Sonoma County Menus to FALL in Love With
When it comes to fall menus, we tend to expect to see certain ingredients and flavor profiles reflected. However, in a climate like we have in Sonoma County, where “summer” lasts much longer and fall is more temperate than in places with harsher climates, seasonal menus that incorporate locally grown ingredients can be more diverse.
Not every menu will feature butternut squash or pumpkin, cranberries, mushrooms, or celery root. Sonoma County farmers are still harvesting everything from beets and peppers to cucumbers and green beans in October through early November depending on the weather.
So, what should you expect to see on seasonal fall menus in Sonoma County? Fresh ingredients and creative dishes. A mix of traditional fall comfort food dishes (think butternut squash bisque, apple crumbles, and creamy dishes with wild mushrooms) and lighter, creative dishes that are more reflective of a restaurant’s unique cuisine or style while still incorporating locally grown, fresh ingredients.
Around the end of October/early November, most restaurants start rolling out new menus that feature slightly heartier, richer dishes, while others simply start changing the ingredients they work with based on what’s being harvested.
The restaurants and wineries below feature some of our favorite new fall menus in Sonoma County.
J Vineyards Bubble Room
While J Vineyards does not have a restaurant, they have a fantastic five-course food-and-wine experience inspired by local Sonoma County ingredients that changes seasonally. The menu is paired with J’s sparkling wines and single-vineyard Pinot Noirs.
Chef Forest Kellogg at J works closely with FEED, to source seasonal ingredients from local farms every two weeks so the ingredients on the menu are constantly changing. The upcoming fall menu includes new pairings including fresh oysters with pomegranate foam and tempura butternut squash alongside other dishes that will be updated with seasonal ingredients and flavor components.
At Little Saint, the 100% plant-based menu is designed around what is currently being harvested at the restaurant’s organic farm (located just a couple of miles away in rural Healdsburg) and at neighboring partner farms.
A few highlights from the restaurants recently released early-fall menu include:
- Mushroom and sweet potato biryani with basmati rice, pickled raisins, and fried onions
- Roasted beet tartare with macadamia nuts, nam prik (a spicy chili sauce), gem lettuce, and macoun apple
- Red lentil porridge with pattypan squash, Jimmy Nardellos peppers, toasted almonds, and harissa
- Hubbard squash soup with coconut yogurt and Thai basil
- Stuffed chard greens with beet merguez, tomato sauce, and sunflower seeds
Lo and Behold
Lo and Behold serves “global comfort food.” Chef Sean Kelley curates his own versions of traditional comfort food from other countries around the world. With the restaurant’s new fall menu, the chef has incorporated bolder, richer flavors and included some guilty pleasures that he thinks fit with the cravings that come along with cooler, crisper weather.
Alongside the printed menu, the restaurant always features at least one special off-menu dish. Most recently, the special included miso marinated short ribs.
A few dishes from the new fall menu at Lo and Behold include:
- BBQ oysters grilled over the fire with anticuchera butter and topped with crispy toasted pumpkin seeds
- Green curry clams with crispy sticky fried rice balls
- Rock shrimp cocktail poached in curry broth, mixed with passion fruit cocktail sauce, and topped with cilantro-ginger chutney.
- Crispy egg rolls stuffed with wood ear mushroom, cabbage, ginger and garlic
Table Culture Provisions
Table Culture Provisions serves hyper-seasonal California fare that walks the line between haute cuisine and comfort food in an intimate setting. The menu features ingredients that are sourced as locally and sustainably as possible.
The restaurant offers a nightly multi-course tasting menu as well as a curated menu of shareable plates.
Highlights from the new fall menu include an all-new tasting menu and new seasonal dishes to share.
The new fall shareables menu includes:
- Delicata squash rings, and tobiko and onion dip
- Stuffed gougere and pepita streusel with chicken liver mousse
- Blue fin tuna with watermelon, pickled cucumber, and seaweed salad
- Prawn skewers with crunchy peanuts and shishito crema
- Pressed ham and gruyere cheese bite with honey and black truffle
- Bone marrow butter and herb de provence
- Maitkae mushroom and soybean forbidden black rice
- Lemon cream with huckleberry compote and meringue kiss
The Madrona Hotel
Formerly the Madrona Manor, the newly renovated, redesigned, and rebranded Madrona Hotel offers intimate parlors and outdoor spaces where guests can enjoy a variety of culinary experiences. The dining program, headed by Chef Jesse Mallgren, features a menu that reflects the season and region while also drawing inspiration from global cuisines to highlight the fresh, local, seasonal ingredients.
New fall seasonal dishes that have been added to the menu include the following (though the menu will continue to change and shift throughout late fall and winter):
- Dayboat scallop crudo with estate feijoas, ponzu, shiso
- Duck rillette with lacto fermented vegetables, mustards, and warm pita bread
- Grilled local cod with fresh shelling beans, brussels sprouts, and manila clams
- Dry aged duck with estate chard, farro, roasted and pickled vegetables
- Dry aged beef striploin with red onion soubise, summer beans, anchoiade, and beef jus
Valley Bar and Bottle
Valley Bar and Bottle changes the menu based on what the farmers they work with have available, which means they are constantly tweaking dishes to incorporate what is currently being harvested. As of late October 2022, the restaurant had not officially rolled out a new fall menu, but the hope is to be able to serve chiles en nogada, and chile rellenos stuffed with picadillo in a walnut cream sauce with pomegranate. The restaurant will also start serving morem braised meats and stews (such as chile verde), soups, roasted vegetables, and gratins as the weather gets cooler. A favorite fall dish at Valley Bar and Bottle is fried delicata squash with chile honey.
St. Francis Winery
St. Francis Winery is known for being one of the best “restaurants” in the Sonoma Valley. While not technically a restaurant, Executive Chef Peter Janiak does a fantastic job curating dishes that pair perfectly with the wines they are served with and that incorporate ingredients and flavor profiles that reflect the season.
The fall 2022 menu includes:
- 2020 Chardonnay (Wild Oak Vineyard, Sonoma Valley) paired with parsnip and pear soup
- 2018 “Caro Santo” Sangiovese (Sonoma Valley) paired with semolina cavatelli
- 2018 Merlot (Behler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley) paired with liberty duck breast
- 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Moon Mountain District) paired with New York steak and summer truffle demiglace
- 2017 Port (Sonoma County) paired with Greek yogurt cheesecake
The Lazeaway Club at The Flamingo
Located at the recently updated Flamingo Hotel, the Lazeaway Club’s vibe is intended to help diners feel like they are on vacation. The cuisine features the spices, heat, and sweet and savory flavors of far-flung travel destinations combined with fresh, local ingredients.
Dishes from Lazeaway’s new fall menu include the following:
- Seared salmon and roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, shimeji mushrooms, coconut-lemongrass broth and turmeric oil
- Loco moco seasoned beef patty, coconut rice, wakame, umami gravy, and house chili crunch (brunch)
- Ahi tuna poke with sesame ponzu, pickled wakame, sweet onion, shiso oil, and taro root
Blue Ridge Kitchen
Newly added fall menu items at Blue Ridge Kitchen (at the Barlow in Sebastopol) include plates that incorporate classic winter ingredients such as chicory, cranberries, and sage as well as warm, comforting classics. This includes:
- Winter chicory salad with persimmon, radish, beet, blue cheese and candied walnuts
- Burrata toast (Red Bird Bakery) with cranberry sage jelly
- New England-style clam chowder served with Red Bird Bakery bread
- Pork cheek Bolognese with burrata
Written by Brooke Herron