403 Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
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
Sunday through Thursday and Sunday 11:30AM – 9:30PM
Friday and Saturday 11:30AM – 10PM
Handicap accessible: Yes
Vegetarian options: Yes
Kid friendly: No
Liquor served: Full bar
Wine List: Decent options
Outdoor seating: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Itty Bitty” Plates: ROASTED BEET SALAD, GOAT CHEESE MOUSSE, SPICED PECANS, PETITE BASIL, $9.50
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
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
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!:
…which I later learned is the Large, $84! YIKES!
We also split GRILLED ASPARAGUS, $9.50
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.
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: