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The Michelin Star Shines Brightly in Sonoma for 2017

Farmhouse Inn

Restaurant owners and chefs worldwide dream of Michelin stars, bestowed oh so carefully by the French guidebook company and its troops of secret inspectors.

Three stars are reserved for an almost impossible echelon, so rare that in the entire Bay Area there are only six.

Yet three stars is “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” Two stars mean “excellent cooking, worth a detour,” while one star means “a very good restaurant in its category” – something to be very proud of, as well.

And then, there are Bib awards, which honor an eatery for its “good value, excellent food and top-notch service.” What it all means: Essentially, any level of Michelin recognition is a monumental thing indeed.

For 2017, Sonoma County garnered a good share of awards, bringing just desserts to our top chef talents. Here are our One Star celebrities.

Madrona Manor
The historic 1881 Victorian mansion that houses the restaurant is also an Inn, lovingly restored by Manor owners Bill and Trudi Konrad. The eight acres of meticulously landscaped gardens and wooded grounds are home to 18 rooms/suites with fireplaces, and some with large balconies or decks.

So the restaurant itself is nearly a secret, run by executive chef Jesse Mallgren in an exquisite setting of crisp white linens, fine silver, china and candlelight in five intimate, parlor-style rooms.

The New Californian-Global cuisine changes with the seasons, but some signatures include roasted brassica with estate persimmon, pickled cippollini, and charred onions sauce; pumpkin risotto with Alba truffles; and roast squab breast and confit thigh with barley and kale. The wine list is exceptional.

Details: Madrona Manor, 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant

If the typical farmer lived this well, we would all be farmers. This rural property is a ravishing mix of gorgeous guest rooms, an elegant new “barn” of suites, a restaurant fed by farm-fresh food, and a seasonally inspired spa.

Yet the owners, siblings Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, actually do come from fifth-generation farmers. There is a master sommelier on staff, to pair with chef Steve Litke’s luxurious Cal-Mediterranean creations. The menu changes nearly daily, but a longtime standard is the Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, offered as 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.

Details: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, 7871 River Road, Forestville

Terrapin Creek Café

This charming, Slow Food-style destination comes from chef-owners Andrew Truong (formerly sous chef at Bacar), and his wife, Liya Lin (previously a cook at Ducca and Michael Mina).

Set in a relaxed but stunningly chic space in the quiet ocean town of Bodega Bay, the cuisine wows with the finest ingredients in inventive pairings. That might include artfully arranged cold crab salad with the seafood plucked straight from the sea outside, or panko crusted crab over green lentils and sautéed cabbage with roasted mushrooms, currants and curry oil.

Simplicity shines, for recipes like a Fuyu persimmon and prosciutto salad with mixed lettuces, toasted almonds and goat cheese in tart cherry vinaigrette, yet the kitchen revs things up, too, with more complex dishes like homemade pappardelle pasta tossed with braised beef oxtail, Swiss chard, caramelized onions, and Parmesan. In a friendly touch, the restaurant also serves lunch.

Details: Terrapin Creek Cafe, 1580 Eastshore Rd., Bodega Bay

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