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Restaurant recs for Healdsburg or Guerneville area?

Scrambling to make some last-minute honeymoon plans after an injury threw a wrench in our West Marin adventure, and considering heading up to the Healdsburg area for a day or two instead. We're hunting for a couple of tasty restaurants in the area, one for dinner and one for lunch.

Obviously there's Cyrus and Farmhouse Inn, although in both cases we didn't find the current menus super compelling given the cost (but are open to being convinced otherwise!) I've also read good things about Boon Eat + Drink in Guerneville and Mirepoix in Windsor. Are there others we should be considering? Anyone have recent experiences with any of these? (I know there are some older threads on them, which is partly how I found them.)

Currently the other food spots on the agenda for the three-day trip include:
- Bear Republic in Healdsburg (though possibly only for beer)
- Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station for dinner
- The Marshall Store in Marshall for lunch
- Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma on the way home for beer

We're open to more costly places if the meals are top-notch, and just as happy to have casual meals. Our only real goal is to find spots that are unique to the North Bay. Thanks for any thoughts!

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  1. I'd recommend Zazu in Santa Rosa for Saturday or Sunday brunch. Strongly second your plan to go to Marshall Store for lunch (oysters rockefeller, and bring your own wine or buy it there), and Lagunitas Brewing Company is great, nice place to sit outdoors and music on the weekend afternoons- much nicer setting in my opinion than Bear Republic, though I slightly prefer the beer at Bear Republic. Also, for morning pastry/coffee (before full brunch, of course) you could get sticky buns at the Downtown Bakery on the square in healdsburg.

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    Marshall Store
    19225 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 94940

    Zazu Restaurant
    3535 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

    Bear Republic Brewing Co
    345 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448

    Lagunitas Brewing Co
    1280 N Mcdowell Blvd, Petaluma, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: balabanian

      Oops, should have specified---we'll be there Monday through Wednesday, so we're at the whim of restaurant hours for spots that are closed Mon/Tue or only open for dinner during the week. Most of the Russian River spots seem to be open on Mondays, fortunately; we're staying Tues night in Point Reyes so that we can hit the Marshall Store when it's open Wednesday---happily Stellina added Tuesday dinner just in the nick of time!---so looking mainly for Monday/Tues lunch and Monday dinner. (Not sure yet where we're staying Monday night, so we'll choose that based on what it seems like we might be doing those two days.)

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      Marshall Store
      19225 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 94940

      1. re: artemis78

        Good article below on Osteria Stellina. Made me want to go. The bounty of local foods available to Christian Caiazzo is striking.

        Article below says open Wednesday through Monday, but website says, "Monday-Friday 11:30-2:30 lunch / 5-9 dinner. Saturday & Sunday 10-2:30 brunch / 5-9 dinner."

        Check out the interesting menu at http://osteriastellina.com/

        "Osteria Stellina puts emphasis on 'local''
        http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7142...

        Osteria Stellina
        11285 Highway 1
        Point Reyes Station
        (415) 663-9988
        osteriastellina.com

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        Osteria Stellina
        11285 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station, CA

        1. re: maria lorraine

          By the way, the website hours are correct---they added Tuesday hours this week (literally between when I made our reservation last week for a Monday and when I revisited it this morning!)

      2. re: balabanian

        (Ooh, but I see that Zazu has a farm supper on Monday nights...maybe that would be a nice option?)

      3. In Guerneville, you should definitely try Cafe Les Jumelles, on Hwy 116. It's basically a coffee shop owned and run by a chef. It's very casual and simple. The basics are all there for breakfast, lunch or dinner: the omelets, burgers, salads, sandwiches, wraps, etc. but made with top notch ingredients and usually with a special touch. On weekends they serve brunch specials including several types of benedicts. All the salad dressings, the bread, condiments (such as marinated onions and tapenade) and the hollandaise are house-made. At breakfast, I think the corned beef hash is the best I've ever had. At lunch, the burgers are amazing and cooked exactly as ordered every time. The salads are SOOO fresh and flavorful. At dinner it's a little less casual. I still dream about a red wine braised chicken over crispy potato pancakes that I had there for dinner once. They serve beer and wine, with a pretty good, albeit limited, wine list. If you eat outdoors on the balcony, you'll enjoy a gorgeous view of the Russian River. It's not fast food, though, don't come when you are in a hurry.

        For a special dinner, you might consider Applewood Inn in Guerneville. I had a duck breast there that was just perfect, with super crispy skin and tender juicy meat. I'm pretty sure that you would be pleased at Farmhouse Inn, I've eaten there several times and never found anything there less than stellar, even if the menu description wasn't compelling. I haven't eaten at Cyrus yet, but people sure seem to love them.

        I've eaten at Bear Republic several times, and always found the food quite good in a brew pub sort of way. In Healdsburg, I really like Ravenous. The food is creative and the service is suberb. There's alwasy controversy about taquerias, but I like Taqueria El Sombrero, and especially recommend the chilis rellenos (although this is not my favorite taqueria in the area - I'm trying to stick to Healdsburg and Guerneville). For a snack or a simple breakfast, I also really like Downtown Bakery and Creamery. I'm kind of ashamed to say that I've never tried the ice cream, because the pastries are so good. They do a vanilla cupcake with butterscotch frosting - very simple and perfectly delicious.

        Please post after your trip and let us know where you went and how you liked it.

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        Farmhouse Inn
        7871 River Rd, Forestville, CA 95436

        Applewood Inn & Restaurant
        13555 HWY 116, Guerneville, CA 95446

          1. Thanks all---will check these out! Sadly Applewood is closed on Monday (someone else had suggested them too---we'll have to try them another trip). We love taquerias, but would only want to go that route if the ones up north are significantly better than what we have in Oakland and San Francisco...thoughts on that?

            1 Reply
            1. re: artemis78

              You've got taquerias in Oakland that are just as good as Taqueria El Sombrero. But if youare stopping in Petaluma on the way home for beer, you might want to check out Lolita's, on Lakeville Highway. It's a taqueria in a Latin market, and it's awesome! The mole is to die for!

            2. Given that it's your honeymoon, I would not skip Cyrus. Their menu doesn't read as well as it tastes, and the overall experience is just wonderful. I hear great things about Farmhouse but have not been, but I do think you should pick one of the two but maybe not do both.

              Unique to North Bay because of the setting and beer, but not necessarily food: Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville. I like going when we stay in Guerneville because how many bars/restaurants have a huge deck overlooking the river? People can literally swim or kayak up to the restaurant and walk up to eat. The vibe from all the customers and servers is just supremely laid back, the beer is local (and good), and the food is solid takes on bar classics. The smoked ribs and fish n' chips are favorites the times we've gone. I wouldn't recommend going way out of your way for this, but if you happen to find yourself close by, stop in for lunch or an afternoon drink.

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              Stumptown Brewery
              15045 River Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pei

                Thanks---in the end, I did make a reservation at Farmhouse (mostly because the timing worked out nicely---given how last minute this is, we couldn't get much at Cyrus until very late in the evening). So I'll report back. We may also try to squeeze in a light lunch at Boon Eat + Drink if we get up there early enough in the day....unfortunately Stumptown is closed on both Mondays and Tuesdays, so we'll miss them completely. (Note to self: Mid-week adventures are much easier on Wed/Thur than Mon/Tues!)

              2. Here's my post from last week on brunch at Boon Eat + Drink.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/714333

                1. Don't feel bad about not getting a reservation at Cyrus. It is more about service than food.
                  Great service, mind you, but no wow factor to the food.

                  We were much more impressed with the food at Madrona Manor. Just our two cents...

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                  Madrona Manor
                  1001 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                  1. Thanks for all of these recommendations---in the end we went with Farmhouse Inn for our fancy dinner, although I'm somewhat disappointed to say we are not converts. The meal was good---most dishes were strong, with some interesting flavor combinations, and the service was very good---but there were a couple of weak links (most notably the dessert, an ice cream). The dishes we enjoyed---squash blossoms stuffed with Dungeness crab and a duck entree especially---were great, but didn't blow us away, which we were expecting with entree prices approaching $50. On balance we have had comparable or better meal-service combos at East Bay spots like Commis and Camino for a fraction of the cost (or at Chez Panisse for the same price). We did go mid-week, so it's possible we just hit them on an off night or chose poorly...but still, I don't think we'll be back. At that price point, I generally go in with an expectation that there are no poor choices. :)

                    Happily, we did have terrific experiences at the Marshall Store (tasty chowder and fish tacos) and Osteria Stellina. (We thought Stellina was excellent---clearly a much more casual spot than Farmhouse, but the slow-cooked pork osso bucco was one of the best dishes we've had in some time, and it was probably the favorite meal of the trip. The zucchini-arugula salad with a lemon-chili dressing was phenomenal; I enjoyed the oyster pizza, though it was not up my husband's alley, so I think if we go back we'll try one of their others....great crisp, bubbly crust, though. Only weak spot was dessert, though again, we may just have chosen poorly. We did find both the vibe and the menu/food similar to spots like Pizzaiolo and Marzano in Oakland, except with a stronger seafood focus.)

                    We also lucked out and Stumptown Brewery was open (though their website lists them as closed on Mondays) so we stopped there, as well as at Bear Republic in Healdsburg, Lagunitas in Petaluma, and Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa---not all in one day, of course! Russian River's tasting blew the other three out of the water (as did their beers, which run a wide gamut and include several intriguing sours).

                    We had a fun trip overall, and definitely plan to go adventuring that direction again in the future, so I'll keep this list handy for some alternatives next time we're up there---thanks!

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                    Marshall Store
                    19225 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 94940

                    Stumptown Brewery
                    15045 River Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446

                    Farmhouse Inn
                    7871 River Rd, Forestville, CA 95436

                    Russian River Brewing Co.
                    725 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

                    Bear Republic Brewing Co
                    345 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                    Lagunitas Brewing Co
                    1280 N Mcdowell Blvd, Petaluma, CA

                    Osteria Stellina
                    11285 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station, CA