Top Farm-to-Table Restaurants in Sonoma County
Sonoma County chefs love their local ingredients and supporting independent farmers. Menus sing with produce grown in Wine Country gardens, meats from Wine Country ranches, dairy from Wine Country creameries, and seafood from Wine Country rivers and oceans.
Here's a tip of the dusty John Deere baseball cap to the soil, toil, and the finesse of a locavore chef.
the girl and the fig, Sonoma
This longtime classic, French-country destination on the Sonoma Plaza is a delight, for seasonal plates like duck egg ravioli with spring mushrooms, onion crema, green garlic, spring peas and baby carrots sprinkled in smoked paprika.
Not too long ago, Lady Gaga turned heads as she dined here, accompanied by her boyfriend and two bodyguards.
But really, it's the regulars who make the scene here, savvy enough to know that the backyard garden patio offers the best seats, and that the best meal can come from asking the servers for the Sonoma-sourced, extra-special plates of the day.
Madrona Manor Wine Country Inn & Restaurant, Healdsburg
This historic 1881 Victorian mansion has been lovingly restored by owners Bill and Trudi Konrad, and includes a glamorous, Michelin Star restaurant glittering with fine silver, china, and candlelight.
The New Californian-Global cuisine from executive chef Jesse Mallgren changes with the seasons, including ingredients from the on-site garden. In autumn, that might mean roasted brassica with estate persimmon, pickled cippollini and charred onion sauce; pumpkin risotto with Alba truffles; and roast squab breast and confit thigh with barley and kale, along with a world-class wine list.
Jil and Geoffrey Hales are so committed to farm-to-fork that Jil produced a film, titled Eat the View, that documents the journey one plate of food takes as the ingredients travel across Sonoma County, through the Barndiva kitchen, and into the dining room.
Chef Mark Hopper sources the best ingredients from boutique places like Preston Farm & Winery, Bellwether Farms, Mix Gardens, Earlybird's Place, and Daniel's Flats, producing fantastic dishes such as 'the farmers market' of puff pastry, ricotta, summer vegetables, tomato, pickled chiles, and olives, or wild Pacific sea bass with Sardinian couscous, avocado, blistered cherry tomato, olives, and local Dungeness crab.
Farmhouse Inn, Forestville
White tablecloths drape the tables at this Michelin Star restaurant owned by siblings Catherine and Joe Bartolomei.
Yet though the food and drink is serious, there's a warm, friendly mood, and playful dishes like the signature Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, bringing a petite roasted rack, loin cut into thick coins then wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon, and leg confit draped in velvety whole-grain mustard sauce alongside Yukon potato. Chef Steve Litke's shops daily for his frequently-changing, luxurious, Cal-Mediterranean menu showcasing mostly local ingredients.
Glen Ellen Star, Glen Ellen
Chef Ari Weiswasser offers just 24 seats in his Cal-Mediterranean bistro, but the star is a big, fire-breathing wood oven.
He previously worked as chef de partie at French Laundry, and cooked at Picholine, Daniel, Gilt, and Corton in New York, but perfectly captures the uncomplicated essence of Wine Country cooking with dishes like brussels sprouts in brown sugar bacon marmalade; crispy spaetzle tossed with celery root, huckleberries and Parmesan; and exquisitely crisp and golden brick chicken paired with creamy polenta, lemon and Spanish caper jus. Reservations are a must.
Chefs Daniel Kedan and Marianna Gardenhire met at the Culinary Institute of America and now, as husband and wife, are rocking Sonoma Wine Country with their comfy 40-seat eatery serving top-notch cuisine. Joining them is another talent, partner and co-chef Seth Harvey.
Kedan previously was a chef at Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc in Yountville and Lowell's in Sebastopol, while Harvey worked at the former Petite Syrah. Backyard's daily-changing menu reflects their skills with exotica like wild nettle ravioli with ricotta, egg, bacon, and almond nettle broth. Many ingredients are hyperlocal, such as Singing Frog's produce, Nightingale bread, Bohemian Creamery cheeses, and Felton Acres chicken.
SingleThread Farm Restaurant & Inn, Healdsburg
Restaurateurs Kyle and Katina Connaughton finessed every detail of their combination restaurant and luxury inn for more than two years before welcoming their first diners in fall 2016. The result is an elegant space that is home to equally sophisticated cooking. Offering an 11-course tasting menu customized to guests' dietary preferences and restrictions, SingleThread is based on the Japanese concepts of kaiseki - elaborate multicourse meals crafted as art - and donabe - rustic clay pot cooking.
Menus change daily, but might include delicacies like black cod Fukkura-san (donabe style) with root vegetables, cabbage, charred onion, and walnut-nori pesto; plus wild salmon donabe-smoked over cherry-blossom-wood with fermented rice, salmon roe, and wild ginger. SingleThread serves dinner Tuesday-Sunday, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. The cost for either meal is $295 per person including tax and gratuity; drinks can be $72-$385 per person. Tables can be requested up to three months in advance and are released on the first of each month.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.