I basically starved myself in preparation for judging Cochon 555 at Silverado Resort on Sunday. By the time the plates of food came trickling into judge's chambers round about 5 p.m., I was ravenous. I played it safe, though, sampling bites from the bites, trying not to get full before the arrival of Devin Knell's pork paté set on a perfect rectangle of pistachio genoise and Dennis Lee's ssäm. Somehow, miraculously, I made it through unscathed. You know what took the toll? The free-flowing whiskey. Figures.
So when I woke up at Silverado on Monday morning hungry (!) I had a vestigal memory of a place Sara had been raving about in Sonoma, the Fremont Diner. She'd gone with her parents a few weeks back and returned extolling the virtues of this cute little spot, its spicy fried chicken and the ultra-thick shakes. This may sound counter-intuitive, but if you have been eating pork and drinking whiskey all night, the next day you need something to set you right. I motored over to Fremont and, as Sara had promised, this place is so sweet, a little ramshackle white-washed side-of-the-road joint with an outdoor patio hung with tin lights. Inside, a chalk menu board beckons—pepper brisket hash, pulled pork sandwiches—and the counter is filled with jars of cookies and cake stands piled with biscuits. The walls are lined with condiments, from chili vinegar to blackstrap molasses BBQ sauce, and jars of penny candy, and there are a handful of plain wood tables inside, along with a counter that affords a view of the flat-top
We'd stepped in just after the breakfast cut-off, so I chose a burger. Squidgy egg bun, lots of special sauce, cheddar cheese and a grass-fed beef patty cooked just right, sided by pickled fennel and a pile of browned fries that—are you listening—were the best I've had in recent memory. I cleaned my plate. I eyed a neighboring table's onion rings enviously. And then, of course, I ordered a pig-shaped peanut butter sandwich cookie to go, just to keep in the spirit of the weekend. 2698 Fremont Dr., Sonoma, CA, 95476, 707-938-7370. Daily, 7am to 4 pm.