Friday, May 3, 2013


Long time, no blog! Sorry about that. The good news is that there are tons of great new restaurants to introduce you to, so Coco and I are back to our old tricks, and some new tricks as well. :)

SonomaBento: Belly Left Coast Kitchen And Tap Room is a new spot (taking over the old Checkers location) on Fourth Street in downtown Santa Rosa. The chef/owner has been the Tour Chef for acts such as Motley Crue, KISS, and Linkin Park. Any place named after pork products already gets high marks in my book. Coco and I met to try some of their dishes and see if the late afternoon and evening crowds were onto something at this new eatery.

Coco Carina: What a wonderful addition to the Downtown Santa Rosa foodie scene! First off, the atmosphere inside of Belly: Left Coast Kitchen is great! There is limited seating outside, either at tables or bar style.  One of the outside bars actually faces the inside of the restaurant so you can still enjoy being outside on a nice day but still watch the game on TV.  They have two family-style tables set up in the middle of the restaurant, a nice long bar and smaller tables against the walls.  Also, occasionally they feature live music... and live music makes everything better!  Well... most of the time.

K... now let's get down to the important stuff... THE FOOD!!!

They offer a nice menu with lots of choices that are either great for sharing or great for consuming every last piece of delectableness to yourself.  When we went to Belly we decided we wanted to try as much as we could so we each picked a couple of items and shared. We decided on: The Crab Cake, The Seared Ahi Tuna, The Beet Salad, The Crispy Pork Belly and then we finished it all off with dessert.

SonomaBento: Our first dish was a roasted beet salad with goat cheese, toasted almond slivers, arugula, and micro greens. This was a well balanced salad and very generous portion size ($8). I also like the fact that there were different colors of beets in the salad.

Coco Carina: The Beet Salad - I think even a person who doesn't like beets would like this salad.  It had yummy feta cheese and tomatoes mixed in with the salad and different colored beets.  It was a beautiful presentation and the taste matched.  This was a pretty big salad and there were still some left by the time we were done with our meal.  So again, you're getting a good bang for your buck.

SonomaBento: We also tried the Line Caught Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer, which was gorgeous to look at and had well balanced flavors. The dish came with diced pineapple, and the fish rested on dollops of pureed avocado. It was both rich and refreshing. ($12)

Coco Carina: The Tuna with avocado and Pineapple Salsa was so delicious!  The Ahi was fresh and paired nicely with the avocado puree and pineapple salsa.  Normally I am not the biggest fan of pineapple, but the pairing of all three was a really nice, refreshing and tasty!  I could eat this whole dish to myself!

SonomaBento: The crab cake was a knock out! Our friend Jennifer was also with us at this lunch, so we split all of our dishes three ways and this crab cake was big enough for all of us to have satisfying bites. The Local Dungeness Crab Cake with Salad and Sherry Dijon Aioli ($15) also had a bed of lettuce and pomegranate arils. The crab was moist and there was not too much filler in the cake.

Coco Carina: The Crab Cake was served over a watercress salad - yet another winner here.  This dish was so good!  I've had many crab cakes before and this one is by far my favorite.  If you're planning on sharing, know that it's one big crab cake, not multiple, but you definitely get your money's worth.  The crab meat was nicely shredded and had hints of lemon, it was the perfect amount of crunchy and paired great with the slight bitterness of the watercress salad underneath.

SonomaBento: You can't eat at Belly without trying some pork, so we opted for the Crispy Braised Pork Belly ($20). It was served with roasted fingerling potatoes, sauteed chard, and a delicious hoisin glaze. This was A LOT of pork belly. It was more than enough for the three of us. 

Coco Carina: The Pork Belly - Oh man... what can I not say about the pork belly.  Holy bagezzness - no that's not a word but I had to make up a word for how good this pork belly was.  I mean, so delicious.  There's really no words.  It was presented with two BIG pieces of pork on a bed of cooked and chopped rainbow chard and some rosemary fingerling potatoes.  There was a lot of food on the plate to go around, I was happy that there was enough to go back in for seconds after we each took our first share.  If you're a fan of pork, don't skip this dish when visiting Belly, you seriously won't be disappointed.

Dessert? Yes, Please!

SonomaBento: Dessert was an amazing Chocolate Pot de Creme with Coconut Porter Caramel Sauce and these amazing homemade Twix bars ($7). The dessert was not too sweet, and the Twix bars were so much fun to eat. They got a little melty in the sun, but we ate them quickly, so that wasn't an issue. 

Every dish was beautifully presented, and better yet, tasted great. This is definitely a place to put on your list of places to try, and places to frequent.

Coco Carina: Dessert, it's what everyone looks forward to - the topper to the fantastic meal you just had, so it better be good!  Belly doesn't go outrageous on the desserts, which is nice... they focus on flavor and quality rather than quantity.  We decided to order the Chocolate Pot de Creme which came with homemade twix... yes, homemade twix - which were deeeeeelicious!  The pot was sitting on some yummy cream and blueberries which paired nicely with the chocolate inside.  There was just enough for us to each get a few good bites in of the smooth, creamy chocolate goodness.  It was nice because it wasn't too sweet... you can tell they used the real stuff, not the over-processed chocolate you find other places.

SonomaBento: I haven't eaten at the bar yet, but it has lots of room for people to belly up! (Pun intended)

Coco Carina: Beverages - They have an extensive beer menu at Belly and a nice little wine list too.  Their wine list is not nearly as big as their beer list, but they do have some nice good quality wines to choose from.  For the beer lovers, I think they will be really happy to find the Belly serves up some harder to find beers, such as Ninkasi, Goose Island, Allagash and way more.  They have 26 beers on tap and 25 in the bottle.  If you're a beer lover, you're bound to be pleased with their selection.  Currently they serve only beer and wine but word on the street is that they are going to start offering other drinks made with rice vodka. Everything at Belly that I have tried out so far has been exceptional.  The staff is nice and attentive, the prices are good, and the location is perfect.  Do you and your tastebuds a favor and give Belly a try the next time you decide to go out to eat in Downtown Santa Rosa.

I love this kid, his dad was telling him to photobomb us. LOL 

523 4th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 526-5787

Friday, August 26, 2011


Sonoma Bento: CocoCarina and I decided to head north to Healdsburg this time. I suggested either Shimo or Spoonbar. I've been to Shimo (and LOVED it), so Coco said we should try a place that was new to both of us. I know that Scott Beattie is the mixologist there, and I have been wanting to try his special artisinal cocktails ever since I first heard of the Huck Yu cocktail he created for Cyrus.

CocoCarina: I'm always down for a good cocktail, so when Sonoma Bento told me about Scott Beattie and his amazing alcoholic concoctions of goodness... I was in! Plus, everyone I talked to about Spoonbar said we HAVE to go there. So we did!

Sonoma Bento: Spoonbar has a fun wine/drinks menu. We skipped past the wine entirely in order to try out specialty cocktails. We also ordered two of the items from the small bites menu to share while we figured out what main dishes to get.

CocoCarina: Yeah, we know what wines are all about so we decided to go straight for the specialty drinks... there were so many to choose from! I asked our waiter for a delectably sweet and salty beverage. Luckily I thoroughly enjoyed his choice... La Nuit du Maroc - and so fun to say too!

Sonoma Bento: I did have some questions about one of the menu items, so I asked our waiter what "fresh scamorza" was, as it was listed as an ingredient with one of the pasta dishes. He hesitantly said it was a sauce. When I waited for him to elaborate on what kind of sauce it might be, he said, "Tomatoes, onions, you know... it's good." Hmmm. He didn't seem too confident, so I decided to get something else. After some research today, I discovered that scamorza is not a sauce, rather an italian cheese. I think it's kind of odd that he would make something up, instead of just saying he didn't know and would find out from the chef. This happened again later in the evening.

CocoCarina: Yeah, our waiter didn't seem to know too much. Even though I was happy with his suggestion of what cocktail I should try, I honestly think it was just a lucky shot in the dark on his part. He pretty much referred to every cocktail on the list as "yeah, ya know... they're all good". Thanks buddy! Really informative. I'd hate to see him try to bluff in a game of poker.

Sonoma Bento: The small bites we ordered were mozzarella balls marinated in crispy prosciutto, and crispy stuffed olives. Both tasted fine to me, although it was a bit weird at first to bite into a hot olive. I loved the face CocoCarina made when she asked me what the olives were stuffed with, and I said it was probably pâté. When I assured her that pâté was probably not made from cows, rather goose or duck liver, she was fine with that. Coco, you are funny.

CocoCarina: Haha... well, that's why I go out and eat with Sonoma Bento... so she can tell me all about these foods I've never tried before! The olives were good, but maybe a bit too salty. I loved the mozzarella balls and actually liked eating the mozzarella balls with the olives... it made for a tasty treat!

Sonoma Bento: Our drinks arrived after our small bites were gone, which is too bad because it would have been fun to have them together. But I do understand that it can take longer to make a complicated cocktail. Coco's drink was lovely with a little flower and in a perfect small cocktail glass.

CocoCarina: Yes, my La Nuit du Maroc was quite delicious! It was made with orange blossom vodka, lime juice, essence of cardamom, and local pomegranate juice - oh. so. yummy! Sonoma Bento's cocktail was decorated with a fun flower too... I think they must have been edible flowers... but no, that's not my thing. So I just left the flower alone and drank the delicious beverage.

Sonoma Bento: I loved my drink, which was called a Dark n' Stormy. It is a rum based drink with lime juice, ginger essence, bitters, and ginger beer. The presentation was beautiful and the drink was well balanced and refreshing. You can order these by the pitcher (5 drinks worth) and it is probably a good idea that I didn't tell Coco that, since we may have had to sleep in her car if we had ordered pitchers.

CocoCarina: Yeah, Sonoma Bento told me we could order by the pitcher AFTER we already ordered! But like she said, it was probably best not to order a pitcher or we would have had to stumble back to my car and sleep uncomfortably - haha. Either way, I was very satisfied with my sweet, citrusy, delicious drink!

Sonoma Bento: We had seats along the sidewalk. Spoonbar has sliding glass doors that they open up onto the street when the weather is nice. It's fun to people watch.

CocoCarina: I actually loved where we were sitting! It was a beautiful day and even when the sun went down the weather was still nice enough to not wear a jacket. It was great people watching... we even saw a guy walk by with a bird on his hand... random!

Sonoma Bento: I ordered the salmon with fresh pea cream, wild mushrooms, broccoli di ciccio, and rhubarb chutney for $20. It was ok, but really didn't blow me away. I think that the rhubarb chutney (which was too sweet, but nicely spicy) should have been served on top of the salmon, because the salmon was better when I topped bites of it with the chutney. Otherwise, this dish was kind of blah.

CocoCarina: Sonoma Bento shared some of her salmon with me, unfortunately at the first attempt, she dropped some on the table... you'll hear more about that later. I've only tried salmon a couple of other times, both times though I enjoyed it... this time however... I could have passed. I don't know why, but it didn't taste that great. It was a bit too fishy and you really needed the chutney to make it taste somewhat pleasurable.

Sonoma Bento: CocoCarina ordered the moorish style brick chicken with wild fennel, padron peppers, and couscous for $19. It looked like a hot mess when it arrived, and I had to turn it around a bit to try to get a good angle for the picture. Coco let me try a bite of the chicken and I was disappointed. It was tough and not juicy at all. It was even kind of hard to cut through. I did get to snag two of her padron peppers (which I love!) and was happy that my second padron had some kick. I rarely get padrons that are spicy.

CocoCarina: The chicken wasn't that great. As Sonoma Bento said, it was not juicy... at all, and it was very difficult to cut through. The couscous was good, but I could get just as good of couscous coming out of a box I paid $3 for at a grocery store. Needless to say, I wasn't that thrilled with my meal. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either.

Sonoma Bento: Coco wanted fries, so we got the fries with aioli. They were fine, but I think the aioli had been in the little sauce container for a while. It had a bit of a skin on it.

CocoCarina: I love fries! How could we not order them! They were good and crispy... but again, nothing amazing. Not even the sauces.

Sonoma Bento: And now we come to the story of Simon the Salmon. I offered Coco a bite of my salmon, and as I was transferring this bite to her plate, it slipped off my fork and landed on the table. Coco has germ issues, so I cut another bite for her and left this bite of salmon on the table. When our waiter came by to clear our drink glasses, he left the bite of salmon on the table. Then when a busser came by to clear our plates, he also left the salmon there. Our waiter came back to ask if we wanted more drinks or dessert, and again, failed to pick up the piece of salmon. In all, this little chunk of salmon was ignored about 7 times by 2 different wait staff. We felt so sorry for the salmon, that we named him Simon. For all we know, Simon's still waiting to be picked up.

CocoCarina: Haha... so yes, now you get to hear all about the dropped piece of salmon on the table. It was kind of hilarious because both the busser and the waiter acted like the piece of salmon had teeth and was going to bite them if they got near it. Seriously?! I've never gone to a nice restaurant, or even to a mediocre restaurant like Chili's before and had a waiter or busser act like that. It was weird, but kind of funny... at least we can find humor in bad service.

Sonoma Bento: Now this is just kind of funny. After looking at the dessert menu and not seeing anything enticing, Coco and I decided to order drinks for dessert. I was trying to decide whether to get the provocatively named Corpse Reviver #2, or the Cucumber Collins. I asked our waiter what one of the ingredients was, namely "Cocchi Americano." He said it was a fruit, then elaborated that it was a Japanese citrus and since it was grown here, that's why it was called 'Americano'. Really, dude? Ok, I can smell bullshit, and that's exactly what it was. Cocchi Americano is in fact an italian aperitif, similar to Vermouth. What the hell?!? Why not just admit that you don't know, and go ask the bartender? The guy who created the damn drink menu was over in the bar, it's not like it would be hard to figure out what the ingredient was. So weird. I decided to order the Corpse Reviver #2 anyway. I like to live dangerously.

CocoCarina: Again, I never want to see this waiter's Poker Face... he would completely lose. I tried a taste of her Corpse Reviver #2, how could I not with a name like that and boy did it live up to it's name. One little sip was good for me!

Sonoma Bento: I didn't get a chance to try Coco's second cocktail, the Geisha. It sure did look pretty. Even next to poor little Simon.

CocoCarina: I decided to try the Geisha which was made with Buddah's Hand Citron vodka, gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, coconut milk, dehydrated pineapple chip, cinnamon, nutmeg - the drink was good, but I liked my first beverage much better. This one was a bit difficult to finish, but it was good. If I ever go to Spoonbar again I'll order my first drink again La Nuit du Maroc because it was so enjoyable!

Sonoma Bento: My 'dessert cocktail' packed quite a punch! The Corpse Reviver #2 contains gin, an italian aperitif, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and absinthe. The first sip was a doozy, but once I had the flavor down, it was really nice. I like Pernod and other anise flavored drinks, so this was really refreshing. I think I prefered my first cocktail, but this one was really good too.

Sonoma Bento: Ultimately this is a place to go for a well made cocktail. It is not a place to go for dinner. The wait service was either bizarre (making up ingredients?!) or way too slow. After we had our dessert drinks, it took about 25 minutes to get the bill. It was fun to chat with Coco, so I don't mind so much, but they could have dropped off the bill much sooner. And for the price of the dishes, I would expect something much better than what we got. The decor is nice, and it is fun to sit on the corner and watch people go by.

CocoCarina: I agree with Sonoma Bento. I would only come here again for the cocktails and maybe a couple of appetizers. The service wasn't great and neither was the food. I did enjoy the atmosphere and sitting in the window by the sidewalk, but it isn't work paying good money for not so good food. However, the cocktails... maybe next time we'll have to get a pitcher as they are Spoonbar's saving grace.

219 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433-7222

Dinner 5pm-11pm, Nightly
Lunch Noon-5pm, Thurs-Mon
Brunch Sat and Sun 11:30am-4pm

Monday, August 8, 2011

Petite Syrah

Sonoma Bento: I have been wanting to visit and review this restaurant for some time now, but Carina (traitor) decided to get another job, and we have been working with schedules trying to plan out our next restaurant adventure. Petite Syrah used to be Syrah Bistro, but underwent a transformation to a small plates format in April 2011. To be honest, I had only visited Syrah Bistro maybe twice before it made the transition. I work in radio: I'm poor. But chef owner Josh Silvers (disclosure: I work with Josh on a monthly cooking show called Cooking In Sonoma on KSRO 1350AM) wanted to change things up, so he closed the restaurant for a few weeks and then reopened at the end of April. Josh likes small plates, and he also understands that it is more economical for people to pay 5 to 15 bucks for a plate to share, trying lots of different things, than spending 30 plus per plate. I think it's a great move. Plus, as you will see, these plates are not really small. They are more like middle sized portions.

Coco Carina: I was so excited when Sonoma Bento suggested we go to Petite Syrah for our next dining out adventure. She's right, it's been a while, I am a traitor and left for another job, and our schedules are crazy... but we made it work and boy am I glad we did! When I go out to eat I like to try as much as I can, so small plates of a variety of dishes to share as opposed to one dish to yourself is my kind of style! Don't let the small dishes scare you, we definitely did not leave hungry.

Smashed potatoes with orange aioli

Sonoma Bento: I have to also give major props to Jamil Peden, Chef de Cuisine at Petite Syrah. He incorporates Japanese flavors and styles into his dishes, which as a bento fanatic, is very exciting to see. When you are seated at Petite Syrah, you are offered still or sparkling water, and a complimentary appetizer of sweet potato chips with a yogurt dipping sauce. The dipping sauce has chinese five spice powder in it, yum. We nibbled on these while we figured out which things to order.

Coco Carina: The sweet potato chips with the dipping sauce were a nice little appetizer to keep your hunger at bay while you decided on and contemplated between the many delectable dishes available. Everything sounded so good. For starters we decided to get some wine, Sonoma Bento got a Prosecco while I decided on a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Food Paparazzi!

Sonoma Bento: On previous visits I have tried the crispy pork belly with apple and caramel sauce. It's pretty freaking amazing, so I had to order that. I wanted to try the albacore tataki, since Jamil had made another tataki dish during our last Cooking In Sonoma show. I also love the fried squash blossoms, so I chose that one too. Despite eating at this restaurant at least 5 times since it has reopened as Petite Syrah, I had yet to order dessert. I just get so carried away trying the small plates, that I am too stuffed to order dessert. But Carina insisted. So when Jamil told us about a special Gravenstein Apple cake new to the menu, I knew I would order that. Restaurants throughout the Bay Area are highlighting Gravenstein Apples this month, hoping to encourage people to eat them, and hopefully buy them from local farmers. The Russian River Slow Food site should have a list of participating restaurants, but so far they still have last year's list up.

Coco Carina: I gotta say, I love pork. I tried to not eat it for a while but, seriously, who was I kidding? I need to eat some delicious, yummy, savory pork! Especially when cooked to perfection! Sonoma Bento insisted on ordering the crispy pork belly with caramel sauce and apple on top as well as the fried squash blossoms. I was a little hesitant about the squash blossoms, but was indeed delighted once I took my first bite. That's what I like about eating out with Sonoma Bento, she makes me eat things I wouldn't normally order... and for that I say cheers!

Crispy Pork Belly - it's like a caramel apple with bacon. Yes, please!
Sonoma Bento: If you can swing it (and are a party of two), reserve the spaces at the bar facing the chefs. Josh, Jamil, Jake Ameral, and Carl (sorry, I didn't catch Carl's last name) are fun to watch and happy to talk about the dishes they make. Jake seemed to be particularly enamoured of the oil poaching machine, which maintains a steady temperature and poaches sea bass until it is perfectly done with a silky texture. I called it the Bass-o-Matic, hardy har har.

Coco Carina: Haha... yes... the Bass-O-Matic! I gotta say, I LOVE the Bass-O-Matic because the Bass was one of my favorite dishes of the night! It was so savory and perfectly complimented by the bread crumbs underneath. I will definitely order it again the next time I visit Petite Syrah. Sonoma Bento and I had such a good time eating at the bar watching the chef's create these amazingly delightful dishes that are sure to put a smile on your face.

Jake shows us a squash blossom right before he brutally batters and fries it for our pleasure. What an animal!
Sonoma Bento: I was so glad that Carina ordered the potatoes. Dang, they were tasty. Fingerlings are boiled, lightly smashed, then deep fried. Wonderful textures, plus they add fried parsley on top and the auditory frenzy of fresh parsley in a fryer is a kick. Though the menu changes seasonally, I think this one will stay on the menu for a while since it is so damn good.

Coco Carina: Ummmm... yes, those potatoes were SO delicious! I think I would eat them every day if I could. They were perfectly fried and the orange aioli sauce was the perfect compliment. Seriously, I want to go there now and eat this all over again. It was the perfect dish to start our meal off right!

Tempura squash blossoms with avocado slices, ponzu and togarashi spice.
Sonoma Bento: Can I say, it is good to know people. Since we were having the squash blossoms, Jamil comped us this dish with thinly sliced zucchini, dry jack cheese, parsley, olives, pine nuts, and CornNuts. Yes, CornNuts. It's hilarious and tasty. Both Carina and I were saying that the last time we had CornNuts was when we were 12, so it was a little bit of nostalgia. Very clever.

Coco Carina: Very clever indeed. The smokey, saltiness of the CornNuts added great flavor to the fresh zucchini salad. It was hilarious, because it took us a while to get over the fact that we were eating CornNuts at this amazing restaurant - so clever and such a great thing to spark a fun conversation!

Fresh Zucchini salad with parsley, percorino cheese, olives, pine nuts and CornNuts.
Sonoma Bento: The albacore tataki with fennel, watermelon, and sea beans was my favorite dish of the evening. It was well balanced, cool, lovely to look at, and very satisfying. I was curious about sea beans, as I have seen them included in bento boxes before. This was my first time trying them and I was happy to find that they weren't seaweed-y as I expected they might be. You should definitely try this dish!

Coco Carina: I liked this dish as well, I'm relatively new to sea food and tuna was one of the first that I was exposed to and liked! The tuna was perfectly prepared with a nice crispy outside layer topped with the fun sea beans, refreshing watermelon, fennel and a yummy togarashi spice. I definitely recommend trying it once you decide to go to Petite Syrah.

Albacore Tataki with shaved fennel, watermelon, sea beans, and togarashi spice.

Jake and Jamil work hard in the open portion of the kitchen at Petite Syrah
Sonoma Bento: I mentioned before how much Jake loved his Bass-o-Matic oil poaching machine, and after going on and on about how amazing it was at cooking fish, he put together this plate for us on the house. (Woot!) It's oil poached sea bass with basil bread crumbs, chiffonade basil, and cherry tomatoes (kind of like a panzanella salad, but with crispier bread), and a salad of zucchini, olives, and rehydrated dried apricots topped with micro basil. The plate is dotted with basil oil. We heart this dish!

Coco Carina: Big-time heart this dish! As I mentioned before this was one of my favorite dishes of the night... so thanks so much to Jake for hooking us up! Seriously, when you go to eat at Petite Syrah, you must order this dish. Sooooooooooooo yummy!

Sonoma Bento: Ok, I have to admit, I had a REALLY bad experience with gnocchi the first time I tried it and it completely turned me off of the stuff. It's kind of like when you have your first really bad hangover from a certain liquor, and just the smell of it will turn your stomach. My first gnocchi experience wasn't that bad, but it was a disgusting pasty mass of yuckiness. So I figured I would take a polite bite and let Carina eat the rest. Holy dumplings, this was good! Potato Gnocchi with cauliflower, broccoli, pine nuts, cheese, and a smear of lemon curd. You mix everything together, and dig in. It was aromatic and light, not the glutinous mass that I feared. My gnocchi nightmare monsters can go back under the bed to hide.

Coco Carina: Oh, so delicious! I've had my fair share of perfectly fluffy delightful gnocchi, so my standards are pretty high when eating this traditional Italian dish... but I must say I was not disappointed. Actually, I was quite delighted and I didnt' want to share! This dish also ranked really high on my lift of top dishes of the night, try it... you won't regret it.

Gnocchi with cauliflower, broccoli, cheese, pine nuts, and lemon curd
Sonoma Bento: Although I was already full, especially with the extra dishes we had been treated to, I was very excited to try the dessert. The upcoming Gravenstein Apple Fair is my favorite fair of the year, and I am so happy to see restaurants supporting this fruit. The cake was eggy, but not too heavy, the foam was fun, the ice cream tangy, and the nuts on the bottom of the ice cream kind of made me think of a sundae (very cool), but the part of the dish that surprised me and made it come together was the thyme. Savory and sweet, really balanced. Jamil says this will only be on the menu for about 3 weeks, so GO ORDER IT!

Coco Carina: I got a little flack for ordering the typical dish, but what can I say... I love chocolate!!! Plus, I knew I could steal a few bites of Sonoma Bento's apple desert... win-win for me! And on top of that we got a nice little sample of a melon sorbet which was perfectly refreshing and quite complimentary to my chocolate dessert. I tried Sonoma Bento's apple cake with the foam and I must say, it was quite yummy and very well balanced, I'm glad she let me try it! I may have to go back sooner than later to get an order for myself!

Gravenstein Apple cake with cider-thyme foam, buttermilk ice cream, and hazelnuts

Sonoma Bento: I didn't try Carina's dessert, but I do have to mention that the chefs mocked her for ordering this. Ha ha! That's alright, Coco. I know you are taking babysteps and I am very proud of how adventurous you have become. ;-)

Chocolate Puddle Cake

CocoCarina: The Chocolate Puddle Cake was delish! I don't regret ordering it one bit! Don't hate on the chocolate. :)

Two Happy and Very FULL Girls
Sonoma Bento: The service was great! We had three or four servers keeping an eye on us and checking to see if we needed new glasses of wine or new plates/silverware. Sitting at the bar and interacting with the chefs was very fun. The decor is really relaxing, and there is also room to sit out in the atrium area. The wines by the glass list has enough for you to find something fun, and they do both 3oz and 5.5oz pours, which works well with the smaller portions. The food is some of the best in the county. I love that Petite Syrah is now a place I can go to often, not just for a special occasion, but I have to say I felt very special during our dinner, like a VIP. I told Carina that we should just focus on reviewing Petite Syrah over and over for this blog. That way it would literally be Two Girls, ONE Restaurant. :-)

Coco Carina: This was one of the best experiences Sonoma Bento and I have had on our outings. Everything was perfect from the atmosphere, to the service, to the food and the selection of wines available. I did enjoy that they allowed you to choose between a 3oz and 5.5oz pour - like I said before, I like to sample a variety of things so this allowed me to try two wines. I probably would have tried more, but I didn't want to get too crazy! It was a great experience and I have a feeling this isn't the last time Petite Syrah is going to see Two Girls, One Restaurant!

205 5th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 568-4002

FRIDAY & SATURDAY 11:30am - 10:00pm
SUNDAY 4:30pm - 9:00pm

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