Welcome to the new series on Sonoma!
In my opinion, spring is one of the best seasons to visit California's gorgeous wine country. It's the only time in the whole year when the hills are vibrantly green from all of the rain over the winter. The yellow mustard flowers are also out, providing pockets of golden hue in many places.
I had the opportunity to follow Bryan on one of his business trips to Sonoma this past spring. We spent a week in Sonoma visiting many of our old favorite haunts as well as checking out new places. This series will focus on all the places we visited during this trip!
After getting off of a twelve-hour flight from Hong Kong, we picked up a rental car and drove about two hours north to arrive in Sonoma.
Our first stop? Dinner at Harvest Moon.
Harvest Moon is a family run cafe in the heart of the Plaza in Sonoma.
Owners husband and wife duo Nick and Jen originally graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After spending time in upstate New York, Texas, and the island of Cypress, they eventually ended up in the Bay area where, after a few years of weekend trips to wine country, they decided to settle in Sonoma and open Harvest Moon.
The place is cozy, friendly, and feels very much like a neighborhood restaurant. In fact, we learned about this place from a friend who lives in Sonoma. Our friend is a regular there and goes there multiple times a week. It's almost like a second home. The menu changes constantly depending on what ingredients are available during that season.
Nick and Jen are passionate about using the freshest local ingredients. They even have their own garden. The menu will indicate from which specific local farm or ranch the ingredients came. In fact, Harvest Moon makes a point to only source from farms, ranches, and fisheries that are guided by principles of sustainability.
The dishes are simple and showcase the fresh ingredients well. Menu items change frequently dues to the seasonality and availability of ingredients.
The slow-cooked Beef Bolognese with bucatini pasta, fried sage, black truffle oil and Pecorino Romano ($14.95) is rustic and flavorful. We ordered it as a mid course between the salads and the mains.
Meat comes from a number of purveyors, such as Niman Ranch beef and Liberty Farms duck, just to name a few. Portion sizes are quite generously sized!
The steak is lean and flavorful, likely grass-fed (though we weren't sure).
I love how they are not afraid to cook the pork so that it's still pink in the middle. It's so much juicier this way! The grilled pork chop is always an excellent choice, though it's also a large portion!
In general, the food at Harvest Moon leans on the saltier side. I think if I hadn't just come here from Hong Kong, I would not have noticed as much. But both Bryan and I noted that the food here was quite strongly seasoned. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's over salted, but it's definitely on the saltier side. For those who are sensitive to salt (like me), you may want to note that.
Desserts are comfort foods: think fruit cobblers a la mode, s'mores with house made marshmallows, and biscotti.
General Thoughts - Harvest Moon Sonoma
This is a warm, friendly, and comfortable place to enjoy a great meal at a very approachable price. Appetizers are between $11 - $15 and main courses are around $25 - $35. The quality of the ingredients is top notch, both the farm fresh vegetables and the local meats. The food is rustic, simple, and flavorful, albeit on the saltier side. They serve a nice selection of local Sonoma wines as well, including our friend's wine (which we ordered!), the Kamen cabernet sauvignon (excellent wine, by the way).
This place embodies many of Sonoma's philosophies, which I like. It's a rustic, charming, genuine restaurant serving honest, simple food with lots of passion, warmth, and hospitality. I can totally see why it feels like a second home.