Need some food (and drink) for thought? Here's what’s new in Wine Country.
When you’ve only got two dozen seats in your tiny restaurant, every inch counts. Glen Ellen chef-owner Ari Weiswasser worked with Sonoma design team Harlin + Sparrow on a new, enclosed dining area elaborately decked in reclaimed redwood, stained cement floors, a big wagon wheel chandelier, and copper trimmed vintage seating. The idea is to accommodate overflow crowds from the main restaurant, but also to lure in more private parties for delicious family-style menus featuring smoked rack of pork, whole roasted leg of lamb, seafood paella, or the crème de la crème of suckling pig roast with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer included. // 13648 Arnold Drive (Glen Ellen); glenellenstar.com
HopMonk Tavern owner Dean Biersch recently took over this funky little roadhouse in Penngrove, which has been slinging stiff drinks since 1924. The cosmetic overhaul is subtle (don’t mess with funky flair), but the beer has been upgraded to focus on local craft selections, and the food menu features such classics as fried chicken sandwiches, chili and cornbread, and smoked pork sliders. Former tavern owner Sheila Groves Tracy decided to stay on as a music booker, and the live bands rock. // 5745 Old Redwood Hwy (Penngrove); twinoakstavernpenngrove.com
The family-owned Sonoma Valley winery has named a new chef to head the culinary side of its estate-grown wine experience. Local talent Clinton Huntsman (Bouchon Bistro, Craft, Calistoga Ranch) is now in charge of creating unique food and wine pairings as well as special menus for private events. Our favorite new creation? A Linen Bag Breakfast Tasting which includes poached eggs, braised greens with bacon rillettes and fresh Blue Ribbon biscuits topped in house made jam paired with Champagne from the Hamel Jr.’s private cellar ($35). Yum. // 15401 Sonoma Hwy (Sonoma); hamelfamilywines.com
After months of speculation, the official name of Francis Ford Coppola’s newest project has finally been revealed. Drumroll, please…Virginia Dare Winery in Geyserville. As you'll recall from American history, Dare was the first child born in the English colonies and her fate (along with the rest of the North Caolina colony) has remained a mystery, which makes the names of the winery's first batch of vino—The White Doe, Manteo, Two Arrowheads, and The Lost Colony— especially eerie. // 22281 Chianti Road (Geyserville); virginiadarewinery.com
Another craft brewery joins the Santa Rosa scene. Owner Tyler Smith debuted Cooperage Brewing Company this month, a shop specializing in “sour and funky” beers inspired by the lambic beer producers of Belgium. Because sour and barrel-aged beers take time to produce, though, you can enjoy fresh hoppy beers (pale ales and IPAs), Belgian styles, stouts, and porters while you wait. // 981 Airway Court, Suite G (Santa Rosa); cooperagebrewing.com
Southern charm arrives in Petaluma
with Sauced BBQ, whose wood décor and corrugated ceiling come reclaimed from barns in Georgia and North Carolina— super authetic. To eat, there are messy marvels such as bumpkins (barbecued egg rolls stuffed with brisket, pimento cheese, sautéed onions, roasted poblano, and smoked corn), spare ribs, and burnt ends (twice-smoked and twice-rubbed cubes of brisket from the juicier point section). Not waddling yet? Go for the peanut butter pie with Oreo crust. // 151 Petaluma Blvd. S. Suite 129