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38º North Opens at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

Art illustrating 38º North - Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn.

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma has been steadily working away on its $10.7 million renovation, and now, one of the last puzzle pieces has been put in place.

A new small bites and cocktail lounge called 38º North has just opened in the former Lobby Bar space that long sat outside Santé Restaurant.

Santé, as its many fans know, was completely updated after closing this winter, then re-opened in April. The new design for it and 38º North showcases a sleek, minimalist look with comfortable chairs for lingering, and sofas in the lounge.

In a dramatic change from the former Lobby Bar, 38º North is as much about food as it is about drink. Open nightly from 5 p.m. to midnight, it features small plates from executive chef Bruno Tison and chef de cuisine Andrew Cain, in a menu divided up among the wine listings.

With more than 50 wines by the glass from local and international wineries, the sectioning helps guide diners, letting them know that the vineyard escargots à la Bourguignonne ($14), for example, go nicely with the Newton Unfiltered 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($28).

Just don’t expect typical bar fare like chicken wings and potato skins. The line up is all about classy comfort food such as Cabernet braised beef poutine with house-made fries and Bellwether Farms crescenza ($18), Santé’s Celebrated Grown-Up Mac & Cheese with lobster, black truffles, organic orecchiette and Fontina Val d’Aosta ($22); grass-fed beef sliders topped in caramelized onions, Gruyère and dijonnaise ($24), and “Faux Foie Gras” of Sonoma duck liver mousse with Madeira gelée, cinnamon poached prune and crostini ($14).

Still, there’s plenty of kickback fun to be had. San Francisco’s “Rubberband Girl,” a.k.a. Erin Prunchak, spins DJ tunes every Friday and Saturday evening through the summer season.

In case anyone is wondering why the place is called 38º North, by the way, here it is. First, the 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that crosses Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia, the Pacific, North America (Sonoma, Calif.) and the Atlantic. As we all knew.

But according to the Fairmont marketing team, the imaginary east-west circle includes the world’s most iconic wine regions, like Alicante in Spain, Italy’s Calabria, New Zealand’s Hunter’s and Hawke’s Bay, and of course, Sonoma Valley. 

Details: 38º North, 100 Boyes Blvd. (at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa), Sonoma, 707-938-9000.

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