Reports: Barndiva, Cyrus, Downtown Bakery, Fremont Diner
I was up in northern Sonoma and the Anderson Valley this weekend to write and eat; here are a few of the places we visited...
First impressions: adored the thoughtful cocktail list and the bright, airy space. I ordered the cauliflower veloute and the seared halibut. Cauliflower veloute was served in a big enough portion to be a soup, which was different than I expected--still good, but, as a veloute is, so voluptuously rich you wanted to eat 30% less than you did (but that didn't stop me from eating the whole bowl). At the end of the weekend I think the best thing I ate was the crust on the halibut paired with a Fantome Saison that's price was worth it solely for the jokey "I ain't afraid of no ghost" cartoon spirit imprinted on the label. Have you tried that beer? It is remarkable.
It's the little things, no? For me, the highlight of Cyrus was the breads. So perhaps I'm a hick, but I was impressed when the lady came 'round with the display of six breads--and then introduced the warm breads separately. I picked a brioche. "What will you be having for your *second* bread?" she prompted, and that's when I knew Cyrus isn't messing around, bread-wise. For my second bread I picked warm olive swirl, for my third bread I picked brioche again because the bread assistant informed me that it was really the only bread for my foie gras jus (she was right), and for my fourth bread I picked my only regret, sourdough epi, which I disliked not because it was poorly made but because I guess I'm a miche girl, so that 97% crust : 3% crumb ratio doesn't appeal. Because of a tl;dr problem, I couldn't drink red wine, yet wine steward picked out a thoughtful mix of champagne, white wine and beer to match my five course menu. Menu highlights: ocean trout wrapped in smoked soba noodles and doused in an oolong broth; butterscotch "sundae" with popcorn tuile; quail egg with foie gras jus, caraway and rye, which, as the lady said, was great with brioche. Service was seamless and practiced, as I guess one should expect.
Downtown Bakery and Creamery
I've tried their pastries before both on previous trips to Healdsburg and at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, so early on Saturday morning I took a sharp left at the sign for familiar and ordered a sour cream blintz with blackberry topping. The texture of the blintz was nice, and the fruit topping was the right amount of tart-sweet to contrast the rich sour cream.
I guess the word is out? We arrived around 9 a.m. on Sunday and already had a line of about 10 people in front of us. Luckily it was sunny and vaguely warm, so we didn't have to hope for luck with the few seats inside. You order at a counter, grab a seat either inside (not many, divided between a few counter seats and some tables) or on the picnic tables outside, and wait for your name to be called. The menu is awesome, with lots of local products prepared with style and spirit. I adore Rancho Gordo's library of products, so I ordered the "Breakfast Beans" dish, which I think was Mother Stallard with a fried egg on top and a slice of buttered toast. Once I got up to the front of the line and saw the pile of fluffy biscuits which gave off just the slightest whiff of baking soda, I knew the toast was BS and ordered a biscuit with a side of butter (unnecessary) and jam (awesome + necessary). Amazing. Also ordered: hangtown fry, which I didn't taste, but looked great. In front of us in line was a couple who apparently live nearby because they were talking about what they ordered when they visited for breakfast each weekend and for dinner a couple times during the week. After I bit into my biscuit, which was the third best biscuit I've ever eaten (which is still very high on the list, considering my annual biscuit consumption) I wondered if there was such a thing as adult adoption and, if so, if the local couple would find me charming or useful enough to adopt me. I'll learn to darn socks.
We spent the rest of our time up around Boonville and Philo; I'll post those reviews to the California board.
1924 Yajome St, Napa, CA 94559
231 Center St, Healdsburg, CA 95448
2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA