Santa Rosa/Healdsburg: hoping for cassoulet or Dungeness crab
I will be heading that way next weekend and have a hankering for either cassoulet or Dungeness crab. Ideally both but obviously not at the same meal. Places to try appreciated. Thanks.
At last, another Bistro 29 fan! Thank you, thank you! I was beginning to think my spouse and I were the only ones on this board who had ever bothered to try this wonderful little bistro. The OP should note that this is Breton food, BTW. Chef Brian Anderson's hand with seasoning is on the gentle side, and Breton food is never, ever oversalted (it's traditionally held that the sea air embrues everything with enough salt so that cooks don't need to add a lot).
This is what I wrote about Anderson's cassoulet when I had it in March of this year:
"Bistro 29 put together an understated version that impressed me. The confit is well-rinsed, the ham is a high-quality thick slice of tenderloin, and the pork sausage is well-seasoned with Quatre Epices, the traditional paté spice blend of white pepper, coriander, ginger, clove, nutmeg (and sometimes cinnamon). Bistro 29 allows the meats to provide the salt for the beans. The strong seasoning of the sausage allows its spice blend to gently scent the cassoulet. Compared to most restaurant versions, this cassoulet is like a kiss compared to a slap. Some might find it almost too subtle for their tastes. I loved it, however. It was hot, comforting, and beautifully balanced."
The monkfish in Armoricaine sauce is amazing. Lovely fish, magnificent sauce (he used to serve it with foie gras as well, but alas, no longer).
Do not miss the chocolate fondant cake if it's on the menu. We took a friend here who is a chocoholic and he almost swooned in ecstasy over this dessert. My spouse adores the wheat crepe with orange-Grand Marnier butter. He adores Crepes Suzette but this was as close as Bistro 29 can get, not having a full liquor license.
If you like tea, Bistro 29 is one of only four restaurants that has made me a proper pot of tea; the others are Passionfish/Monterey, Slanted Door/SF, and Auberge du Soleil/Rutherford.
The best Dungeness crab I've had this year was from Spud Point Crab Shack in Bodega Bay. they have it live or cooked. It's just a shack wtih tables outside, so if the weather is bad, you could get cooked crab to go (they will clean it for you, it's good to tip them if they do) and find a dry place (your hotel room?) for a picnic. You didn't ask, but they also make the best clam chowder I've ever eaten.
re: Kathleen M
Spud Pt's clam chowder is pretty good although heavy on the dill. It's thickened, so if you're like me and prefer your clam chowder "loose", Sea Salt/Berkeley (which is going away on Dec 31st to turn into a new owner/new format called Eat) is the best for unthickened.
Best of all is up in Seattle, the Pike Place Chowder shop in the Market. They have won so many awards in Boston at the National Clam Chowder competition that the New Englanders CHANGED THE RULES to prevent them from winning four years straight!
I love the Dungeness crabcakes at French Garden, but they're in Sebastopool, which is out of your way. They use some preserved Meyer lemon and it's a perfect combination of flavors!