3 dinners-Zazu, Ad Hoc or Redd, & La Salette?
We are planning a somewhat last minute trip up north (we live in L.A.) and are hoping for some restaurant and wine guidance.
The Sat. after next we are going to drive up to S.F. and stay in the city that night. We are thinking Incanto (having done Delfina--loved it!!--and A16--liked it--on previous visits this past year). Then Sunday we are going to drive up to the wine country. We are staying at the Gaige House Inn in Glen Ellen. We normally go to Healdsburg, but were just there with my parents (disappointed by Cyrus--report to follow soon) so chose Sonoma to experience something new. We have been to Napa before, though admittedly not since 2003 or so. I am fairly clueless having never been to the Sonoma area (meaning town, not county).
I did a lot of reading on this board in the last couple of days, and we think we will do one dinner in Napa, one in the town of Sonoma, and one in Santa Rosa. Here are my dinner-related questions:
1) For our 1st dinner (on Sunday), we were tempted to hit Mirepox in Windsor, where we have had great meals on every Healdsburg visit, but given our location, thought we should not go north of Santa Rosa. Zazu's menu looked appealing - is it worth the drive? (or should we hit one of the Sonoma restaurants listed below in #3? We also considered Syrah)
2) We want to have one dinner over in Napa (probably on Monday) given all the places that have opened since our last visit. Trying to decide between Ad Hoc and Redd. Ad Hoc seems like a great concept, though it's a crap shoot in terms of what is served I guess. Redd sounds great to me, but my husband is leaning toward Ad Hoc. Any thoughts on this?
3) For the dinner close to where we are staying (on Tues.), we thought La Salette in Sonoma based on how interesting the menu is and favorable posts on here. If anyone strongly disagrees, let me know (we also looked at Cafe La Haye, Girl and the Fig and the General's Daughter).
Finally, I have never visited any wineries in lower Sonoma--not sure of the terminology, just trying to distinguish area around Sonoma the town from the county. Any recommendations? I definitely prefer smaller producers that are not on the tour bus route. And ones where they do not look annoyed to have another person walk in the door, if you get my drift. We like all kinds of wine, though rarely drink Merlo and do not care for very oaky Chardonnays. A friend recommended Richardson, Nicholson Ranch, and Hanzell but didn't tell me anything about them.
I really appreciate any and all info. Thanks very much.
Hi Megan - welcome to Sonoma County, we hope you enjoy your visit. Can't help you much with the wineries - but don't know that I would drive to Santa Rosa with all of the great food there is to be had in Sonoma. I would absolutely recommend La Salette, haven't had anything but fabulous food there, but I would also highly recommend The General's Daughter and the Girl and the Fig. General's Daughter is my personal favorite and where I take everyone that is coming here from out of town. Good luck and good eating!
Let's see...lots of stuff to respond to. First, food. Given the good reviews of both Girl and the Fig, and General's Daughter, you might want to skip hitting Santa Rosa (Zazu) and hitting GD one night and GatF a second night. Or, if you really feel pulled to traveling outside of Sonoma/Glen Ellen, I've heard lots of good things about Zazu, but haven't eaten there yet. I have eaten at and recommend Underwood (Graton, if you feel like a bit of a scenic drive though a lot of pretty Sonoma county), Willi's Wine Bar (Santa Rosa location, near Wells Fargo Center and Larkfield) and SEA Thai (Santa Rosa, in Montgomery Village).
I have winery recommendations, but I'm not quite sure (just getting into the wine thing myself, even though I was born and raised in the town of Sonoma) if they are outside of the tour bus route or not. They happen to be ones where I've had a good experience.
Robledo Winery: http://www.robledofamilywinery.com/ "North America's first Tasting Room and Winery established by a Mexican Migrant Vineyard Worker" quoth the website. Small winery, beautiful tasting room, and the people working in the tasting room are most likely family members.
Cline Winery: http://www.clinecellars.com/ Beautiful grounds (including some nifty chicken coops with pretty chickens. heh.), pleasant tasting room workers, good place to have a little picnic, nice wine to boot. (:
Ravenswood Winery: http://www.ravenswoodwinery.com/ Again, beautiful grounds, informative and pleasant tasting room workers, and very tasty zin's (among other wines). This one may be one of those along the "tour bus routes" though. I'm not sure if it's small enough for your criteria.
Wellington Winery, http://www.wellingtonvineyards.com/, and Loxton Winery, http://www.loxtonwines.com/, are right next door to each other, on Dunbar Road in Glen Ellen. This might be a good visit for you, as you are going to be in the area anyway.
Buena Vista Winery: http://buenavistacarneros.com/, one of the older wineries in Sonoma. I've always loved the grounds and the wine. Heh. I'm a bit biased lately, as my mother now works for them in the tasting room. But I think it's still a nice winery to visit. Not exactly a "small producer" though.
As for Hanzell, I just did a quick web query, and apparently it costs a bit to visit the winery grounds, and you need to call ahead to reserve a time. Hm. Interesting. http://www.hanzell.com/guests.html
Hope this helps!
In Napa I would recommend Bouchon if you haven't been already. If you have time to do the tour the art at the DiRosa preserve, it is pretty amazing. You would be in a breathtaking environment with all the heavy hitters of contemporary California art.
Re: Zazu. It is tasty and earthy (a bit funky) but Driving from SR to Sonoma is TOO far to enjoy.
La Salette, definitely. Interesting menu, great kitchen and warm service. For wineries: Cline, Gundlach Bundschu, Homewood, Larson Family and Schug. This time of year, you may get run over by "the hordes" just about anywhere, but these are a typically just a little off the radar. You may want to go to Viansa for the over the topness of it all. Don't forget Vella Cheese just off the square in Sonoma.
When we visit we've usually stayed in Sonoma - though we're staying in Healdsburg for the first time next week. Girl and the Fig is wonderful, we've had a very nice meal at General's Daughter too.
I actually prefer more of the wineries on the northern end of Sonoma County (which is why we're staying in Healdsburg this trip). For around Sonoma - Ravenswood is probably perceived as a "tour bus" winery because of their ubiquitous Vintner's Blend, but a visit there is a good experience particularly if you're a zin fan. They are usually pouring several different "County" series which gives a nice idea of the range of styles and some of the characteristics of particular growing regions. I have also never run into an unfriendly server there in several visits. Cline is also nice to visit and have a range of zins and rhone style wines. Gloria Ferrer does nice sparklers. A friend who was just out recently recommended Landmark and Arrowood near Glen Ellen / Kenwood.
Thank you for all this.
Ok, so we will skip dining in Santa Rosa, and La Salette sounds like a lock. I booked that.
So the General's Daughter, Girl & the Fig or Cafe la Haye?
Anyone have any input on Ad Hoc or Redd for our other night? (And can anyone tell me realistically how long it would take to reach Napa and Yountville from Glen Ellen?)
To answer another question, we have been to Bouchon several times. We plan on going for lunch while tasting over there. I love to sit at the bar or in the bar area and just get oysters and frites (and eat lots of their wonderful bread and butter).
I am hoping for less madness while tasting on Mon. and Tues., but I realize it is August.
Would also love any additional winery advice. (And thank you for no one pointing out my typo above re Merlot- eek).