401 South A Street
Santa Rosa CA 95401
Neighborhood: in the SOFA (South of A) District
Cuisine: “New American”
Cost: $$ ($25 and less – Moderately priced)
Tue-Fri 8 am – 10 pm
Sat-Sun 9 am – 10 pm
Handicap accessible: Yes
Vegetarian options: Yes
Kid friendly: We were there for dinner and saw a high chair.
Liquor served: Beer & Wine Only
Wine List: Impressive variety moderately priced
Outdoor seating: No
Reservations: Yes taken for parties of 6 or more.
This place was recommended by our friend Steve, who’s a local known as a “foodie” and an experienced Sommerlier. He claims this is his ultimate favorite “go to” and as a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, who works at a Napa winery and also specializes in all aspects of wine service, we took his suggestion! During a recent visit to Sonoma, we decided to try it on an early Friday night for dinner. The interior was comfortable in the rehabbed space that once held a small Italian family grocery store. It has been transformed into a clean inviting gathering place with the construction completed in July of 2012. The space included many tables and a “big ass” wrap-around redwood bar comfortably seating a variety of casually dressed individuals sipping on a variety of beers and wine on tap. The floors were concrete and the smooth wood tables were spaced adequately for some private conversation, but close enough for me to spy on the food choices that were delivered to those who sat near.
Our server Vanessa was friendly with an outgoing personality and very knowledgeable of the menu items. We felt the “wicked” ambiance I had read about, but mostly appreciated the small team who really worked well together and during our dinner service; at least four of the five servers on the floor stopped by to either deliver food, fill our water glasses, check on food quality or clear the used dishes.
From what we gathered, the menu changes often and is broken into a series of sections: Bites ($2-$4) and they are just that; Charcuterie and Cheese Plates ($6-$16); Veggies ($5-$7); Small Plates ($7-$14) and Large Plates ($14-16). Everything we sampled, as well as observed being delivered to our neighbors table included an outstanding variety of flavors and spice. The color and textures of each dish were outstanding!
We started off with:
It was a hot, hot day with temperatures reading 113 degrees on our exterior thermometer of the rental car as we crossed the hill from Napa to Sonoma, so Bill wanted to start with a Rose’. He chose a local Grenache, 2012; Unti from Dry Creek Valley. We noticed there were eight wines on tap, and ours was delivered to the table in a “cool” looking 500ml beaker.
We asked Vanessa what were a few of her favorite bites and decided to share the unique sounding Kimchi & Bacon Deviled Egg ($3)
Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables – usually Napa cabbage, but also daikon radish, cucumber, scallions often mixed with garlic, ginger, onions, sometimes dried shrimp and hot peppers or paste. It is spicy and pungent, like a sauerkraut. Mixed with the rich egg yolk and taste of bacon served as a bite, it left us wishing we had another!
Though we try not to indulge on “Fries” to often, we couldn’t resist the temptation of the Kennebec Fries with SOFA Sauce. ($6)
The fries came to the table looking beautifully golden brown served piping hot! They were a shoestring type with crisp outsides and soft inners. They were laced with just the right amount of sea salt, fried fresh rosemary and sage leaves.
Yes, I did have to ask what what the SOFA sauce was… it’s a rich and tangy dipping sauce that included a variety of herbs such as Rosemary & Sage. I think we enjoyed picking out the crispy, crunchy fried herbs as much as eating the fries.
We each ordered the Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut ($25)
This was a perfectly prepared fish. It was served with roasted summer squash (including the attractive bloom), favas, white beans, arugula-basil pesto and toasted almonds. The flavors of the stew reminded us of a split pea soup and melted in your mouth. The squashed cooked perfectly al dente and the larger beans added just enough texture to keep you interested in going back for more.
The fish was cooked perfectly with a crisp outside and perfect firmness to the flaky white center. It was topped with a brilliantly fresh pesto that popped with flavor and the almonds worked with the consistency.
We split a Mixed Berry Crisp ($8)
We opted to skip the fresh cream offered and chose a la mode instead for an additional ($1.50). The fresh, local berries included raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Although it was splendid, the crisp was a bit scarce and hard to find on the top. The deliciousness of the berries and creamy ice cream melting together made up for it’s lack of crunch.
The Rose’ paired perfectly with the entire meal.
Cheers & Bon appetit!