Wine Country Eats: A Crop-Up Hot Spot and Meaty Sports Watching


A new steakhouse with sporty influences has options for eaters of all ages and bents in Santa Rosa. And a new crop-up restaurant in St. Helena is a steal for diners in the know – hush, hush!

Steaks and related meaty goods (prime rib!), a raw bar, Sonoma garden salads, and rotisserie chicken with rosemary mashed potatoes sound like the upside to any dinner proposition. With that in mind, Santa Rosa has a new dining option by way of Flipside Steakhouse and Sports Bar (in the space that was formerly Rita's as well as Doc Holliday's Saloon), which opened last month and is now the Bay Area’s largest sports bar. The sports scene for Flipside translates to a whopping 27 high-definition 55-inch and 150-inch 3D projector televisions—if it’s a sporty event, you can catch it here. The overall space is big and there’s definitely room to spread out and get comfy with the booths being prime territory.

There’s also a bonus for social types who have kiddos: kids (under age 10) eat for free every day before 7 p.m. Plus, there’s a slew of local wines and craft beer to add to the celebratory feel for the kids over age 21. Flipside is the sister business to Chez Vous Catering to YouFlipside Bar & Burger on Third Street in downtown Santa Rosa; and the Lakeside Grill in Spring Lake Park in Santa Rosa; later this year, look for the debut of the Flipside Brewhouse in nearby Rohnert Park, in the space that housed Latitude Island Grill. 138 Calistoga Rd., Santa Rosa.

You’ve done the pop-up thing, but what about the crop-up restaurant? Two years ago, the legendary chef Larry Forgione moved to St. Helena with the idea to start a program at the Culinary Institute of America. The crop-up restaurant incorporates nearby Charles Krug farmland (donated by way of the Peter Mondavi family) and cooking. The tasty result is something of an insider steal for Valley residents: Friday and Saturday prix-fixe dinner meals happen at the Conservatory Restaurant at the CIA, which opened late last summer.

Chef Forgione is a CIA grad, and the menus are a collaboration between him and the students, who are a part of a fifteen-week semester program for students getting a four-year degree in conjunction with the Hyde Park campus in upstate New York. The crop-up offers multi-course (six to seven) meals at $65 per person and $105 with wine pairing—recent menus include a flavorful salad, duck main dish, pasta and dessert; there’s also a duck prosciutto and fig starter or wilted Tuscan kale salad over a truffled Arborio risotto with butternut squash puree.

The Conservatory is a hugely popular option for the students, according to spokesperson Tyffani Peters. During their terms, students plant, harvest, and cook for a menu that is usually set on Friday (for ideal freshness). Reservations via Open Table are a must for this one, but the smarty-pants in our midst probably already knew that. 2555 Main St., St Helena. 

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