Healdsburg: November 2010 Archives

We All Swoon for Spoonbar

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spoonbar4.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The h2hotel is Healdsburg's newest swank place to sleep, but its in-house bar does a lot to prevent any sleep from happening.  Sleek modern furniture, all-spoon waterfall, small production artisanal liquors, classic glassware, and incomparable barman Scott Beattie at the helm make it very hard to call it a night when Spoonbar bartenders await.

Bar Manager Scott Beattie first secured his place in the pantheon of celebrity mixologists when he created the award-winning bar program at Cyrus restaurant, just a few steps up the street in the Les Mars hotel.  Scott's rigorous standards for organic seasonal produce, ultra-premium mixers, and craft-distilled local spirits changed the way people looked at cocktails--and the way cocktails look.  His excellent mixologist cookbook, Artisanal Cocktails, belongs in every cocktail enthusiast's library, whether or not you can hunt down fresh Rangpur limes or borage blossoms in your area, and whether or not you ever intend to dehydrate lotus chips, pickle hearts of palm, or make grapefruit foams to garnish your drinks.   After a few years of freelance cocktail catering and consulting post cocktail cookbook, Scott has again stepped behind the bar to kick off the program at Spoonbar, a restaurant with locally-driven, sustainable ingredient sourcing priorities that line up rather nicely with his own.  

Healdsburg's Dry Creek Kitchen

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drycreekkitchen.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

All too frequently, restaurants run by out-of-town celebrity chefs reflect their out of town origins more than their actual location.  Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen bucks that trend in every respect, and more than lives up to its name.   

Chef de cuisine and Healdsburg native Dustin Vallette manages the kitchen, crafting elegant menus from Sonoma County's finest seasonal ingredients to complement the region's distinctive wines.  Sommelier Drew Munro has created an all-Sonoma County wine list of over 600 different bottles, including the largest selection of dessert wines of any Sonoma restaurant, but the restaurant charges no corkage for Sonoma County wines brought in to the restaurant.   Dry Creek Kitchen's active participation in numerous special events throughout the year further celebrates the local winemakers, and food artisans of the area.

The restaurant is situated on the main square in downtown Healdsburg, immediately next to the swank Healdsburg Hotel.  I met General Manager Dan Prentice last year during an unrelated visit to the hotel last year, and after a fascinating discussion of the restaurant's numerous dining and wine programs, he invited me back to experience them first-hand. 

Hungry for Healdsburg

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drycreekkitchen2.jpgBy Robert P. Farmer

It's difficult to not eat well in Wine Country. Even the holes-in-the-wall joints along the road tend to be well above average - indeed some are included among the best bets when it comes to dining. Each of the many and varied towns in the Napa and Sonoma valleys have their distinct characteristics. And, each has their destination-dining spots. But few have the abundance of options as Healdsburg. From coffee shop and bakery to casual takeaway diner to multi-star restaurant, Healdsburg's collection of dining options is among the best anywhere in Napa, Sonoma, or anyplace for that matter.

Situated far in the northern reaches of Sonoma County, Healdsburg is, like most of Sonoma's small town, centered on a square. The Town Square is the hub of activity for Healdsburg, where the spokes of good wine, good food, and social spirit emanate in all directions.

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