisler
                          Melanie Wong RE: Alexandra Eisler Oct 5, 2000 09:36 PM

                          Ah yes, Kenwood Restaurant. The last time I was there was two years ago for lunch with some friends. Overpriced for what you get, and we seemed like the only locals there.

                          Garden Court is on the east side of Hwy 12. Ruth Stellwagen (her vineyard is south of BR Cohn's) took me there for lunch, and later I met the owners at a wine tating in SF.

                          Tina Shone, whose family owns the market, sold me my house.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            Alexandra Eisler RE: Melanie Wong Oct 6, 2000 12:48 PM

                            So that's why my dad always calls VM Shone's!

                            Oh, yea, Garden Court is across from the park entrance-got it. I always see cars in the lot so we'll have to actually make it a destination soon.

                            1. re: Alexandra Eisler
                              Melanie Wong RE: Alexandra Eisler Oct 9, 2000 12:45 AM

                              Last night with a mussel dish I described in the International section (another great at-home harvest dinner in Russian River Valley), we had the salt-crusted Meyer lemon bread from Della Fatoria to mop up all the sauce. We were fighting over the last piece!

                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                Alexandra Eisler RE: Melanie Wong Oct 9, 2000 02:36 PM

                                ok, I definately need to get some new friends!

                          2. re: Alexandra Eisler
                            Vanessa RE: Alexandra Eisler Oct 6, 2000 12:21 PM

                            Better call first, because I was astounded when I found out they didn't have a kitchen after spending all that money to build that big place. They may have snacks, but unless something has changed drastically, they don't have real food, and you would end up at Willow wood which wouldn't be a bad thing at all.

                        2. re: Alexandra Eisler
                          Vanessa RE: Alexandra Eisler Oct 5, 2000 12:17 PM

                          Not a rumor about a big name restaurant on the West side of the plaza. Also, Charlie Palmer is opening the restaurant in the new hotel in Healdsburg (believe it or not). I've heard it through reliable sources, but I'm not sure I really believe it. His picture was in our local paper and the story said he was moving here and will be involved with the new hotel.
                          Healdsburg has a lot of recently owned restaurants. I don't think they will all stay busy off season (despite the increase in population and the more year round tourism business) I do think that the new big names will force everyone's quality to improve if they want to stay in the game.

                          1. re: Vanessa
                            Vanessa RE: Vanessa Oct 5, 2000 12:33 PM

                            oops meant to say recently opened, not owned.

                            1. re: Vanessa
                              Alexandra Eisler RE: Vanessa Oct 5, 2000 02:31 PM

                              Thanks for the update!

                      4. re: Melanie Wong
                        vanessa RE: Melanie Wong Oct 3, 2000 08:28 PM

                        Melanie, you rule! I've been meaning to do a similar post to Ann Bacon.

                        My two cents:
                        Just ate at Luthers last week. Really cute comfortable place, very good service and wine list. I ordered really well and enjoyed my duck confit. The rest of the party's meals were not so good. So, step carefully through the menu. Seems that the simpler homier preparations came off the best. The lamb shank also good. Seafood salad with peanut sauce (yuk).Salmon (Ok, but not great).

                        Tastings: Been meaning to post on this, but hesitated because the owners are friends of mine and don't want to shill. So, ok they are friends of mine, but I've had two really good meals there. I love the wine list. It is nice to be able to get wines that are not from California for a change. The service is indeed almost perfect (not common in these parts). The menu is set up so that you can order a tasting menu with wines paired with the food, or go your own way on the wine. The other way to do it is to order one of three large entrees for two (steak, lobster, or one other which I have forgotten). There are also four or five "nibbles"- actually large appetizers.
                        I've had great oysters with melon mignonette, seared foie gras with plum tart, salmon brochettes on lovely lentils. Mussels with wild boar. These are just a few of the standouts. Definitely recommend it. Nice patio with heaters, and it's amazing what they did with that old taqueria building. Don't let the location put you off.

                        A place you didn't mention: Hana sushi in Rhonert Park near the Doubletree Hotel. Another funky Sonoma County location for a jewel of a restaurant, but that's the way it is here. Been hearing its great for awhile. Just went the other night. Amazing fresh delish sushi. (some of the best I've had anywhere). Great service.

                        Thanks for inspiring me and I hope this helps Ann more.

                        1. re: vanessa
                          Melanie Wong RE: vanessa Oct 4, 2000 04:34 AM

                          Thanks for the tips on Luther’s. I’ve been interested in trying the Sunday brunch too but I’ve been such a slug and have been staying home to veg out these last few weeks.

                          I thought Tastings might be the place you had hinted about. I’m hot to try it. My friends who told me about it included a couple who don’t like Mariposa at all. They were especially impressed with the level of wine service. They’d ordered a white from the list, then had several bottles from their own cellar. One was a Burgundy from the Grand Cru Bonnes Mares which straddles the communes of Chambolle-Musigny and Morey-St. Denis. The server asked which side of the vineyard the wine was from – this was a very advanced level question. When they told me where it was located, I had to drive by myself the next day to see for myself. As you say, I couldn’t believe that spot could be transformed for a fine dining establishment. They’ve done an awfully good job!

                          I’m so glad you’ve found a place to feed your sushi cravings. I know exactly the place you mention although I haven’t tried it. I attended a week-long conference at the Doubletree last year, and during breaks I’d take cat-naps on the side lawn looking right at the sushi restaurant. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to try it, I’ve been disappointed so many times. Thanks for taking the plunge!

                          I’ve got a new one too. On Monday I had a late lunch at Pho Viet Nam in the Home Base shopping center on Stony Point (next to the check cashing place). The beef noodle soup is very good, different broth but as good as my favorite in San Francisco, Golden Star. The small size is $3.95 and is topped with more meat than any other pho I’ve had. I’ll be back to try more things from the menu which included inexpensive rice plates and rice noodle dishes too.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            Vanessa RE: Melanie Wong Oct 5, 2000 12:30 PM

                            Did I hint about Tastings? Don't remember.
                            I'd forgotten about that Pho place. Thanks for reminding me. It was really good. I used to go to Saigon cuisine in SR. Which was sort of OK, but seems to have gone downhill the last couple of times.

                            Let me know if you try brunch at Luthers, and how you like Tastings if you go.

                            1. re: Vanessa
                              Melanie Wong RE: Vanessa Nov 3, 2000 03:39 PM

                              Three weeks ago I took my sister and her husband to Luther's (Cloverdale) for brunch. They'd worked so hard helping me stage the Bordeaux dinner. After washing and drying 14 dozen glasses, I'm sure they were happy to go out and not face any more dishes!

                              We were lucky to have a sunny fall day and could sit outside under the grape arbor overlooking the historical society's cottage garden. We had two hits and one miss. The miss was the eggs napolean which was described as poached eggs on biscuits with an herbed vegetable veloute. It was more like biscuits and pasty gravy. Stephanie and I shared the sausage/veggie frittata and the potatoes anna. She though the dishes should have been split in the kitchen, but that didn't bother me. The frittata was huge, skillet size and covering an entire plate. Tasted like a pizza with good tomato/veggie sauce underneath. The potatoes anna was marvelous, perfectly browned on top, and the heirloom tomatoes melted on the hot plate with a bit of olive oil were the right counterpoint to the richness of the potatoes. We also liked the cinnamon raisin toast - very dense texture, and the dog bone-shaped ginger snaps presented with the bill in honor of Luther the dog. We'll definitely be going back.

                              More recently, I noticed a new restaurant, Annapurna, in downtown Santa Rosa on Rossi behind Macy's. I'd often lamented that I missed out on trying the Sherpa restaurant in Glen Ellen before it folded and decided not to let this one pass me by. Nepalese food is often compared to Indian or Tibetan, the spicing is more subtle than what we think of as Indian here. The place had only been open for two weeks and what they lacked in polished service, they made up for in enthusiasm and warmth.

                              The owner asked me whether I'd had Nepalese food before. I'd ordered take-out from a place on the Peninsula which turned out to be his former restaurant in San Carlos! Life on the Peninsula had become too urban and he'd decided to move his family to a smaller town.

                              I ordered the momos (half of lamb and half vegetable), khasi ko achare ledo (braised lamb with mango pickle) which came with naan, steamed rice and a mango lassi. This was too much for one person and came to about $25 before tax and tip and would have been enough for two with the addition of a vegetable. The lamb momos were a bit underdone, maybe would have been tastier cooked more. The veggie momos were delicious and especially good with the creamy mint sauce. The mango pickle in the lamb preparation was a new taste experience for me, a nice balance of sour/salty. The naan was great and served dry w/o butter. I'll be returning to explore more dishes from the menu.

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