- Melanie Wong Oct 20, 2003 02:54 AM
Heres an update on whats available in town. This is a supplement to the post linked below to complete the inventory of eats in Cloverdale.
SWEET ROSEBUDS COFFEE HOUSE (Broad St., next to the Post Office, 707-894-9912) opened on Saturday. Its serving Flying Goat Coffee from Healdsburg and making its own baked goods on site. Opening day menu included muffins, scones, pastry of the day, salads, sandwiches, and panini, and a full line up of coffee drinks I havent had a chance to try any yet. Seating is a mix of tables, café tables and stools, and a couple couches. The walls are painted a warm persimmon, and I bet its going to be a popular spot right on the square.
SCHATS BAKERY AND CAFÉ (543 N. Cloverdale Blvd, 707-894-0211) has added a lunch menu served from 10:45am to 2pm, Monday through Saturday. It features sandwiches, soups, salads, baked potatoes with toppings, wraps, quiche, and soup of the day. I checked and macaroons arent made daily, only by special order.
The pizza place next to the theater I mentioned is PAPAS PIZZA CAFÉ (117 E. First St.,707-894-4454). They say they make their dough fresh every day. I havent tried it.
THE COFFEE SHOP AT ANTIQUES AND UNIQUES (124 So. Cloverdale Blvd., small nook in the antiques store, 707-894-4080) serves sandwiches, soups and salads, breakfast items, hot and cold espresso drinks, Torani sodas, Mon-Saturday, for breakfast and lunch. The pesto cream cheese and Jimtown olive spread with sprouts on a dutch crunch roll for $4.50 on the sandwich menu sounds pretty good. It bakes its own breakfast pastries. I havent eaten here yet.
RUTH MCGOWANS BREWPUB is now serving both lunch and dinner Wednesday through Monday.
The Chinese place is CANTON RESTAURANT (132 No. Cloverdale Blvd.,707-894-9168). It advertises that brown rice and tofu are available. Ive never eaten here. Its closed on Mondays, but is one of the few places in town that stays open on Sundays.
BREAKING NEW GROUND COFFEE (212 N. Cloverdale Blvd.) has satisfied my caffeine-loving friends. The signs say it serves hot dogs, but I havent tried one.
The donut shop, CHARLIES DONUTS AND PASTRIES (122 E. First St., 707-894-1882) is no longer open on Sundays. But if you need an early morning snack on another day, it opens at 5am.
The panaderia is LA MICHOCANA (5 Tarman Dr., 707-894-5370). The store also has some Mexican groceries, dry goods, and does tax returns. As I write this up, Im struck by how much baking is going on in this little town. Ive been meaning to check out the pan dulce here.
STARRY NET CAFÉ (512 N. Cloverdale Blvd., 707-894-0100, http://starrynetcafe.com/) looks like just another drive-in with burgers, fries and shakes. These are on the menu, but the surprising part is how good the food is and the attention to quality. I was sorry that Id waited so long to try it. Theres a full burger menu I went with the Big Daddy 1/3 burger with pepper jack cheese, $3.75, and fries, 75¢, plus a spicy chai milkshake made with real ice cream, $4.75 (16 oz). The chuck is ground fresh every day, and even though only 15% fat (vs. the usual 23%), is full of flavor and stays moist even when cooked medium-well. The garnishes are sliced to order and very fresh, and while the bun could be a little toastier, this is a terrific burger and cheap too! The slender fries are nice and crisp, cooked in clean fresh-tasting oil. For vegetarians, a Portobello mushroom burger is offered. The chai milkshake was made with good quality ice cream (maybe Double Rainbow?) and deliciously exotic Ill have to remember this combination.
Initially, I had attempted to order an egg roll and pork bun, but the Hokkien-Chinese owner from Rangoon dissuaded me. He said that theyre too salty for his taste (and presumably mine), but thats the way his customers like them. He told me hed like to serve some Burmese dishes but doesnt know how to develop a market for it here. This is the one place in town to get a Thai ice tea, small, $2.25. The coffee is organic from local premium roaster, Taylor Maid. High-speed internet access with use of two PCs is $6/hour. Theres seating outdoors on a shaded patio or inside in air-conditioned comfort.
EAGLES NEST DELI AND GRILL (113 N. Cloverdale, 707-894-9290) has a bar that serves up lots of tomato-beers at lunch time and a few tables to eat-in. My first taste of the food was a bbq tri-tip sandwich, $5.50 on a soft roll, sold at a recent street fair. They smoke their own and I was impressed by the tenderness and deep flavor. Smoked pork roast and chickens are also offered. A prime rib sandwich, $7, has a nice thick slab of roasted medium rare center cut. Offered on dutch crunch roll with condiments of your choice, I chose horseradish and sprouts with hot jus on the side for dipping and really enjoyed it. I tried a Schrenkens cran-cherry soda with ginseng from the self-service cooler. It stays open for dinner on Fridays offering one dinner entree or the lunch menu.
GRAPEVINE RESTAURANT (236 S. Cloverdale Blvd.) is festooned with plastic grape clusters, an overhead faux grape arbor, and grape vine motifs in the pictures, posters, and drapes. Theres also a crystal chandelier. The tables are covered with vinyl and set with white paper food service placemats.
The dinner menu is fairly limited with hot sandwiches and salads, supplemented by a handful of daily specials on the chalkboard. I meant to ask my waitress what was so unique about the Caesar salad that it would be priced at $10 (without additional protein). My one meal here I had the beef ravioli with pesto sauce, $10.95 from the specials board. This came with a choice of soup or salad. The serving of soup, clam chowder, was generous and bigger than the cup I was expecting for this price. The chowder was the thick and creamy style and tasty with flecks of carrot shreds, potato, onion, and bits of tender clam. I swear that I could taste some cheese in this, as it left an impression that was a cross between fondue and chowder. Odd, but I liked it. The basket of bread was warm, a nice touch. However, these were slices of balloon bread sandwich rolls in white and whole wheat colors. The pesto turned out to be a cream sauce version should have remembered to ask in this town giving me my dairy allotment for the week. The edge of the plate was garnished with chopped scallions and bits of plasticky pre-shredded parmesan cheese. More of this was strewn on top of the ravioli. The whole thing was tepid, as if the pool of sauce had been ladled on a stone cold plate. The smaller than usual squares of ravioli looked familiar. When I tasted them, I knew that Id tried this very tender pasta before. The kitchen confirmed that the source was indeed Canevaris Ravioli factory in Santa Rosa. Luckily this time, the all beef version proved to be better than my earlier disastrous experience. Not only was it edible, it was tasty, albeit drowned in too much cream. Cash only.
RAYS is the local supermarket. Additions include an organic fruits and vegetables section in the produce department, Boars Head meats featured in the deli, and a bigger wine selection. There has been an in-house bakery, but Ive not found anything worthwhile yet. The grilled tri-tip on weekends is recommended.
CORNUCOPIA NATURAL FOODS STORE surprises me some times. It has a decent selection of fresh, dried, and prepared vegetarian and health foods for when you have a craving for smoked tempeh. This last visit, I spotted fresh turmeric root in the produce section (features local, organically grown), something Ive never seen anywhere before. It carries Boonvilles Bruce Breads (http://www.pacificsites.com/~brucebre...).
CLOVERDALE FOOD CENTER (138 E. First St., 707-894-2325) is more of a convenience store and place to pick up ice and drinks. Its dingy and shop-worn. NORMS DELI is in the back with sandwiches and nachos, but it looks pretty unappetizing and Ive avoided it.
ZEKES LIQUORS (109 N. Cloverdale Ave., 707-894-5604) is, no surprise, predominantly a liquor store. But you can buy snacks here too (chips, hostess cupcakes), including La Michoacana paletas. It also has some local small production wines, such as Handleys Recall Red.
LONGS DRUG USED to have the best wine selection in town. No longer, but you can buy all sorts of fish and game supplies and licenses. This can come in handy if the cry goes out that steelhead are running on the Russian River as youre passing through town.
Theres a QUIK STOP MARKET at the north end of town if you need a slushie.
I erred previously when I said there was a Taco Bell in town. The fast food chains are limited to McDs, Subway, Aztec Grill, and KFC.
The downtown streets are still torn up and the project is behind schedule. Business from visitors has fallen off dramatically because of this and many of the merchants, especially those on the north side of town, are struggling to hold on until next year. The minor detours are well-marked and theres no chance youll get lost since the town is only eight blocks wide. Please visit and have a meal in Cloverdale.
Pick's is a local institution and I've enjoyed many a burger and 'shake there. The fries are the mealy, fat, crinkle-cut type and are best avoided. Per my earlier post, burgers are the "wet" style with the signature red relish, lots of mayo, shredded lettuce, and mushy tomatoes. The shakes are made with Clover Stornetta ice cream. Root beer floats from here are great on a hot day.
However, now that I've found Starry Net, that's where I'll get my fast food burgers and shakes. This is a 1/3 lb. burger with real cheese, whereas, Pick's is a 1/4 lb. with American cheese. I like American cheese on my burger, but if I can have the real thing for less money (Starry Net charges less) on a bigger burger made with better meat, the choice is clear. Also Starry Net serves the burger on a plate, not in a basket, open-face, so that you can see how gorgeously fresh the whole green leaf lettuce, the slice of juicy red tomato, and thinly shaved Bermuda onions are on one side and the real cheese on top of the patty. You're getting what Carl's Jr. calls a "restaurant burger" in its ads for a bargain price. The fries are very good and the shakes are made with a premium grade of ice cream.
I remember when hwy 101 became Main street in Cloverdale. As a kid I would drive through there all the time to go fishing at Clear Lake or diving on the Mendocino coast. I went through last year and boy has that town changed. Next time I'll know to stop by the Starry Net Cafe.
re: Nathan Lee
Yes, it has changed a lot since Del Webb developed a retiree subdivision here. Watching the shift in product line at the grocery store has mirrored the change in demographic. First the Odwalla case appeared, then cheeses other than prepacked jack and colby, and now an organic produce section! However, there are still meth drug busts, kiddie porn rings, and folks with no jobs.
The road to the coast past Lake Sonoma has been straightened out a lot. I still wouldn't want to drive it at night, but I took that route to Salt Point last year and was pleasantly surprised at how much work has been done on it.
I hope Starry Net Cafe sticks around. The lease is up in January, and with the downturn, the owner seemed like he wasn't sure whether he'd renew.
Have you ever tried fishing for steelhead on the Russian River? The season opens in November. The river bank is walkable from my house, but I've not fished it. Maybe there's an 11 lb. steelhead trout with my name on it.
re: Nathan Lee
If you two expert fishermen couldn't catch a trout, what chance do I have?
When I posted earlier, I couldn't remember the name of the road. It's Skaggs Springs Road which is the most direct route to the coast from Cloverdale, dropping you off at Stewarts Point, just south of Sea Ranch. Yes, Hwy 128 has been de-curved too in the last decade.
I missed the abalone festival. I was in Salinas at my Auntie Edythe's 90th birthday party.
re: Melanie Wong
We're no experts at steelhead fishing. It was a shot in the dark. Your chances are good because you're walking distance to the river.
I never took Skaggs Springs Road but did take a small winding (up there they all seem to be winding) road off the 128 that connects to hwy 1 several miles north of Pt. Arena. In the town of Pt. Arena there's a great bakery. I think the owner was from France. Unfortunately I never savored her creations as I'm always famished after a dive. Sometimes the food never touches my molars.
Some friends and I are planning a trip up to the Fort Ross area for some mushroom foraging after the first rains. Do you have any experience doing that?
re: Nathan Lee
I've been on foraging walks, but would not eat anything I find myself until an expert has keyed it. There are several experienced mushroom hunters who post on this board, one who is on-call for IDs, so if you have questions, post 'em here and you'll probably get an answer.
Salt Point on the Sonoma Coast (just south of where Skaggs Springs Rd. hits Hwy 1) is prime mushroom hunting area. You'll see holes in the duff when you hike there as evidence the foragers have been there. I collect mussels from the rocks there - the season starts Nov. 1.
My sister is a very accomplished "amateur" (she lectures on it) and I'd pass along a rule of thumb she practices -- she keeps all different types completely separate in plastic bags, this in case of a questionable one because one bad 'shroom infects all the rest with spores.
And just because someone foraged on the East Coast doesn't mean they're good to go here because there are a lot that look very much alike but the differences are deadly (we should be seeing our first case of wild mushroom poisoning in the SF Chronicle pretty soon.)
I ate at starry net just after they opened. They charged me a buck for a paper cup of tap water. The kitchen was slow, I was the only one there and it took ten minutes for the two 'cooks' to start my order. My bacon avo burger was barely OK, the fries were not the crispy wonders you described. I am hoping they have found their groove and I will try it again next time I am through there.
That water charge was ridiculous. I can believe that the kitchen could be slow. The first time I went in, I was the only person there, although a few other customers soon followed. The father took my order, and then took a while to review it with the son who was the cook. I have a feeling that if dad weren't there to supervise him, it would go even slower.
Usually I'll order my fries "well" to make sure they're crispy. But this time I forgot and was happy that they came out as nice and crisp as they were.