Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar, Healdsburg, CA

1fork

IMG_7126

403 Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
707-433-9191
www.willisseafood.net

Neighborhood: downtown Healdsburg, CA
Cuisine: Seafood, Bars, Tapas/Small Plates
Cost: $$$ = $50 and less, and more! Higher priced
One Forks = We would probably not eat here again, because the food is hit and miss

Hours:
Sunday through Thursday and Sunday 11:30AM – 9:30PM
Friday and Saturday 11:30AM – 10PM

SPECIAL FEATURES:
Handicap accessible: Yes
Parking: Street
Vegetarian options: Yes
Kid friendly: No
Liquor served: Full bar
Wine List: Decent options
Outdoor seating: Yes
Reservations: Yes

Unique:  Trendy, but not really unique.  Located just north of the town square in downtown Healdsburg, the East Coast and South America meet Wine Country at Willi’s Sea­food & Raw Bar. “The inviting vibrant decor and an extensive list of small plates combine with the eclectic seasonal cocktail menu and wide-ranging wine list to make visitors feel right at home.”  They claim the plates are designed for sharing, the menu features items ranging from New England Style “Rolls” and Latin-inspired skewers to ceviches and tar­tares. The chef’s raw bar features an ever-changing selection of fresh seafood, including at least eight varieties of fresh oysters.

eat oysters love longer menu image on wall

The ambiance is different.  It looks upscale when you first walk in, but once you turn the corner to the bar that you have to walk past to be seated, it’s loud and jam packed with rowdy patrons.

bar out night

The overall problem with this place is that although some of the food is good, the major concussions is that they are out of control expensive for the portion size.  It was good, but not “that” good.  The portions are listed as “small plates”, but in reality should read as “mini” plates.  We’ve walked by this place many a visits after glancing at the menu, but decided to give it a try because it was recommended by a local.  We understand what “tapas” are, but the food choices that we had were nothing spectacular.  Perhaps we just ordered the wrong items?  Probably not as our tab was $125.06 before gratuites and we left hungry.  There is nothing worse, but it’s not the servers fault… I think her name was Sequoia and she was a decent help.  It is the managements pricing and the kitchens responsibility for getting the food out slow.

HealdsburgSquare-300x225 door

The outdoor eating areas in this town are always wonderful during warmer weather.  They had a lot of tables, but it was cool outside, so we chose to eat in; who doesn’t like to people watch folks meandering down Healdsburg Square?

Complementary: Notta!  But if you’re thinking about dining here, I would highly recommend the WARM SOURDOUGH BREAD WITH GARLIC PARSLEY BUTTER, $5 that I saw on the table next to us.  It’s the cheapest thing on the menu and actually looked like it would fill one up!  The DEAN’S SALT & PEPPER BABY BACK RIBLETS, $11  Also looked good.

sour dough bread with garlic butter

We had heard that the “Lemon Drop” Martini’s were the best, $11… It was just OK.  Bill had two glasses of Chardonnay, JORDAN Russian River Valley 2012 Delicate apple, citrus, nutmeg, honey & almond balanced with vibrant acidity. Size 5 oz $13.25 each.  An excellent wine, but a little steep per ounce, considering you can easily find the entire 25 oz bottle for around $30.

IMG_7128

“Itty Bitty” Plates: ROASTED BEET SALAD, GOAT CHEESE MOUSSE, SPICED PECANS, PETITE BASIL, $9.50

beat salad

This was actually a great start!  The beets were roasted perfectly and it was enough to share even though we each wished we had ordered our own in hind site of what was yet to come.

FLASH FRIED FRESH CALAMARI, ORANGE CHILI GREMOLATA, $9.50

calamari 4

We typically share starters and that wasn’t a bad price really.  The calamari was pretty good, but too sweet for Bill’s taste.  Next to the beet salad, it was probably the best thing we ate during the entire meal.  Although the portion was pretty small there was no tough or rubbery texture that is so often the problem elsewhere.

We had spotted the CHILLED HALF MAINE LOBSTER, $17 – and the “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” began once we received our GRANDE PLATTERS OF ASSORTED SHELLFISH & CRUSTACEANS, Size Small, $24

IMG_7130

I thought it was good, but not worth $24.  I’m never a fan of paying $2.25 – $3.25 per tiny swallow of oysters and/or clams.  Bill’s expression said it all… He hates oysters and was a good sport to try only one clam; so he got the majority of the shrimp by default… I didn’t think he would see the humor in me snapping a photo of his frustration when the above platter arrived – since we both imagined we might get something more like this!:

combo seafood platter

…which I later learned is the Large, $84! YIKES!

We also split GRILLED ASPARAGUS, $9.50

grilled asparagus

This image is courtesy of someone else who reviewed Willi’s on Yelp.  We were so hungry by the time ours arrived, we both scarfed the couple of pieces in so fast we forgot to take a photo!  Don’t get me wrong; it was good.  But it was the last item we had ordered to share for dinner and we looked at each other like “seriously”?  How can these couple of pieces of greens be the same price as some of the other dishes?  As another reviewer put it “They are out of control prices for the portion size”!

So… we ordered a WARM MAINE LOBSTER WITH GARLIC BUTTER & FENNEL, $14 to share that Bill had had his eye on.

IMG_7134

It was just OK.  A) it wasn’t warm.  B) it was skimpy.  C) it lacked moisture and flavor.  On a positive note, it was bread.

Entree: We both wished we had one coming….  

But we didn’t.  These were a couple of the other items we considered and wished maybe that we had:

DUNGENESS CRAB CAKE, ALL MEAT / NO FILLER!, $14
crab cake
The reason we didn’t?  Look at the size of it.  There is almost more lemon than crab and the table next to us was pissed off when one came for a table of four… Yes, they ordered more and I did overhear that it tasted good, but WAY TOO SMALL!
“MELTED CHEESE” WITH CHORIZO, CILANTRO PESTO & NOT HOUSE MADE FRITOS, $9.50
melted heese and chorizo dip
Because had we seen it on any other persons table, we would have.  It also looks to be more filling than the asparagus for the same stinking price!  It sounded good, but were trying to choose “healthy”.  To heck with that at the next tapas place!  Reviews were all good and it sure looks good!  
WILLI’S FRENCH FRIES, LAURA CHENEL GOAT CHEESE RANCH, $9.50. Or the DEEP FRIED CLAM CHOWDER, $11
french fries and goat cheese ranch deep fried clam chowder
Why not?  I repeat: They sounded good, but were trying to choose “healthy”.  To heck with that at the next tapas place!  Reviews were all good and they sure look good!  Plus I’m getting hungry recalling how much money we spent and had to leave hungry.
  
Dessert:  We should have! 
I am pretty confident that there is next to no chance we’ll be back to try those other items.  There are just too many other options in wine country that are fantastic and worth the investment.  In our eyes, Willi’s isn’t!
Bon appetit!

~Chris

Related

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.