This is the sixth and final post in the series titled Weekend in Sonoma + Napa. Other posts in this series include Cafe La Haye, Exploring Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma Canopy Tours – Ziplining Among the Redwood Trees, St. Jean Cinq Cepages Release Party, and Torc Napa
In America, hotel restaurants often have a reputation of not having the best food. They are always open, never full, and offer mediocre food at best. True or not, it is a bias that people have about hotel restaurants. In Napa, there are several extreme exceptions to that perception. Perhaps the most famous example would be the Restaurant at Meadowood, a three-Michelin starred restaurant that is associated with the Inn at Meadowood.
Another example would be the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant Sonoma, a quaint restaurant inside of a house located on the property of the Farmhouse Inn, a luxury “bed and breakfast” with rooms on the property.
We weren’t staying at the Farmhouse Inn, but we had read incredible things about it. This restaurant has received one Michelin star, been named as one of the top 25 best restaurants in Sonoma, and the Inn itself has been named one of the best 100 hotels in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine.
We visited Farmhouse Inn Restaurant on our last day in wine country. It was located not too far from Sonoma Canopy Tours, and thus was a natural place to plan our dinner after an afternoon of zipping around the redwood forests!
We walked into the front door of what looked just like a farmhouse and were greeted warmly by members of the staff.
Our waiter was a pro and knew the menu inside and out. The restaurant also had a sommelier who had excellent knowledge, especially of the Russian River Valley (which is where we were). Although he gave us some excellent California wine recommendations, Bryan ended up being tempted by a 1971 Barbaresco from Produttori del Barbaresco. We were celebrating his birthday, and the price of the bottle seemed surprisingly reasonable for such an old wine that still had a pretty good rating.
The menu at the Farm House Inn is pretty simple. You choose between a 3-course menu or a 4-course menu. It’s pretty much up to you how you design it. The waiter half jokingly remarked “we even had a guy order the foie gras as his dessert . . .”
Bryan’s ears perked up.
“That’s not a bad idea . . .”
Bryan decided to order the 4-course and I ordered the 3-course.
We both started out with a lovely amuse bouche, a velvety cold blended sunchoke soup topped with a single sunchoke chip, caviar, and creme fraiche. It was lovely. After our little bite, our server brought over freshly baked bread from Blackbird Bakery, a local bakery in Santa Rosa, California, along with some maracapone butter.
My first course was Line Caught Wild King Salmon served with salt roasted beets topped with crushed pistachio, a sunflower mousse but made without any olive oil, an unusual apple-horseradish vinaigrette, and fresh flowers. The salmon flesh was firm, but not in a bad way. The overall flavors reminded me of late summer, and were very nice overall.
The Heirloom Tomato Salad was excellent. The heirloom tomatoes, which came from a nearby farm, were sweet and intensely flavorful. We absolutely loved the burrata, which was actually “locally” made (in California, not Italy!). The salad had a nice salty umami from the taggliasca olive vinaigrette. The squash blossom tempura and the frisée added nice textural elements to the dish.
The Bell Weather Ricotta Tortellini with black truffles and cream sauce was amazing. We loved the chewy texture of the pasta, and the cream sauce was rich, creamy, and decadent. The black truffles were high quality and very fragrant, adding so much more to the already delicious dish.
I ordered the Grilled Octopus as my second course (since there are no rules, I decided to go a bit lighter). It was really good. The octopus was nicely grilled and had a lovely smoky char flavor yet was also super tender and soft. It came with dots of a lovely smoky eggplant purée made from charred and blended eggplant, which were also smoky in flavor. Finally, there were beans cooked in marrow fat, preserved lemon, and chorizo. All the flavors came together really nicely to form a great dish.
Bryan ordered their signature dish, called Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit. It consists of rabbit prepared three different ways: rabbit loin wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, a roasted rack of rabbit with thyme, and a confit rabbit leg with a whole grain mustard cream sauce. There were also some snap peas and green and yellow beans. Bryan thought it was a very good dish and finished everything.
True to his word, Bryan ordered the Hudson Valley Foie Gras ($18 supplement) for dessert. It came with cinder poached quince, candy stripe fig brulee, and a huckleberry gastrique. The foie gras itself was seared and paired with a lovely, sweet dessert wine. The wine is similar to Sauternes but instead of harvesting just the grapes with noble rot (which is very sweet), this winemaker takes the whole grape cluster, resulting in a slightly more tart wine. It was a lovely pairing.
For my dessert, I ordered the Artisan Cheese Course. We enjoyed five difference cheeses (mild to strong) together with figs from an 85 year old fig tree onsite. There was also a ground cherry for tartness.
All in all, it was a lovely dinner. Our server was great and really made us feel like we were at home. The food is great overall. I especially liked how flexible the tasting menu was. I liked how we could pick a starter as the main; order different numbers of courses; and get foie gras for dessert.
There were occasionally tiny service missteps (e.g., one person put the fork on the wrong side of the plate, another made a mistake in naming one of the dishes). All in all, however, these are minuscule things. What’s important is that the place made us happy. The farmhouse was warm and cozy; the food was very good; and we felt like they were taking good care of us.
I would highly recommend this place.
Happy birthday Bryan!
Farmhouse Inn Restaurant Sonoma
7871 River Road
Forestville, CA 95436