Hansel Wine Bar & Bistro Brings a Taste of France to Santa Rosa
The pretty little red house-turned-restaurant has been given a complete refurbishment, and is now open for business as Walter Hansel Wine Bar & Bistro.
If the Hansel name sounds familiar, then ding-ding-ding, you’re right; it refers to the Walter Hansel Winery and Vineyard nearby, as well as the Hansel Auto Group family.
Apparently, owner Stephen Hansel was hungry for some nice food to go along with his wine, and so he put together his French bistro concept, and hired a French chef, Philippe Colasse.
Colasse previously was sous chef at Chalk Hill Winery in Healdsburg, though his roots are purely French. Raised in his family’s hotel and restaurant business near the city of Orleans, France, he later worked with Michelin-star chefs in Europe and Las Vegas. Just a few names include Georges Blanc, Didier Clement, Gerard Passedat, Jean-Michel Lorain, Thomas Keller, and Joel Robuchon.
To get things started, Stephen Hansel might suggest some of his family wines, with a snack like poached oyster in French Echiré butter, or Liberty Duck rillettes with confit duck leg, baguette, cornichons and Dijon mustard.
Yet there are also French wines, to partner with Gallic classics like beef cheek bourguignon with button mushrooms, lardoons, sweet carrots and buttered noodle ($24.50).
The menu will change with the seasons, though we hope to see the Floating Island dessert as a permanent fixture — the poached meringue, caramel, crème brulee, crystallized ginger and toasted almonds is a clever twist on traditional.
Despite the elegant menu, the mood is Wine Country, meaning relaxed and friendly. Still, any guests wanting white-glove treatment likely will feel right at home. During his Las Vegas career and later in Beverly Hills, Colasse was a high-end private chef who worked with such stars as Michael Jackson, Christopher Lambert, Celine Dion, Bette Midler, Judith Sheindlin (Judge Judy), Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé.
Details: Walter Hansel Wine Bar & Bistro, 3535 Guerneville Rd., Santa Rosa, 707-546-6462, Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 5:30 to 10 p.m.