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Apr 21, 2013 11:45 PM

Healdsburg Shed

Healdsburg Shed, a modern grange, opened its doors last Tuesday. I did a quick walk through on Friday afternoon. The airy, light-filled retail and food prep space features seating inside and out with a second floor gallery for events. The beautifully curated local sustainable food, drink and ingredients are simple and the highest quality. The shelves aren't full, and many items had no prices marked yet, so it's hard to assess value at this point.

The Fermentation Bar was ready for business with all its taps spoken for, offering wine, beer, kombucha, hard cider, and shrubs on draft, as shown on the menus below, as well as bottled stock.

At this stage, it's definitely a work in progress.

Healdsburg Shed
25 North St
Healdsburg, CA

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  1. Late breakfast last weekend crossed over to the daily lunch menu at the Shed, shown here,

    You order and pay at the counter, then the food is brought to your table indoors or outside. I still had an eye out for something breakfast-y in keeping with June’s dish of the month project: breakfast sandwich. For me, the open-faced sandwich of bitter greens with roasted cauliflower, bagna cauda, and fried duck egg for $13, plus the La Quercia prosciutto supplement adding $3. Depicted here in the overhead view, the assemblage fills a dinner plate.

    On the tall side too, as shown here in profile, this was definitely a fork-and-knife affair. Assertively bitter greens mellowed by char and smoke from the fire, a ripple of supple sweet and salty prosciutto and the custardy duck egg with a rich, fluid yolk nestled together on the magical M. H. Bread and Butter country loaf. Doused with garlicky bagna cauda, decorated with caramelized roasted florets of orange cauliflower, and then strewn with intensely fragrant Italian parsley, fried garlic chips were the crowning glory at the top of the delicious heap.

    The tender-in-the-middle grilled levain was the perfect sponge for soaking up every bit of juicy flavor on this plate. The perfectly cooked cauliflower, browned but not burnt and cooked for the sweet fullness of flavor, softened just enough and became irresistible. This was a marked contrast to the disappointing bitter and burnt yet still raw and hard cauliflower at Cotogna, where consulting chef, Seamus Guevara last worked. In fact, I gobbled up the cauliflower before reaching the last bite of the sandwich. So well-tuned to balance the contrasting textures and bitter:sweet proportions, the absence of these sweet notes made the last of the greens too bitter to finish on their own.

    Truly the best of Sonoma wine country cooking, this rustic and simple yet perfectly executed sandwich shows off fresh from the farm ingredients. Absolutely and unequivocally, this dish is recommended the next time it appears on the menu.

    The shelves have filled out since my visit during opening week. Here’s but half of the bread selection on display,
    and more about baker M. H. Bread and Butter in this thread,

    I noted the house-baked kouign amann in the breakfast pastry display at the espresso bar. Perhaps one of our KA-cognescenti can try it and tell us about it.

    In the Shed’s natural light-filled space, the line-up of fruit-vinegar shrub infusions glisten like precious jewels.

    I chose the blueberry shrub from the fermentation bar. On this warm afternoon, the cold and tart non-alcoholic drink was a refreshing sipper to enjoy outside and watch Healdsburg go by.

    For a final note, the pair of unisex restrooms toward the back exit share a public farmers sink. But there is another sink inside each and a copy of the current Farmers Almanac for reading material.

    1. Open for 4+ months now, the stock space is filling up and growing in diversity. I dropped in last weekend and was pleased to see some changes: most everything is marked with prices (sky high though they may be), bigger and more interesting selection of prepared foods in the "Larder", and staff that smiled and seemed more eager to answer questions. The enterprise still strikes me as too precious, but with more customers filling the aisles, it feels less like a museum and more like a retail space.

      Though I whine about the prices and affectation, I continue to be impressed by the quality of the food and drink. Perfectionists reside in this kitchen. The cappuccino made with a house blend roasted by Flying Goat was not only pretty but as smooth and syrupy rich as can be imagined.

      Or the extraordinary kouign amann, taken all the way to the edge of darkness for better flavor but not crossing the line to burnt, that oozes with more butter, more caramel, more layers, more flakey texture, more salt, more flavor, just more of everything, shown here in higher res.
      And upside down,

      And the occasional "bargain" presents itself. One of my dinner guests found a small envelope of shiso leaves for $2 to bring me. They're grown in full sun instead of shade, so not as tender, but very fragrant and flavorful.

      More photos

      1. Three of us had lunch there today, originally intending to buy picnic supplies but being too late and hungry for that. We shared a pizza with added chorizo and a pasta dish (I don't have a menu so that will have to do for descriptions), and a glass of a red wine on tap each. We all agreed that it was a very middle-of-the-road experience. The pizza was OK, nothing special, the pasta had very good and rich flavor but arrived in a casserole dish luke warm at best instead of hot. The glasses of red wine were way too cold for my taste. After commenting to our waiter about that, the very gracious wine manager came to the table and explained that the wine was kept and served at a cellar temperature of 58 degrees, and that he checked that before he came to our table. That may have been true, but it was way too cold for all three of us; it seemed like a good temperature for white wine. I may or may not try it again; since I'm not in Healdsburg very often, I may just go to other places next time.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

          Forgot to mention that the $10 wine pours were quite small (in the opinion of all three of us).

          1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

            Oh, too bad. I've seen a couple pizzas come out of the oven. They haven't looked that appealing to me, but a friend in town insists that I need to try one, as he feels the fermented rise of the dough/crust is special.

            Red wine serving temperature differs by grape variety/wine style. At home, I serve Pinot Noir at cellar temperature of 60 degrees, and my dinner guests almost always remark that the cooler temperature enhances the experience. Wines will warm up to room temperature. Looking at the photo of the wines on tap list that I took a few months ago, the two Syrah based wines I'd probably want a little warmer, but the Sangiovese and Pinot Noir I'd like at 60 degrees. Especially on a warm day or if the room is warm. Heavy white wines, such as oaked Chardonnay might be served at 58 to 60 degrees, but whites are usually chilled a bit more to 50 degrees or less.

            I haven't had a glass of wine there yet, as I balk at paying $10 for a wine on tap. I'll mention that I had the Preston G/S/M elsewhere as part of a tasting flight yesterday, and I don't recommend it.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Thanks for the report and opinion, Melanie, I just can't get excited about a place that charges $10 for tap short-pour wine (that's too cold for me) and food that isn't as good as it should be. They've had four months to get things right so I'll be taking a pass on this place. I miss Bovolo.

              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                I'd heard scuttlebutt last month that the GM had left. Looked for confirmation and found this piece with news that the opening chef is gone too. I've heard that there's been huge staff turnover because things have been so disorganized, and the list of jobs available looks like they need everything. I've also heard that prices are coming down, though sounds like not for wine.


                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  That report agrees with what a winery owner (who shall remain nameless) told us on Saturday. He said employees he knows who work there call the operation a [very bad name].

                  1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                    I'm just hoping that the genius who makes the kouign amann is still there.

          2. Stopped by the Shed yesterday with some friends. The seating in front is now split between picnic tables for self-serve items and cafe seating for table service. There's more seating inside and on the deck.

            Wanting just a little stimulation and not a lot of caffeine in late afternoon, I tried the new guajillo hot chocolate. This has a medium intensity of chocolate melted in Straus barista milk, but a hint of chili spice, and a savory sprinkle of salt. A good pick-me-up and soothing at the same time.

            A new executive chef is on board. I haven't had a chance to return for a meal yet. I did note the infiltration of Brooklyn to the shelves . . . cheeses from the East Coast curated by a Brooklyn cheeseshop and Salumeria Biellese salumi in the case.

            1. Stopped by to do some shopping on Saturday. Saw a bunch of unique / hard to find products including fresh-milled flour, Apple Farm cider syrup, and a bunch of Anson Mills grains. Kind of reminded me of The Pasta Shop. It'll be a regular stop any time I'm passing by.