Raves for Restaurant Eloise in Sebastapool
The BF and I went there tonight and had a truly great meal. They are brand new so one could expect service glitches, underperforming dishes, or any manner of problems (we are in the biz so we are especially mindful of such things) but they delivered 100%.
To start we had sardines with celery and walnuts. By the time I tasted the sardines (BF devoured most of them) they were closer to room temp but were still meaty in that oily fish kind of way without being overpowering in that oily fish kind of way. They were great with the walnuts, kind of an earth and ocean thing.
The big, pleasant suprise of the night was the bone marrow. It was (local) beef marrow served with some coarse grained salt and a salad of parsley, caper, marinated onion, and cornichon. The salad was really piquant which off set the richness of the marrow. Outstanding.
We followed with two fish dishes. BF had the sand dabs with brown butter, capers, and artichokes and I had milk soaked halibut with green beans (blue lakes?) and three varietes of sweet onions. Usually my favorite way to eat halibut is raw so I was wary of it being both cooked AND soaked in milk but it was a great way to prepare this fish. It was tender and melded with its butter based sauce seamlessly. Both fish dishes were great with the wine which they helped us choose. The wine list is compact and mostly CA which can be tricky to navigate with food (never know how much oak you will be forced to ingest) but the chardonnay that they offer is truly Burgundian in style and was great with buttery fish dishes.
By dessert I was fairly full but still enjoyed the offerings. We got the donuts with raspberry jam which wasn't as cloying as it sounds. The "jam" was more like a sauce which was plenty tart and sufficiently fruity while the donuts were fluffy and not too sweet. We also had a brioche type bread that was cooked (partially) in simple syrup and doused with whipped cream and rum. Again, not too sweet and really interesting flavors.
They have a garden out back where they grow a lot of their produce and it pays off. The dishes that feature this produce really pop, especially the mild, green, parsley they used for the bone marrow.
Anyhoo, I would suggest going out of your way to check this place out.
Thanks so much for posting, AIG. Do they offer a tasting menu? I posted recently looking for a place for an anniversary dinner for 16 people, with a tasting menu. I remember that building as being divided into several areas, which made it quieter. Plus everything I read about it sounded like the kind of food we love. I imagine they would put together a tasting menu for the table if it's arranged ahead of time. After reading your post I'll certainly follow your advice and check it out.
You're right, in our tipsy wandering around the restaurant, we did see a separate area towards of the back of the restaurant which seems like it would be a good spot for a private dinner. If I remember right, there isn't a door that closes it off but it's set pretty far away from where we were seated in the main room. We were so focussed on our little dinner that we didn't get any info about tasting menus and things but they seem pretty accomodating in general so maybe.
I also loved this place. It's only a few blocks from my home so I have already been there several times. They are so friendly and welcoming I am thrilled to have them in the neighborhood! I'll be spending a lot of time at the bar doing my homework over delicious coffee and desserts. I reviewed it on menuism.com, but i will transfer the review over here.
My DH and I got there for dinner last week. He had an appetizer of several types of mushrooms in a wine reduction sauce on toast with a poached egg. I had sweetbreads that had a deep-fried coating, and were with mustard and pickled veggies. The sweetbreads were perfectly prepped and cooked, but I wasn't so crazy about the fried coating, and I didn't think they stood up to all the vinegar in the mustard and pickles the way tongue or sausage would. I was wishing I was eating my husband's delicious mushroom sauce on my sweetbreads.
I had cassoulet, my husband had a veal chop-- both the creamed vegetables with his veal chop and my cassoulet was lots, lots saltier than I'd like, and I like salt generally. Other than that everything was good, the duck in my cassoulet just meltingly tender, and he beans tender but not mushy.
Had the baba au rum for dessert. Mmmmmm.
I'd love to go back, but I'm hoping they keep making sweetbreads but change the presentation. And I'll ask about which dishes are very salty and avoid those.
re: Melanie Wong
It's true, Melanie, since it was my first time there, I ordered things I was curious about rather than dishes that fit the season. Although that evening it had cooled off in Sebastopol. Sebastopol usually gets evening fog and it's very unusual to have a warm evening--- maybe that's why the restaurant has winter dishes as well as summer fare.
We've been twice so far and extremely pleased both times. Favorites were the sand dabs and sardines described above, a supreme salad "Puntarelle, Chopped Egg Vinaigrette, Candied Bacon" (puntarelle, as I learned, is a very slightly spicy green that they grow on site), and a lovely white (white grape and almond) gazpacho (very refreshing), I also ordered the octopus salad one night, and although good, it's not the stand-out the other dishes are. Husband felt the same way about the brandade he had one night.
For dessert we've had a pear crepe drizzled with dark chocolate, which made me weep with joy, and a baba rum that made husband weep with joy (rum = not my thing, baba = my thing.)
I had the bone marrow the first time we went and loved it, but probably would not do it again...just way too many calories. Glad I ordered it once in my life though.
The wait staff, host, bartender, and manager are all warm and welcoming. We felt we were given very individual attention. The restaurant is also warm and charming.
The first time we went we were seated in the small room after the bar. It would be great for small private parties.
Happy to have Eloise in the county!