Tasked with creating a menu for Hotel Healdsburg’s Spirit Bar — which opened earlier this year as a reincarnation of the hotel’s former no-name lobby bar — Dustin Valette, the Executive Chef of Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen (also housed in the hotel) started thinking about some of his favorite childhood food.
But there is nothing childish about his pork belly lollipops or black truffle spring rolls with espelette peppers. Pickled watermelon and macadamia nuts do just fine plated with delicate slices of Hawaiian Ahi sashimi and drizzled with bacon avocado. The chef captures all the comfort and pleasure of breaking into a chicken potpie with his elevated version: scallops en croute with Pernod leeks and Champagne caviar sauce presented barside in a saucepan.
The citrus-driven cocktails, created by Brian Cary, pair well with Valette’s rich dishes. Two of the best drinks make good use of a wine that Iron Horse makes just for Charlie Palmer: The tart and refreshing Sonoma 75 and the house Champagne cocktail, which includes elderflower water (like St. Germaine but not as sweet) and a lemon zest.
The bar comes alive on Friday and Saturday nights when the grand piano takes center stage. Yes, we're told he takes requests — just as long as you don't request Piano Man.
Open Fri - Sun, 12 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. and Mon - Thurs, 5 to 11:30 p.m. Spirit Bar at Hotel Healdsburg, 25 Matheson Street, Healdsburg. (707) 431-0330.