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Mar 4, 2008 03:09 PM

Barreltasting, good food in Russian River area?

This week-end is the annual barreltasting event at wineries in Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, Healdsburg, etc. Any recommendations for wineries with a good range of excellent reds, esp pinot noirs, available to taste and for good food below the Cyrus price range? Unfortunately, many of the trendier Healdsburg spots are already booked. Has anyone tried the restaurant at the Applewood Inn in Guerneville? Sample menu looks great:

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  1. There are lots of recs for wineries on this board in each of the areas you mention.
    Your best bet is do a search using Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, and
    Healdsburg as one of your search terms and wineries as the other. You can do the same
    for restaurants.

    1. I highly recommend Applewood Inn. It's a beautiful spot with a warm yet elegant room. If you like, there is a large window on the kitchen in the hall on the way to the restrooms so you can watch your dinner being prepared. I had the very best duck breast of my life there - perfectly crispy skin and rare, juicy tender meat. There was also a blood orange creme brulee that was heavenly. Service was warm and helpful but never intrusive. How long will you be in the area? Where are you staying? This is my stomping grounds.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Kathleen M

        Many thanks for the informative report; reservation has been made. I know wine country dress code is generally quite casual, but would we be out of place in jeans and non-T shirt tops? We'll only be in the area for the week-end, staying at the newly refurbished Dawn Ranch Lodge in Guerneville. Thinking about Bovolo (reputed to have great charcuterie) or Ravenous in Healdsburg for lunch. Any suggestions for alternatives, perhaps away from the likely crowds in Healdsburg?

        1. re: dordogne

          Well, you wouldn't be out of place in jeans, but depending on your comfort level, you might want to upgrade to something like Dockers. I think I wore a dress, but it was a personal special occasion. I haven't eaten at Bovolo but have heard it's good. I love Ravenous, but you are right that it will probably be very crowded, and it's not a very big place. It kind of depends on where you will be at lunch, but I'll put in a plug for a current personal favorite of mine, Cafe les Jumelles in Monte Rio, just 4 miles west of Guerneville on Hwy 116. I eat there all the time (I live in easy walking distance) but I really think that they are at their best for brunch or lunch. VERY casual, but the chef/owner really cares about food, and the basics are just a little bit better than you would find elsewhere. For someplace a bit less crowded in Healdsburg, Taqueria El Sombrero is also VERY casual but very good. I think they make the best chili rellenas anywhere. If you get up as far as Geyserville, Taverna Santi is open for lunch. I haven't been there since chef Thomas Oden retired, but I hear it's still really good.

          1. re: Kathleen M

            Cafe les Jumelles sounds great but I can't find any online menu to see what type of cuisine they serve. Kathleen M, do you mind expanding a bit on the dishes they serve, especially for dinner/lunch as I think you've posted a few breakfast items already? Thanks!

            1. re: hungryinaz

              Well, it's pretty much "all-American" with sandwiches, salads, burgers etc. at lunch and dinner, but as I said, just a bit better than you expect. All the salad dressings are house made, they do a lovely marinated onion on many salads and sandwiches, applewood smoked bacon on the club sandwich, touches like that. And everything made from scratch: the turkey in the sandwiches roasted in house, the candied nuts on the salad house made, etc. On weekends there is always a chef's special burger (and the burgers are great, juicy, and so far mine has always been cooked exactly as ordered) and frequently another special - once it was just the tastiest braised chicken ever. I had dinner there last weekend, and both my husband and I ordered the salmon special. The salmon was definitely fresh and cooked perfectly, still a little rare on the inside, but with a nice crisp light brown outside. It was served with a "vegetable rissoto" - and I put the quote marks in because it really wasn't a rissoto, the texture was all wrong, but it was a pretty nice rice pilaf sort of a thing with fresh vegetables that still had a nice bite to them. It's not by any means gourmet food, or destination dining, but rather a nice local place where the food is always good and occasionally really good.

              1. re: Kathleen M

                Here's a little more info from the Chow Digest

                Les Jumelles
                15025 River Rd., Guerneville, CA 95446