Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jun 28, 2008 09:13 AM

New York Hound’s looking for wine country recommendations!

Eight of us staying in Sonoma next Sunday through Wednesday; we have dinner reservations Sunday at John Ash and Tuesday at the French Laundry. Need to know a couple of casual lunch options and a casual dinner option. I don’t need two big meals in the same day so lunch could be salads, burgers or anything that is a wine country must.

I was thinking of lunch at the CIA, Greystone on Wednesday but am open for ideas. We have cars and we don’t mind driving just want to get a real feel of the area in the short time we’re there.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Greystone is wonderful. But it is not light food, It is a gracious dining experience. As to casual places, I can't help with that. Try the search on this board for Sonoma.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Janet

      I realize Greystone wouldn't be light dining, thats why I'm doing it Wednesday. Looking for lighter meals for lunch Sunday and Tuesday and have nothing planned for Monday.

      I have been serching the board and have a bunch of ideas such as Bistro Ralph, Zin, Mosaic, the Girl and the Fig, Market. But I'm looking for a must have to stop in kind of place. When people come to NY I have a couple of those suggestion for them, such as Katz's for pastrami.

      I'm not looking for ethnic food just a must go to place!

      1. re: Jim P

        Pack a picnic from Oakville Grocery and eat at a winery. Different than any NYC experience. Also, dinner at Bouchon focusing on seafood would be great and could be light.

        We spent a week in Napa/Sonoma/and Greystone was the worst experience we had (ther stops were dinner at Gordon's, Brix, Bouchon, Celadon, Scala's Bistro (SF). The service bordered on obnoxious and rude (may very well have been the particular server we had). We didn't stop at Taylor's Refresher but it seems to get pretty good reviews and would be unique.

        1. re: TonyO

          Thanks for the idea, picnic at a winery does sound nice. As far as Bouchon I travel to Vegas, on business monthly and eat at that locaton almost monthly.

          1. re: Jim P

            I think you would find the one in Napa to be a different experience although raw oysters are great in nearly any setting.

            1. re: TonyO

              Bouchon's kitchen is being renovated and the resto isn't up to snuff.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Thanks for the info. Sometimes I am hesitant to make recs about Napa from Vermont but am glad that timely updates are added as needed !

    2. The town of Sonoma is not all that close to the city Napa itself, maybe 25 minutes drive to center of town. And the town of Sonoma is probably 30 minutes from HWY 101 which is main artery to Healdsburg. If I remember correctly it takes about 1 hour to get to Healdsburg if you go the back way, meaning HWY 12 north, through Santa Rosa to 101. The town of Saint Helena is probably 40 minutes from town of Sonoma and CIA is north of Saint Helena. So if you are a little more clear on what your itinery is, dining suggestions will make more sense.

      1. Jim, I'm really trying not to be a curmudgeon here...John Ash is not very good at all, and hasn't been for years. They just announced a new chef, but I'd hate for you to spend your money there and be disappointed, especially when there are so many better options. I'm not a fan of Greystone, either. Bouchon is having their kitchen remodeled, and while they are, the restaurant is really off its game. I only recommend sitting at the bar anyway -- even when the kitchen is fully operable -- because the regular dining room area has terrible acoustics, and you cannot hear your dining companions at the same table as you, but you can hear the person speaking on either side of you at different tables! So, it's not a resto for a group at all.

        So, given all that..yes, French Laundry is lovely and an "event", Redd, Ad Hoc, Terra and Martini House (amazing patio and food) are all much better choices than the CIA.

        In the John Ash/Healdsburg area, there are many: Farmhouse Inn, Santi, Ravenous/Ravenette, Willi's, Zazu and so forth.

        There have been a great many threads recently that have included comments on all these restaurants, including the ones you've listed. Do a little reading. Please be advised that the town of Sonoma is at the southern end of the very large county of Sonoma, which includes Healdsburg and Santa Rosa. You may want to check a map and driving times because the county of Sonoma and Napa Valley look deceptively close, but there is a bit more driving time between the two than most people realize.

        Good luck to you, and I hope you find restaurants where you will feel your money was well-spent.

        2 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          I second ML's comments re: the CIA & John Ash. Greystone is definitely underwhelming and John Ash, well, it's hasn't been good for so long that I rarely hear anyone even mention it anymore.

          1. re: hulagirlgardens

            Thank you hulagirl and maria, CIA is out. I don't have much choice on John Ash let’s just say, that one I have to give into.

            As far as where we're staying, it’s the Doubletree in Rohnert Park. We have a designated driver and we have no problem doing some miles.

            The group will probably split up on Monday and 4 of us haven’t decided on lunch and dinner.

        2. Cafe Citti, in Kenwood on Highway 12, is a nice place to go for an Italian lunch - a panini, past & a salad, etc. It is failry casual. You order at the counter and they bring you your meal when it is ready. Prices are modest.

          2 Replies
          1. re: DavidT

            Thanks look good, quick and easy for one of the days we're doing a big dinner.

            1. re: Jim P

              Cafe Citti is known far and wide for their roast chicken. Their potato salad, and I don't often rave about potato salad, is dreamy stuff. Not much is around it, though.

          2. So I have a bunch of places to go but what would be the the must go to places, breakfast, lunch and dinner? Price being somewhat of a factor since we are already going to FL. Thanks

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jim P

              Being in Rohnert Park puts a whole specific spin on suggestions. Apart from TFL, I would strongly urge you to focus on Sonoma County and there are no shortages of amazing places to go.
              Zazu, Santa Rosa
              Farmhouse, Forestville
              Bistro Ralph, Healdsburg
              Ravenous, Healdsburg
              Cyrus, Healdsburg
              Nick's Cove at the coast
              Mirepoix for lunch or dinner, Windsor
              All the Russian River Valley wineries
              All the Dry Creek Valley wineries
              People love the Stark restaurant group place: Willi's Wine Bar, Willi's Seafood, and heard good things about the steak house, Stark's Steaks
              Hana Sushi in Rohnert Park is terrific
              EDK and Girl and the Fig in Sonoma
              K&L Bistro in Sebastopol

              1. re: Madge

                Madge you're terriffic! which are your favorite!