Seared in Petaluma
- CyndiN Apr 11, 2014 10:05 AM
Wondering if anyone has tried this new place. There's an Amazon Local coupon for it and, since I live in Petaluma, I checked out the website. It actually looks pretty good based on that. I think this may be the old (several years ago) Goodwill building (it's on the SE corner of Petaluma Blvd and East Washington, on the Pet Blvd end).
Seared Steak and Seafood
170 Petaluma Blvd. No. Petaluma, CA 94952
Hi Cyndi, I live in Petaluma too! I just googled the address, and it came up as the Wickersham building, right next to the old Goodwill (the street view was shot just after the fire, as the former Goodwill building was all boarded up). It's the space where Graziano's used to be.
Menu looks good. I wish we had a bigger "going out to dinner" budget...
It's actually very good and exceeded all of my expectations based on my limited sampling of the menu so far.
Very good cocktails, great burger (Marin Sun Farms meat). Salads have been good as well.
Have not tried the steaks yet other than a bite of the surf and turf which was scallops and filet. Scallops were very good, filet did not stand out but was fine.
Seared participated in the California Cheese Festival held at the Sheraton Petaluma in March. I have yet to type up my summary notes, but we liked the nibble they made:
"Seared: Served neatly on a spoon with a dollop of fondue underneath, a perfect ball of pea and ham arancini surprised us. We've found almost all arancini to be grossly underseasoned prior to this. To get through the starch and cheese requires a hefty dose of saltiness, and these breadcrumbed balls did the job nicely without going overboard on the sodium. We were impressed, and Seared/Petaluma will go on our list of "try this place" restaurants for Sonoma Cty."
Keep in mind we are normally low-salt people; but starches like rice, polenta and pasta do demand a more generous salt-shaking. OTOH, deep-fried food tends to accentuate salting. Seared did a good job balancing the sodium - enough to bring the ingredients to life without overdoing it.
With our daughter out of town, my husband and I decided to go to Seared last night. There is parking in the back, on Water, with an entrance there but there are a lot of stairs and zero signage once you're inside (we ended up in the wrong place at first). The front entrance does not have stairs. The bathrooms are not disabled accessible; they might be to wheelchairs but they had so much air freshener I had to hold my breath to walk by them quickly with the doors shut.
We made the mistake of taking the seating they offered us, which was in what they call the lounge. It's a few tables facing the bar and a big screen TV that had a baseball game on. Lest you think you can avoid it, if your back is the TV, you're facing a mirror, so you have the TV in your sights anyway. On the opposite side of the half-height mirror wall are several tables and no TV.
The place is quite dark. I had trouble seeing my food and the menu. There are paraffin candles on every table and we asked for ours to be removed; it barely cast any light anyway. Our server was nice enough but so very slow. The food came quickly but when we were ordering he left to ask the kitchen some questions about dairy and we sat there for about 10 mins before I got up to find him. When we paid, we put the credit card out 5 seconds after he left the check, but he was already gone and it took another 5 mins to catch his attention (it was not that crowded and he was talking with other staff both times).
The meal didn't come with bread or other starters. The water they served tasted like it came straight from the tap (chlorine/etc). My husband ordered a Manhattan, which he'd never had before, and said it was fantastic. I can't drink but it smelled amazing. In a pretty and chilled glass with a stick of cherries.
It very much is a place oriented to meat. There are only 5 seafood entrees and one was paired with steak and 2 others had pork. I should have photographed the menu; the one on the website is a bit different.
My husband had the Pacific Halibut ($23; Furikake Crusted, Red Wine-Ginger Broth, Forbidden Black Rice, Papaya Salad). He thought it was great. It was dairy-free so I tasted it, but found it just okay.
I was having a lot of trouble finding an entree I could eat (that wouldn't be just plain fish and vegetables). The waiter kept encouraging me to tell him my allergies and let the chef make something for me. I said sure and then the server said I didn't give him enough direction. At that point he went to talk to the chef and when he returned the only information he had was that the aioli was dairy-free.
I decided it was easier to avoid the entrees and to just have an appetizer and a salad. I got the Apple A Day salad minus the bacon (it was already dairy-free) ($9; Bloomsdale Spinach, Heirloom Apples, Candied Bacon, 5-Minute Egg, Roasted Pistachios, Pickled Shallot, Mustard Vinaigrette). It was very good and sized like a medium side salad.
I also had the Monterey Bay Calamari ($12; Crispy 5 – Spice Dusted, Sweet Chili Garlic Aioli, Fresno Chilies, Sesame Seeds, Lime). This was good, done well, though not anything very special. It was already dairy-free.
I didn't bother asking about desserts as I assumed they'd all have dairy as central components. We took a walk and went into La La's creamery hoping for the coconut milk dairy-free ice cream we saw posted on Chow. Unfortunately, it's seasonal (coconuts have a season?) and they didn't have it. They normally have a berry sorbet that is dairy-free but they were out.
We hadn't walked around the river in ages and were pleased to see the lovely long path and the theater district open and doing well for a weekday evening. We just missed the farmer's market though (but got to say hello to one of our favorite vendors as he was leaving).
Overall, we liked Seared. They're still working out some new-restaurant issues and hopefully that will improve the ambiance. We chatted with one of the partners who told us they're planning to do something to the very high ceilings to reduce the noise level (which wasn't terrible, though it was noticeable). I didn't ask about the lighting but hopefully they'll add some at the same time. He told us about that odd structure near the front door. It's a large walk-in meat cooler. One of the other partners installed it with the idea that customers would "sip vodka in fur coats." It should be gone soon and there will be lovely windowside tables in its place.
The food itself is quite good and cooked very well. The menu choices aren't ones I'd make (even if I ate bacon or dairy, I wouldn't feel the need to add it to everything) but they are ones a lot of customers like. I certainly can see going back.