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Great food around the Russian River

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On Friday afternoon, I met my friend at John Ash Front Room in Santa Rosa for happy hour. I've been meaning to post about this. There are wine, beer and drink specials at $4 each, Mondays through Fridays from 3:00 to 6:00, along with specials on bar snacks, including oysters for $1.50. The drink special last Friday was a dark and stormy, which was delicious and seemed festive. I had four oysters, beautifuly fresh, and an order of vegetable tempura, perfectly fried to a delicate crisp, not a bit oily. My friend had the tomato soup and sandwich special and a chicken flauta, which she loved. This happy hour is just so lovely, the room is warm and welcoming, the service friendly and efficient, and the prices unbelievable!

On Saturday, we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and get some work done in the yard. So, we wanted a quick easy lunch, and hubby wanted fries. We walked to Rio Bridge Cafe, in Monte Rio on Hwy 116 where the bridge meets the highway. We've eaten here several times since it opened in April. They were in the news a few months ago because Jerry Brown stopped by to eat and learned about the problems they are having getting a permit for the "Flea Market" behind the cafe (I think "flea market" is an unfortunate choice of descriptions to be juxtaposed with "cafe" but that's another story) and Gov. Brown took it on himself to make a phone call to the county supervisor whose jurisdiction the cafe is in, and encouraged him to make the permit happen. Anyhow, we've found the food to be solid but it hadn't moved me to post about it. Until now. I ordered the calamari and chips, and that was way up there with the best fried calamari I've ever had! The coating was so crisp and light, with wonderfully tender calamari! It was just amazingly perfect. The fries were also just right, crisp exterior, soft interior. My hubby got his favorite, the chorizo scramble, and they were willing to give him fries instead of home fries and toast. This place is really worth stopping in, especially for that calamari.

On Monday we wanted a leisurely lunch by the ocean, and drove up to Jenner to River's End. It was a glorious day and we were seated by a window looking over the river flowing into the ocean, a fabulous view. We shared the oysters, perfectly fresh and wonderful. I had the duck confit salad, which is a delicious combination of slightly wilted spinach, LOTS of duck, tiny lentils, dried fruit, and almonds. It's so good, the flavor of the duck with the lentils is a great combination. DH had the beet salad because he can never go there and not get it. It's beautiful to look at, a very good version of what has become an icon. I was still working on my salad, which is really plenty for a main dish especially at lunch, and he got a burger. It was perfectly cooked medium rare as ordered and featured really crispy onions which were delicious (I got two bites). It's served on a brioche roll, which I know some of you feel is too soft for a burger, but it tasted great and held up well. The burger came with fries. I tasted a few, and they were just as good as the ones at Rio Bridge Cafe.

I guess I had my share of fried food this weekend.

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  1. Rio Bridge Cafe is a new one to me and I'm always interested in good calamari. Will have to try it soon.
    20391 Highway 116 (at the intersection of Highway 116 and Church Street)
    http://www.mapquest.com/places/rio-br...

    John Ash & Co
    http://www.vintnersinn.com/dining.asp

    River's End
    http://ilovesunsets.com/

    1. So glad you liked River's End - we went there in August and the food was superb! Got a window table and when the sun came out, the view was simply gorgeous. Great place to eat, so much better than a disastrous dinner at Alexander's @Timber Cove Inn the previous night.