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Glen Ellen’s Fig Café Offers New Menu

Restaurateur Sondra Bernstein is a well known name among Sonoma County restaurant lovers, for her Girl & The Fig café in downtown Sonoma, and her Fig Café in Glen Ellen. But after 18 years, even the most admired eatery can use a freshening up, and so she has just reopened Fig Café, following a six-week closure and a floor-to-ceiling upgrade. To celebrate the revamp — and well, because dishes change weekly to showcase seasonal ingredients — Bernstein has debuted brand new dinner and weekend brunch menus, too.

Initially, Bernstein thought about mainly fresh paint and furniture, with little interruption to business. Yet workers found some issues under the floor, so the space, which originally debuted as the Girl & The Fig in 1997, underwent extra hammer time (the Girl & The Fig moved to its current Sonoma location in 1997).

The top-to-bottom makeover is indeed dramatic, bringing a lighter, brighter mood, with pastel paints, handcrafted woodwork, bold geometric metals and minerals, refined ceramic, glass, and granite, all primarily made by local artists.

“Our guests seem to thing we have raised the roof and expanded the walls,” said Bernstein. “I only wish, as it would have given us a few more seats or a second level!”

The menu board shows a touch of whimsy, too, well, presented on wood slabs dyed with juice from local Grenache grapes, while the weekly Plats du Jour three-course prix-fixe is handwritten on sheets rolled from an antique butcher paper dispenser by the front door.

Menus change every Friday, though executive chef and managing partner John Toulze maintains a farm-to-table Cal-Med theme, with emphasis on organic produce from the restaurant’s “sharecropper” arrangement at the garden on Imagery Estate Winery nearby.

That means dinner dishes like lightly fried olives stuffed with housemade mortadella alongside anchovy rémoulade ($5); goat cheese gnocchi with black truffle, winter onions, carrots, and pine nut pesto ($18); and Mt. Lassen Trout in brown butter with sunchokes, preserved lemon, and marinated ricotta ($22).

At brunch, guests can dig into breakfast pizza topped in bacon, farm egg, four cheeses and scallions ($14); a salmon and goat cheese scramble ($14); steamed mussels with chorizo ($13); and cheddar biscuits with ham gravy ($8).

Cocktails — any time of day — are a must, like a Fig Royale of sparkling wine and fig ($8), or Uncouth Vermouth with apple mint ($6).

Details: Fig Café, 13690 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-938-2130. Hours: Dinner 5 to 9:30 p.m. nightly; brunch 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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