HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Report back on Healdsburg

We just returned from a 4 night trip to Healdsburg. Thanks to all from this board that helped with the planning, we had a great time! As a side note, we had fabulous weather. Here's a rundown on the eating and drinking...

Sunday... flew into Oakland and drove to Healdsburg (not much traffic in our direction, glad we were not trying to get into the city).

Lunch: Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar. It was fun, we had 6 small plates (burp.. 4 would have been plenty). Our favorites were the crab cake and the ceviche.

Tasting: Stephen and Walker. Wines were interesting, but I wasn't that excited about them. Can't say I'm a fan of the whole tasting room concept (I had no idea how many tasting rooms there were on the square).

Dinner: Barndiva. The food was quite good, I had the beet salad and the vegetarian plate of the day -- heirloom tomatoes, roasted vegetables, homemade pasta. DH had the pork tenderloin which was very nicely cooked. He had the better salad, shaved apples and fennel.

Monday:

Lunch: grabbed an early bite at Costeaux French bakery. I had a salad with smoked duck, DH had a turkey sandwich (real roast turkey, good bread). Not too fancy, but the food hit the spot.

Tasting: MacPhail... everything I love about a winery visit. Actually saw them making wine (including hand sorting grapes), meet the dogs, taste the grapes, hear their story. And found some outstanding wine that I had not had before.

Ramey... Place seemed deserted.. felt more like a warehouse than a winery. They have some nice wines (especially the chardonnay) and some ambitious expansion plans.

Dinner: Mateo's. Perfect evening out on the patio. We both had very interesting plates, I had beef cheeks with vegetables and corn tortillas, DH had a lamb (or was it pork?) enchiladas with mole sauce. The only dinner where the place was not absolutely packed.

Tuesday:

Lunch / Tasting: We did the Food and Wine Pairing at Arista. This lunch was our favorite meal of the trip. After a short tour of the grounds (including gathering eggs from the chickens and walking through the gardens the vegetables were grown in), we went to a separate dining room... just a large table and lots of windows up the hill from the tasting room). Lunch was 5 courses, each matched with a wine. The start was gazpacho and BLT skewer, followed by King Salmon over various pickled vegetables, followed by a Duck Mortadella sided with a Sheep's milk ricotta rolled in a thin slice of zucchini, followed by a confit of lamb and a farm egg with a Kohlrabi Puree. And last was a zucchini bread jelly roll .. paired with a Zinfandel (yes, a dry Zin). It was just genius. I need to give kudo's to the chef, Timothy Kaulfers. Not only did he cook everything, but also shared how he did some of it.

Dinner: Chalkboard. The food was good, a couple of the plates were excellent (the pork belly biscuits... and here I thought that I was over pork belly. There was also a mushroom dish that was excellent), Service was good. BUT... the room was loud. Not just noisy from people having fun, but uncomfortably loud from bad acoustics. And as confirmation (since sometimes I worry that we are becoming fuddy-duddy old people) a younger couple we met the next day at a tasting.. from Miami Beach, said it was really bad. Fortunately, they ate in the bar, where it was much better (so it you go, see if you can sit at the bar if you would like to talk).

Wednesday:

Lunch/tasting: Culinary Tour at Chalk Hill. Similar format to Arista, but a much bigger property, a much bigger group. Lunch started with a spicy Thai Soup with tiger shrimp, followed by a picture worthy Brandade stuffed pepper, then a glazed pork belly with a interesting slaw, and last was an apple galette. All very nice (and probably would have seemed nicer had it not followed Arista).

Tasting: Lambert Bridge. They were actually at the hotel for the evening wine and cheese hour. It was one of the wineries I had wanted to visit, but didn't (lightweights... can only do one or two wineries a day). We really liked their wines, and will definitively be on our list to visit next time.

Dinner: Scopa. Our favorite dinner of the trip. It was Winemakers Wednesday (in order to be on the wine list, you have to come pour your wines). The place was packed, noisy in a good way, server was great .. We had a couple of excellent salads and a fig and speck pizza. Desert was strawberries with aged balsamic. Heaven.

We stayed at Hotel Les Mars. They did a nice job of setting up our reservations (dinners and tastings). Breakfast was included with our room and was fresh fruit, house-made Greek yogurt, pastries, and coffee... perfect for us.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. Thanks for this report. I have an early evening reservation at Chalkboard coming up but am rethinking based on your report re: noise. Were you there at prime time? I've not been to Barndiva either so maybe that's a better bet.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BAnders

        We had 6:45 reservations on a Tues. It was not completely full when we started, but was by 7-7:15 or so. If I had to pick, I would choose Barndiva (note - they are closed Mon and Tue).

      2. Thanks for the report back!

        1. Thanks for the detailed feedback, firecooked. RE your dinner at Scopa, which winemaker was pouring that night? Nice to know about Wednesdays, we make sure to always have at least one meal their every time we visit.

          2 Replies
          1. re: PolarBear

            It was Joseph Jewell Wines, young guys. Micah Joseph Wirth served us our wine, but we didn't have a chance to chat. Nice wines. The Scopa web site has a list of the wine makers, although its due to be updated right now.. http://www.scopahealdsburg.com/winema...

            1. re: firecooked

              Thank you, this is yet another example of how visitors use the collective wisdom of the board then provide feedback that gives all of us new information and avenues for exploration.

              Cheers,

              Dave

          2. Thanks much for taking the time to report back. Interesting about the noise level at Chalkboard. The previous occupant, Cyrus, was as quiet as you'd expect from Michelin 2*. Wonder what happened in the remodel to change that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Wish I could do a before and after for you... What I can say is that there were no soft surfaces and the tables are marble. And we were in the rear space, against large windows out to the pool. And I wonder if the vaulted ceilings in the other rooms contributed to the echoing....

            2. Glad you liked Mateo's! One of my favorites in the Bay Area. Creative, accomplished chef, locally sourced highest quality ingredients. Don't know why it doesn't get more mention. Not just another Mexican restaurant, in fact not really a Mexican Restuarant, though Mateo is from Merida and there are Mexican dishes and influences. http://www.mateoscocinalatina.com/home/