Farm-to-table Food at Fork Roadhouse in Sebastopol
It can be a challenge getting dinner at Sonoma County’s latest — Fork Roadhouse in Sebastopol — since the quaint eatery only serves the main meal on Thursdays.
But that just makes the experience more special, for the farm-to-table goodness that is wild California sea bass dressed in fish fumet, fresh herbs and lemon, alongside Preston Farms Bodega red potatoes and Handlebar Farm carrots and zucchini ($25).
The Roadhouse, nestled in a quiet valley hollow on Highway 12 between Sebastopol and Freestone, specializes in breakfast and lunch, though even that is limited to Thursdays through Sundays.
Yet once again, that rarity somehow makes the food taste even better, when you’re tucking into a slow-cooked, smoked brisket sandwich with hand-cut fries ($13), or house-baked bread pudding of the day, the thick savory custard griddled as French toast with organic maple syrup ($12).
Roadhouse owner Sarah Piccolo has her plate full, so to speak. She also runs Fork Catering, with her Fork catering truck parked next to the restaurant when not in use at many events across Sonoma County. She supplies daily lunches to Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, too, and works with local food banks to share extra edibles.
Still, in between, she crafts delicious dishes for her restaurant, which is why, on a warm summer evening, my friends and I were relaxing at a slatted wood table on the patio, enjoying one of the best dinners in all of the North Bay.
There’s indoor dining, of course, and it’s very nice, with a pretty tile patchwork counter, gleaming polished wood tables, menus posted on chalkboards framing the peek-a-boo kitchen, and French curtained windows overlooking meadows across the street.
There’s also a charming patio, laid with slate pavers and set with more polished wood tables, shaded by rust color umbrellas and flanked by metal troughs turned into planters. But the cat’s meow is the garden, on a leaf-strewn dirt base framed with towering trees, edged with flowering shrubs and tucked with inviting wooden chaises alongside a creek.
The menu changes with the seasons, and our evening’s soup spoke of summer in a creamy mélange of carrot, fennel, and leek ($6). An arugula salad came decorated with Handlebar Farm beets three ways — carpaccio, caviar and salt-roasted — plus tangy dollops of Humboldt Fog goat cheese and slabs of grilled bread ($12). And what a delicious way to herald the emerging tomato season, with crispy-battered Handlebar Farm fried green tomatoes and avocado nested on leaves of Three Ox Farm Tom Thumb lettuce ($10).
I always prefer to go to Fork with a group, since choosing dishes is difficult, and this way, I can sample nearly all of them. An entrée of hand-cut local duck egg pasta beckoned, for example, tossed with firm, meaty Baja prawns and a clean, earthy ragout of juicy local mushrooms, leek and fennel ($23).
The Montgomery Ferguson Farm pork chop was another temptation, glistening with Preston Farm tangy apricot plum chutney ($23), while we couldn’t pass on the tooth-tender braised short ribs, either, balanced on a bed of fennel red wine sauce-smothered smashed Bodega reds ($21).
The upscale comfort food mood continues with desserts, including the excellent cherry rhubarb strawberry crisp topped in Three Twins vanilla ice cream ($8), and the sumptuous ice cream floats that can be crafted with soda choices like Maine Root Mexicane Cola, Root Beer, or Orange Soda (all $6), or Taylor’s Tonic Chai Cola or Black Butte Porter Beer (each $8). Don’t even both getting two straws for those floats, though — you won’t want to share a single sip.
This is a locals’ secret treasure for breakfast, certainly. A pork belly taco is as decadent as it sounds ($6 for one/ $11 for two), elegantly draped with whole braised leeks, greens, watermelon radishes, crumbled queso, tomatillo salsa and crema, plus the crowning touch — a golden fried egg that spills its yolk when pierced with a fork.
I also admire the breakfast bowl, a savory delight of steaming hot organic polenta dotted with Laura Chenel chevre, tart braised organic kale, gomasio (sesame seeds and salt), and a poached egg. Served with griddled Full Circle Bakery seven-grain bread, it’s a bargain, and even better when you add Beeler’s bacon ($2) and/or avocado ($1).
I may never eat another typical American breakfast, meanwhile, now that I’ve had Fork’s Tuscan Breakfast, a soupy joy of al dente white beans and kale topped in crispy focaccia breadcrumbs, shaved Parmesan, two fried eggs, and a spritz of Meyer lemon ($12). Scoop it with griddled bread, and bliss.
Despite the humble roadhouse moniker, Fork operates like a true restaurant, featuring staff who accommodate special requests like that of one of my dinner companions; she requested her grass-fed burger served bunless, with lots extra of the delicious boutique pickles, and with smashed potatoes instead of fries ($13).
The wine and beer list is good stuff, too, at reasonable prices — we sipped favorites like County Line 2013 Sonoma Coast Syrah ($10), Halleck Vineyard 2013 Little Sister Sauvignon Blanc ($10), VML/Iron Horse Vineyards 2010 Russian River Valley Blanc De Noir sparkling ($15), and Scrimshaw Pilsner, Racer 5 IPA ($5).
It’s a wonderful fork in the road, this Fork Roadhouse.
9890 Bodega Highway, 707-634-7575, http://forkcatering.com
Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday-Sunday; 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
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