I've been meaning to write about Lauren's Restaurant in Boonville for some time. Boonville is in the Anderson Valley. It is a small town of about 700 souls on the road to the Mendocino Coast. If you've ever driven to the town of Mendocino you most likely drove through Boonville.
Anderson Valley is now a big deal in the wine world, especially Pinot Noir. When the owner of Silver Oak Vineyard was still alive he told me that this valley may just be the greatest place to grow Pinot Noir in the country.
Fortunately, the town is not a big deal. Quite the opposite. That is what makes Lauren's restaurant so great. No phony airs like with the Boonville Hotel. I'm not saying the Hotel can't come up with a great meal, it's just that the menu hasn't changed much in the last fifteen years and the place is always for sale. Not very encouraging. At least to me.
As to Lauren's. Well, it is great food using local organic ingredients when ever possible. The pasta with organic tomatoes from local Brock Farms is to die for when the tomatoes are in season. There is a sliced steak dish with horseradish sauce and au Gratin Potatoes that will also knock you out.
Lauren doesn't take credit cards but she will gladly take a check so that is not a problem. Also, on Thursday nights at 9pm the locals play live music. Not great music but it is so much fun to hear them play that it makes up for not being great.
Several local wines are on the menu by the glass or bottle, plus you can order the great local Boonville Beer.
Take some time this summer to check out Boonville. Stay at the Sheep Dung Estates which is dog friendly or at the Hotel, or at the Anderson Creek Inn or just camp at Hendy Woods State Park. Also, be sure to visit some of the tasting rooms.
Try Lazy Creek, Black Kite, Navarro Vineyards, Goldeneye, Toulouse Vineyards, or any of the other dozens of first rate tasting rooms.
Thanks so much. I found this online menu. Does it look current? If so, great prices
Have you tried the apple dumpling?
Looking at the schedule, there is a Woolgrowers BBQ in July. Have you been to it? If so, what is it like?
14211 Highway 128, Boonville, CA 95415
That looks like an older menu. Some things I remember but it is a little bit better now. One difference is the season. We are heading into better local fruits and vegetables season.
Lauren has to keep her prices low for the locals. Locals are her bread and butter business.
If you haven't been to the Sheep Dog Trials you are in for a treat. I have never seen some much drama acted out with a sheep dog and about six sheep before a silent crowd of nearly 500 onlookers.
The sheep dog trials I believe are part of the wool growers BBQ. They also do it at the county fair in September.
Other events that are special are the Saturday farmer's market in the gravel parking lot of the Boonville Hotel. About 9am to Noon on Saturday. The Valley garden tour, and the Artist Studio Tour.
The thing that is neat about these two tours is that you get to see how people are living in the Anderson Valley. Artists and rich folk alike.
I have not been to the Woolgrowers BBQ but I have been to the County Fair, the yearly Pinot Festival, and many other local events.
The point is, you don't have to go for an event. There is a huge event this weekend The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. Town will be packed. I prefer slow food and a slow Boonville.
Best time is mid week. Almost no tourists so the locals think you might be a local. But if you want to do an event, the Wool Growers BBQ is a good one. Expect great grilled lamb and hand made products.
But note, this is not Chowhound fare at the BBQ. It is just authentic local BBQ.
Another spot in Boonville is the Zina Hyde Cunningham tasting room right on the square. The Cunningham family goes way back in the area, and they have some very nice award winners, And yes, Pinot.
Check out zinawinery.com
If you go, tell 'em Charlotte sent ya. They might know who I am.
Anderson Valley is a great place to visit; I am surprised that you are down on the Boonville Hotel. I enjoy staying there and the restaurant menu is always fresh, seasonal and interesting. I tried Lauren's once awhile back and was less impressed but maybe should give it another shot.
My personal favorite winery is Esterlina; you need to make an appointment and then make a long drive up to the winery but you are awarded by magnificent views and true hospitality. The tasting is leisurely and generous, so don't plan on rushing on to the next winery (indeed, don't bother going to the Anderson Valley if you plan on rushing anywhere -- that is not the point of being there).