It just makes sense that many Sonoma County chefs embrace French traditions: French cooking is all about exquisite ingredients, offering a true sense of place on the plate. Whatever is freshest of the season, plucked from the best ranches, farms and gardens — that is what fills the chef’s larder in both France and Sonoma County.
A lovely taste of France is alive and well in Wine Country, with this gem from chef Brian and his wife Françoise Anderson. Casual and welcoming with rich red walls, dark wood trim, and bright white tablecloths, it’s a wonderful place to relax over fine wine and frog legs. Lacy buckwheat crepes are a specialty, served savory or sweet, and cassoulet is a classic charmer of duck leg confit stewed with garlic flageolet beans, apple-wood smoked slab bacon, and Toulouse sausage.
620 5th St., Santa Rosa, 707-546-2929
Chloe’s French Café, Santa Rosa
You’d never guess this was here, tucked in the Landmark Executive Center, but the locals are certainly in on the secret: It’s always packed at breakfast and lunch. The place is simple — cafeteria ambience really – but brothers Alain and Marc Pisan make their brasserie favorites from scratch, down to the buttery croissants, éclairs, tarts, and cakes.
Bistro temptations include crepe du jour, quiche, a Nicoise sandwich, a gooey hot Croque Monsieur draped in Béchamel, and a variety of French wines to round out the Sonoma County grape labels.
3883 Airway Drive, Suite 145, Santa Rosa, 707-528-3095
K&L Bistro, Sebastopol
Recently renovated and expanded, this charming brasserie is better than ever.
Double the space means double the delicious, since chef-owners Karen and Lucas Martin added a new full bar, raw bar, lounge, and mesquite wood-fire grill.
But the food hasn’t changed all that much, since what could be better than long-time specialties such as house made charcuterie of warm rabbit rilletes; whole branzino dressed simply in olive oil and fleur de sel; PEI mussels mariniere with fries and aioli; and steak frites?
119 South Main St., Sebastopol, 707-823-6614
Walter Hansel Wine and Bistro, Santa Rosa
The setting is old-style roadhouse on a country lane; the eatery is a project of Stephen Hansel, who also owns the nearby Walter Hansel Winery and Hansel Family Vineyards. French-born chef Philippe Colasse infuses a true taste of Europe in this ambitious menu, such as beef cheek bourguignon with button mushrooms, lardoons, sweet carrots, and buttered noodles, and a Floating Island dessert of poached meringue, caramel, crème brulee, crystallized ginger, and toasted almonds. The wine list, naturally, features plenty of Hansel labels, as well as French selections.
3535 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa, 707-546-6462