For Healdsburg -- definitely Barndiva. It is a must on our list of Sonoma restaurants.
Thank you all for your suggestions so far.
A16 was a delight in many ways though I think my expectations brought the actual food experience down a notch. The plates were are good, but not stellar and there was nothing about the meal that I would reorder. Service was, however, outstanding and the wine program delightfully full of wines I wasn't familiar with so it made for a great overall experience. The kitchen moves fast and cleanly and was fun to watch throughout the meal. Started with the calamari salad and the salad of greens with nectarines with ricotta salata. The salads were good, not great. The calamari was very nicely cooked, but the dish was oversalted. The greens had a very bitter dressing that the fruit and cheese did not balance for. Next was the bianci pizza which was not as flavorful as I hoped for and the crust was so soft as to be distracting for the experience. It might have been easier for me to just roll it up and eat it then even try to fold it into something manageable. The bucatini with pesto was fun and interesting with the different components of almonds, dried tomatoes and mint. Sides of beans both white and green were heavy, overcooked and underwhelming. I was too too full to get to the budino which I will make sure to have next time when I check them out after the remodel.
Restaurant B might have been a better experience is the kitchen staff hadn't been standing around and talking the whole time. There were maybe 8 tables, only a couple people at the bar and lots of wood oven action which is hidden behind one of the best designed small bars I've seen in a while. It was hard to take the kitchen seriously since there just wasn't any work going on and the bartender never once looked at my face - just down at the bar every single time. So I ordered a couple things and a glass of wine and left quickly without really enjoying the experience.
nopa was probably the best dining experience I've had in SF in a long while. Sadly, it wasn't at the chef's counter as there were four of us that wanted a conversation, but what a fun kitchen to look at! Cauliflower in romesco, baked white beans, and little fried fish were the highlights and I would order each dish again. The cauliflower was perfectly cooked and the romesco tasty if not the best I've had. Beans were soft and plump but held their character and flavor with fresh tomatoes and oregano warming up the dish while a bit of feta provided welcome tang. The fried fish were nothing more than crunchy popcorn goodness that when dipped in aoili made it an addictive treat. Cheese was presented with flair and taste with honey and fruit and each dessert plate was a composition of three complimentary flavors though the ice cream soda with pound cake and the earl grey shortbread were the standouts. I will return again and again and again.
I will definitely add to this thread as I continue to explore these restaurants. Thanks for all the ideas!
B Restaurant & Bar
I don't mean Andalu, where you see the cooks chugging away in a tiny space in the back corner.
Can you help me build my list beyong these examples? I promise to share my dining experiences at each place as I watch those cooks work!
Lark Creek Steak