All that 40 percent new French oak here and 30 percent new French oak there means if there is one thing Wine Country has too much of (besides over-oaked wine) it's old French oak. And there are only so many candle holders, planters and rocking chairs one can make. But used barrels are now answering to an even higher calling: that of barbecue.
Jonathon Bodnar of Smoakville in Napa has found success cooking his ribs and brisket over old barrel staves and now Carlo Cavallo in Sonoma will be employing a similar strategy for his forthcoming restaurant Burgers & Vine.
The chef and proprietor of Meritage Oyster Bar and Grill is bringing back to life the old Sonoma Mission Creamery building on the corner of Spain Street and First Street East that was built in 1926 and has been vacant since 2006. Cavallo tells Sonoma's Index-Tribune that he plans to change the space very little beyond installing what will be perhaps the longest bar (reclaimed redwood, of course) in all of Sonoma.
For the past few weeks Cavallo has been testing menu items — chicken wings, a Greek-themed lamb burger and the like — at Meritage Oyster Bar and Grill on Wednesday nights. He plans to have six signature burgers (including a $40 lobster tail-topped Kobe beef burger), prime rib and smokehouse classics like brisket.
And what will he be slinging from the largest bar in Sonoma? Milkshakes, naturally. Both adult and non-alcoholic shakes harken back to the buildings dairy days. But the lactose intolerant shouldn't worry; there will also be six beers on tap and full, whiskey-centric bar. Live music on the weekends will bring some night life to that corner of the plaza.
Cavallo plans to have Burgers & Vine open sometime in February.