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Revival Restaurant at Applewood Inn in Guerneville

Guerneville is increasingly known for its fine dining, and now, the tiny Wine Country town has another top-notch restaurant destination to embrace: Revival.

Aptly named, the eatery is the new incarnation of a space that for many years was the Restaurant at Applewood Inn. This past December, the Restaurant closed, and owner Carlos Pippa announced a new (secret at the time) plan for the spot he took over when he bought the property six years ago.

Now, the hotel operates under a new hospitality management company, and local celebrity chef Crista Luedtke has come on as restaurant consultant, bringing to life her vision of a modern farmhouse with nods to the building’s original roots as a mission-style structure built in 1922.

“The restaurant space was overdue for a cosmetic makeover,” Luedtke said of the spot she debuted in July. “Revival means ‘an improvement in the condition or strength of something,’ because Applewood is a real gem, a sophisticated hotel property with so much potential with its gardens, the orchard, and its outdoor spaces.”

The look is completely different now, from the curved, hammered metal bar at the entry, to the wood floors, bare wood tables, white walls and wagon wheel chandeliers that brighten what used to be a dark, closed-in ambience. The wonderful stone fireplace remains front and center, and dinner service has been extended to the balcony patio overlooking the fountain garden.

As is the popular trend, the menu is brief, with abbreviated descriptions. One appetizer, for example, reads simply: “Liberty Duck liver mousse, MH bread, green strawberries, shiga turnips.” But just trust the chef, who is Ben Spiegel, formerly of Skal in New York City and The Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Washington.

“I want familiar yet unexpected dishes, elevating them to something playful and delicious,” Luedtke said.  “I love food that explores temperatures and textures and showcases ingredients in new ways.”  

That means seasonal, local ingredients paired in unusual ways, such as a plate of Bay area anchovies decorated with basil, unripe plum and grebiche ($13), or summer squash with makrut lime, pistachio and green grapes ($9).

Local halibut crudo is decorated with meunière and roasted bones ($15), while burrata is paired with stone fruit, but also celery and buckwheat ($14). Five Dot Ranch flat iron

steak is the most mainstream option, but still compelling, paired with spigarello (leafy greens that taste like broccoli), sprouted grains and bagna cauda dip ($30).

“The idea is to take you on a bit of a journey through West County, but most importantly to cook great food,” said Luedtke.  “Yes, it is more elevated and refined, but certainly approachable, not stuffy or fussy. My goal to create a space that feels warm, inviting, and one of a kind.” 

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