Fremont Diner is located on Highway 121 heading towards Napa/Sonoma, from the North Bay. It used to be a place called, Babe's, which I sadly never got to go to. Babe's has been closed for some time.
The lastest incarnation, Fremont Diner, is the "child" of a chef who has his own Napa Valley catering company, Rising Sun Catering, now Caridwyn and Sons. From the outside you see bright turquoise picnic benches set in a small side patio with a white picket fence surrounding it. When you enter the swinging screen door, you feel as if you've stepped back into another time, maybe even in the deep South. There is a small refridgerator for drinks on the left, a shelf system of old wood next to it with a few items, including Fra Mani Salami, and the same on the right with some Fremont Diner paraphernalia. Your orde at the walk-up window which looks out onto the open kitchen, with an adorable FREMONT silver letter set above the walkout. The entire ambiance is country comfortable, with a city edge. The counter is brushed stainless steel, the stools have a shabby chic old-school finish, and the tables all have a certain sense of antiquity, yet they are great quality.
The menu is easy-peasy, I want it all. Breakfast has everything from Griddle Cakes with blueberries, to Shrimp n' Grits, to Big River Granola and Yogurt. Lunch and Dinner are burgers, pulled-pork sandwhiches, fried chicken po'boys, and a few vegan and vegetarian options. You can have a malt, shake, beer, or water. Most dishes come with fries or onion rings (those were great!) and are a substantial size. Pricing is fair, and what's more, it's a place I want to support. The chef sources his meat locally, Marin Sun Farms, and many of his veg, too.
I highly suggest planning a trip by there either on your way up to Wine Country, or even just for a beautiful road trip. They are open 6 days a week from 7-7, with the exception of Sunday (which I think is ridiculous!!!!!!!!! have you seen the traffic heading back to SF? I say capitalize on the sad souls that have to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic just to get back to 37! ) Good luck to Fremont Diner, the burger was great, and the place just emits a comfortable, homey vibe.
Heads up, the hours are wiggling around again! We went yesterday around 2:30 or 3pm. The sign on the door says they are closed at 4pm now (something about daylight savings) *but* they will soon be open on Sundays!
They were sold out of the fried chicken & we just missed the last fried fruit pie, so sad! Spousette had the whole hog sandwich, which she liked a lot. I don't really eat pork (unless it's bacon... the gateway meat) so I didn't taste it. I got an open-faced sandwich with goat cheese, shaved fennel & red sunchoke, which was scrumptious. It came with a salad, which featured exceptionally fresh baby lettuces unfortunately overdressed in a too-vinegary dressing, but then I am notoriously picky about salad dressing.
Pickle plate was good (especially the cauliflower) & good value as previously reported. Onion rings were good but I wouldn't call them exceptional by any means. I discovered that I quite enjoyed eating them with the different kinds of pickled onions though!
Two words ... corn fritters
Wonderful, wonderful. These people know how to fry.
Best right out of the frier when they are lighter than air. Nice bits of sweet corn with chopped jalepeno. While hot, the jalepeno flavor wasn't very strong. They come with a sort of dip that is similar to tartar sauce but without the capers and maybe with some red pepper.
However, hot they don't need a thing and IMO the dip is just too much for a fried item. I was thinking they'd be nice with a tomato-based dip and finishing them off at home I paired them with Mammarella's terrific tomato sauce and it was a great pairing.
About a dozen fritters about the size of a small plum. Enough for 2-3 to share ... for one... make a meal of them.
They were selling mason jars of their pickled cherries, two types of plum jam and some apricot sauce.
Once again the quest for the elusive (for me) blueberry fried pie was unsuccessful. The people in front of me ordered the last one.
What did you try?
I haven't been wowed by everything, but the things they do well are great. I would say that the top tastes for me were the fried chicken, fried pies, fried corn fritters ... sense a pattern here? ... grits, pickles jam.
I thought the hot dog was only ok but good for the price. They have been trying different brands of dogs, so I didn't report as it might be here today, different tommorrow. They fry the dog on the griddle which is a nice change from the usual boiled dogs. Currently they are using Evergood ... or something Ever ... It is a skinny, skinless foot long dog.
The price is certainly great ... $3. For an extra $1 I got the chili dog which gives a generous topping of chili. Can't say about the bun. If that is the same bun they use for the regular dog, too much bun to frank. However, for the chili dog it worked perfectly and didn't fall apart with all that chili.
It is a good chili but mild. There's a lot more hamburer than beans maybe a 2/3 ration to 1/3 ... or 3/4 to 1/4. Topped with some onions and cheese this would be nice. For those who want spicy, add a shot or more of hot sauce to your preference..
They are really geared to the lunch crowd so stocked for that. The later in the afternoon, the more likely lots will be sold out. They are also trying to attract locals rather than tourists, so the prices are not outrageous. You can get a grilled cheese sandwich (St. George cheddar) with fries for $5.99.Haven't tried that yet but the portion size is generous so there's no micro sandwich stuff going on here.
Oh ... I just looked at yesterday's menu and they had a side of yellow-eyed peas with ham hock for $3.
There's still stuff that would appeal to tourists though and at a good price such as the current country meat platter for $10 - dry aged Berkshire pork, chorizo, bresaola, sopressata, vella jack cheese w/preserved summer truffles, griddled bread & pickled onions ... can't get something like that for that price elsewhere. Sitting outside on a picnic table with a bottle of wine bought at one of the wineries ... good times.
Haven't had the salads yet.
Hmmm ... I have to be up that way this afternoon. I'm thinking I might go for the Peach salad ($7.50) - Honey Crisp peaches with fresh morzzarella, star route arugual & dry aged ham ... oh yeah, that sounds good. Now if I can only resist those great milkshakes.
Ooh, that peach salad looks good, and I'm dying to try the fried pies. We were there for an early lunch (just missed breakfast) one day, and I think just had bad timing. Had the pig sandwich, onion rings and something else, but I think the fact that the first 3 or 4 things that I tried to order were sold out put me off.
I'll definitely be back, but the hours are a killer for this local - it's too far of a run during lunch, and I don't usually leave work until 6, so the 7pm (or earlier) close is iffy. I'll have to try a Saturday with the tourists.
Went with a friend today and he agreed for sheer ambiance it was an eleven on a scale of 10.
- Fremont Burger
- Whole Hog Sandwich
- Onion rings
- Strawberry shake
- Fried cherry pie
- Plum popsicle
- Farro with lemon, mint & feta salad
Great strawberry shake that comes with the big metal cup it is mixed in. It is everything a shake should be. I think they may have also added some fresh strawberries because there were strawberry seeds at the very bottom.
Friend loved the plum popsicle as much as I did on a previous visit
Slight blip with the fried pie as the filling was still cool. Still terrific though.
Good thick burger with a nice bun. Friend loved the pickles too. They are selling deli take-out containers of pickles which are house made.
The pulled pork was the only thing so far there I thought was truly meh. It looked good but didn't taste like much.
The fries were ok, but we preferred the onion rings which are thick slices.
The farrow salad was a deli take out in the cooler. It was nicely done. They also had containers of pickled red onions.
One of the sandwiches came with pickled Chelan cherries. These people do good things with fruit. Nice little spicy zing.
They had a really swell looking caramel cake today, but we were stuffed.
The menu does change. The fish sandwich, mac and cheese and ham with biscuits were different. There is a new country meat platter. No chicarrons, but a side of pickles is offered for $1. I highly recommend that.
They have adopted capital letters
Fish Sandwich $10
Local halibut cheeks & parsley salad w/avocado & capers on a baguette w/fried yukons
Baked Farmers Cheese Dumplings $9
Like Macaroni & cheese but better
Vella Caesar Salad $6.50
Littl gem lettuce w/dry vella jack cheese, croutons, & dressing
Niman Ranch ham & biscuits $6.50
Niman ranch ham w/buttermilk biscuits, grainy mustard & preserved blueberries
Country Meat Platter
Dry aged Berkshire pork, chorizo, griddled bread & pickled chelan cherries
The star of that menu for me remains the Nashville Hot chicken ... and anything with fruit.
The hours are slightly different and since they are new I imagine changes in the future. It might be good to call and check if stopping by early in the morning or toward the end of the day. They were undecided on whether they would be open on July 4th. New hours are on the place record.
These people know how to fry.
I stopped by for lunch today and had
- Nashville hot chicken ... wow
- Fried apricot pie ... double wow
Sooo ... this is a whole food genre ... here's a blog just devoted to Nashville hot chicken.
What it is is spicy fried chicken ... in this case a bone-in drumstick and thigh on top of a slice of white bread which is used to catch the spicy chili sauce. The hot sauce is added to the batter. This restuarant (not in Nashville) tells the story of Nashville Hot chicken
This other site with a picture ... complete with pickles on top says ...
"A hot-chicken serving is either a leg and thigh or a breast and wing‚ fried to a crispy brown in a cast-iron skillet and served atop two slices of white bread. Pickles speared with a toothpick provide the garnish. Purcell‚ a regular at Prince’s for 30 years‚ describes the bread‚ sopping with the chicken’s grease and spices‚ as “kind of like dessert.”
If this isn't the best fried chicken in the bay area I don't know what its. I can't imagine that Ad Hoc or T-Rex or whoever has the fried chicken title of the moment ... can top this.
The coating is shattering crisp. That slice of white bread is a little toasted on one side and after absorbing the juices ... here's a word I haven't dragged out in a while... awesome ... truly awesome.
The red pinquito beans were done simply ... mainly with pot liquor.
The big river pickles topped a piece of chicken and were tasty, crunchy bread and butter pickles. I wish they sold jars of these.
That fried apricot pie was lovely ... it was nestled in brown paper and was a half moon turnover with a light flakey crust and a fresh apricot filling. It was lightly dusted with powdered sugar. They sold out of the blueberry. I'll bet it is terrific.
The Cheerwine was a tasty cherry soda with cane sugar. Very good.
They expanded a little more. They had fresh fruit for sale ... beautiful blenheim apricots, santa rosa plums and Chelan cherries.
This is very dog-friendly and the house dogs are Ruby and Angus ... a sign requests not to feed them. They are amiable dogs that mainly stretch out and snooze. There were two people who brought their dogs.
It was such a great day to sit outside at a picnic table and just enjoy the food and the view of the vinyards.
re: Melanie Wong
$8.5 ... there's an e.e.cummings thing going on with the menu
the fremont burger
7 oz grass fed w/big river pickles, sauce & french fries add matos cheddar or point reyes blue $1, bacon $1.5, onion jam $.5
Had a swell breakfast there this morning ... the best I have had in a long, long time. Will post more when I have time. I have the menu. Did I mention this is a swell place?
Thanks Doodleboomer for announcing they were open. They were supposed to open two Saturdays ago, but didn't. This is as good ,if not better, than I hoped for.
I'll post the rest of the menu in this topic but I'm going to post the breakfast report in a separate thread because there's some stuff on that menu that are things people look for and I want to make them more visible to people who might not think they want to eat at a place called Fremont Diner.
I really planned just to add my breakfast report here which is why I didn't add a link or comment because I knew I'd be in the area today ... let me just say ... cheesy grits ... moi(makies kissing noise).
Here's the rest of the menu ...
LUNCH - in addition to the burger ... I think it changes as they printed today's menu for me to take
whole hog sandwich $8.25
pulled pork w/big river bbq sauce, chopped coleslaw & onion rings
fish sandwich $10
petrale sole w/romoulade, coleslaw, pickled onions & french fries
macaroni & cheese $7.25
old fashioned hotdog $3
add chili $1, add cheese $.5
nashville hot chicken $10.25
white bread, big river pickles & pinquito beans w/ham hock
fried chickpea po'boy $6.5
remoulade, coleslaw, & a green salad
daily salad $mkt
col. newsom's ham & buiscuits $6.5
cat head biscuits w/griddled ham, fennel pollen, & grainy mustard
grilled cheese $7.25
grilled cheese w/st. george cheddar, & french fries
- Sides -
french fries $2.5
pinquito beans w/ham hock $3.5
onion rings $5
crackling w/chile salt $3
2 eggs, toast or biscuit, bacon, sausage or ham & country potatoes
griddle cakes $6.5
3 griddle cakes w/butter & maple syrup
add blueberries, choc. chips, or mac & cheese
chicken fried pork chop $12.99
olsen family pork chop, 2 eggs, toast/biscuit, & potatoes
wild shrimp & grits $14
shrimp w/pan gravy, scallions, & bacon over buttery grits
big river granola $5
w/seasonal fruit & organic yogurt or milk
kitchen sink sandwich $6.95
open face sandwich w/fried chicken, griddled ham, fried egg, & sausage gravy
betsy's biscuits & gravy $5.5
cat head biscuits & sausage gravy
buttermilk waffle $6.5
w/butter & maple syrup
- Sides -
cat head biscuits $1
country fried potatoes $3
house sausage or applewood bacon $3
ham w/red eye gravy $5
1 pancake $2.5
1 egg $1
cheesy grits $3.5
There are also some specials on the board such as fried pies (blueberry & apricot, I think), the plum popsicle, an ice cream sandwich, some other stone fruit dessert.
Beverages written on the board include
shakes $4 - vanilla, chocolate, strawberry
malts $4 - vanilla, chocolate
floats $3 - root beer or cheer wine (they said it was cherry soda)
sweet tea $2
My breakfast report
Sonoma: Fremont Diner - Ham w/red-eye gravy, organic drip coffee, white grits, griddlecakes, cheerwine float, sweet tea and house-made fresh plum popsicles