Friday, May 6, 2011

Front Room at John Ash and Co

Sonoma Bento: In our current budget crisis, and by 'our' I mean MINE, it makes sense to make your dollar stretch. So Coco and I decided to hit up a happy hour or two to see if it is worth your while. Our first happy hour is John Ash and Co's Front Room. We went on a Thursday, but apparently Wednesdays they have free appetizers for one hour. Our server said it's a mad house on Wednesdays, and it was pretty sparsely attended the day we went.

Coco Carina: Even with the lack of people there, the service was kind of slow. The waitresses were nice enough, but sometimes it seemed like we were a bother to them, and that they would rather be serving the people with actual money who dressed nicer than us.

Sonoma Bento: The Front Room is a really nicely furnished room which reminds me a bit of Morrocco, with blue stuccoed walls and cool stained glass lamps. We sat next to a window partition overlooking another room of the restaurant and the beautiful gardens and vineyards next to the property.

Coco Carina: I did like the overall look and feel of the Front Room, there was lots of light and the decor was inviting. I did not like the fact that we had to ask our waitress to clean up the smudgy stuff that was on our table when we arrived. It was like a big glob of wax or something.

Sonoma Bento: They had drink specials during happy hour and I tried this yummy citrus drop drink, made with vodka, citrus juices, and cranberry juice. I think there might have been some triple sec in there too. It was not too sweet, and very refreshing.

Coco Carina: I ordered a pinot noir, and was able to try a sample of one pinot, which I ended up not liking, then got another glass of pinot. We thought the wine was discounted during happy hour, but our bill did not reflect that. I enjoyed my wine, but after tasting Sonoma Bento's citrus drop, I wish I had ordered that.

Sonoma Bento: We decided to order just a few items, instead of enough for a full meal for each of us, because this is a test of happy hours, not a substitute for dinner. We got the fries with cranberry ketchup, veggie spring rolls, and pork belly lollipops. I like skinny cut fries, so this was fun to share. And the cranberry ketchup was good, but I didn't realize that it tasted a bit different until like the fourth fry. The sauces for the spring rolls were good, but the spring rolls themselves were rather bland. I loved the pork belly lollipops! Delicious chunks of pork belly on a stick, who doesn't love that??

Coco Carina:  Feeling questionable about the pork belly lollipops, but I like pork so I decided what the hell, go ahead and try it, and they were delicious. I enjoyed the tamarind sauce over the other two sauces... a peanut sauce and a plum sauce. At two bucks each, they were a little pricy. Fries are pretty hard to screw up in my book, these were fresh, crispy and good, but nothing extraordinary. I agree with Sonoma Bento, the spring rolls definitely needed sauce to deal with their lack of flavor.

Sonoma Bento: Overall, we each paid 15 dollars (including tip) for a drink per person and three shared appetizers. It was ok, but I think there may be better deals out there for happy hour, and we are bound and determined to find them!

4350 Barnes Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Rustic at Francis Ford Coppola

Sonoma Bento: We headed to Geyserville to try out Francis Ford Coppola's Rustic, which is located in the Francis Ford Coppola Sonoma County winery. Our waiters were very attentive and explained any things we were curious about on the menu. We had two complimentary appetizers. One was called Aunt Christine's Pettole (Zeppole) which was a knot of fried bread. It arrived in a white paper bag, and was nice and warm. I like the presentation, but the bread was not spectacular. You can buy more of the bread for $3, but it is not worth buying more of them. The second appetizer (more of an amuse bouche) was a small crostini with a white bean puree on top, drizzled with olive oil and aged balsami vinegar. It also had a few scattered herbs. It was fun to eat, and nice to have little bites to try before our meal came.

Coco Carina: The aesthetics of FFC are very appealing. As you walk in, you find yourself immersed in the director's movie memoribilia. Inside the restaurant is a pizza oven which was cool to see the chefs prepare hot pieces of pie. It felt cozy even though the room has really high ceilings. I agree with Sonoma Bento that the bread was good, but not something I would order more of, though it was a nice treat to have the two mini appetizers delivered. It was a very welcoming touch.

Sonoma Bento: We really scored on the wine! The wine list contained more than just the wines from Francis Ford Coppola Winery. I got a glass of Sophia blanc de blancs sparkling wine for 5 dollars (it was kind of minerally, and I was not really thrilled with it-I've had it in the past and enjoyed it more), and then we decided to have the Francis Coppola "Rosso" wine to share. A bottle was just 12 dollars! It was a good value for the price. You can pay 12 bucks for a GLASS of wine at some places.

Coco Carina: I've had FFC Rosso wine before and thought it was good. It's not the best wine out there, but for the price, it definitely gets the job done. It paired decently with the meal, though I prefer more fruit-forward, less tannic wines.

Sonoma Bento: CocoCarina really wanted to try the Chicken Mattone, which is chicken under a brick. The cooking method makes the skin really crispy and doesn't dry out the chicken. We shared this entree so that we could try more things on the menu, like the Pizza Sophia - a pizza with arugula, prosciutto, and shaved parmigiano cheese. The pizza was $16 and the chicken was $22, so it wasn't bad when we split the bill.

Coco Carina: I've heard many good things about the Chicken Mattone, and I thought it was very good. But I must say, I've had better chicken under a brick. The ambiance is so cool, and the food is good, but the main thing you take away is the experience of being at this really cool winery. The service was great, the food was good, the atmosphere was very welcoming. I will definitely be going back again.

Sonoma Bento: Dessert was a cup of chocolate mousse al 'Francis Francis' in a coffee cup. Again, really nice presentation, and the dessert itself was really rich. It was more than enough to share.

Coco Carina: I did find the dessert to be quite delectable. I will probably be ordering this again on my next visit.

Sonoma Bento: While you are there, make sure to take some time to peruse the awesome film memorabilia at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. The Godfather desk is there, the Tucker Car, a boat from Marie Antoinette, Apocolypse Now items, and these creepy yet cool costumes from Dracula.

I would definitely go back for dinner at Rustic. Our service was wonderful, prices were reasonable, the food was good, and the wine was very reasonable. On Tuesdays they have a special dinner/theater kind of event which I would love to try out.

Coco Carina: Ditto to what Sonoma Bento said! Not to mention, there is a full bar right outside of the Rustic restaurant, so if wine and beer is not your thing, you can get something delicious from the bar.

300 Via Archimedes
Geyserville, CA 95441
(707) 857-1485