K&L Bistro, Sebastopol
- Melanie Wong
Reading Kathleen's post about Applewood Inn, I'll kick in a rec for another spot to eat in Russian River Valley. Last Friday after helping my friends at their winery for the first day of barrel-tasting weekend, we made a few quick calls to see where we could squeeze in for an early dinner. K&L offered us a table for 4 with the caveat that we'd need to give it up by 7:30pm for the reserved party. That was fine with us, and to guarantee a quick exit, we agreed to order just one course.
Well, as soon as we looked at the menu, we had to up that to two courses. I started with the grilled sardines, which turned out to be a giant serving. The heads were cut off, not sure whether for aesthetic reasons or to fit them on the plate. These were fantastic, brushed with good quality olive oil with perfect salting and a touch of chili pepper piquancy. Buttery tender with crinkly charred skin, the moist flesh slid off the bones. I loved the crinkly, oil-cured pitted black olives served warm on the side.
The carmelized onion and blue cheese tart was wonderful too. The onions were sweet, yet still had some crunch and integrity, melding with the cheese. I liked the ultra-flaky and buttery crust very much. While I'm not sure that the apple garnish added anything, they were very good, fresh apples.
I wasn't as excited about my entree, the forever roasted lamb on a bed of polenta, one of the day's specials. The jus and the flavorings were fine, however, the lamb was dried out. Some grilled artichokes filled out the plate and a sprinkling of peas added green freshness.
The Dungeness crab cakes were much better. Lynn'd had these before and leaped to order them immediately. These plump babies were almost all pure, sweet, absolutely fresh lumps of crab meat, and not mucked up with too much vegetables or bread crumbs. Dressed with a dab of the fresh tarragon and caper remoulade, my taste of this was the best mouthful of the evening. The well-done, very brown fries were good, but as Larry quipped, "they won't put Zuni out of business".
We brought two bottles of Pinot Noir with us, and ordered a half bottle of the Mason Napa Sauvignon Blanc from the list for $19. The current vintage seems to have a touch more residual sugar, but we loved its lively acid balance and the naked floral intertwined with aggressive citrusy fruit. The price was a tad high, but we had a pleasant surprise on the bill when we were only charged corkage on one of our bottles ($15) because we'd made a purchase from the wine list.
Our Pinots were -
1996 Joseph Swan "Saralee's Vineyard" RRV Pinot Noir - the first crop from a single row of experimental plantings of the then new Dijon clones. Still somewhat tight, this wine was shockingly youthful at near 10 years of age with pert red fruit, lively acid balance, and a long tapering finish. My last taste of this wine was some three years ago, and it was eye-opening to try it again. Larry said that if we'd had an hour to let it breathe in the glass, other bottles have opened up more.
1991 Mount Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Pinot Noir - still going strong in middle-age with a solid core of wild raspberry fruit and a briary gnarliness that I associate with this terroir. Great carriage, grace and balance, the polished fruit fanned over the palate revealing layers of earth, truffle, carob and other tertiary notes. Last tasted two years ago when I felt it was too young, this wine has advanced at a snail's pace. One more bottle to go.
K&L has nice stemware. We enjoyed these from Burgundy glasses.
Our servers were pushed to the max with just two of them on the floor assisted by one busser and the barkeep tending the customers at the counter. Yet they managed to be cheery and attentive overall. We didn't quite make it out in an hour due to some delays in service, but fortunately, the party after us was late in arriving. We were even offered after dinner drinks, but skipped those.
We were very happy with the food, experience, and value here. Enough that we couldn't help but kick ourselves for not eating here more often. I saw a note that they make their own charcuterie --- I'll have to come back for the boudin blanc.
K & L Bistro
119 S. Main St.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Monday - Saturday: 11:30am - 3:00pm
Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Afterwards we looped over to Gravenstein Station to check out the Starlight Wine Bar in the rail car formerly operated as Appellations. The dessert wines didn't grab us so we decided to forego a stop here. I'll be back another time for the small plates and other wine selections.
Next we gave into our sweet tooth with a stop at Screamin' Mimi's. At this time of the year, few fruit flavors graced the counter. I tried several flavors and settled on the carmel for the one scoop in my hot fudge sundae shown below. Very fudgey and turned solid when it hit the cool glass, freshly toasted walnuts, nice whipped cream, and the best part was the brandied cherry. Lynn said she wanted more of those.