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Luce Report [San Francisco]

Luce is the restaurant in the new Intercontinental Hotel on Howard at Fifth Street. Let's just get this out of the way: it's a terrible location. But don't let that stop you from going to this restaurant; we had one of the best meals we've had in the city. More on that later, but first logistics. We parked catty corner from the hotel in a lot that promises a $10 flat fee, but the machine didn't work. The homeless guy with a gimp said he'd protect the car with his life for $5, even though the sign specifically said not to pay "unauthorized persons". We took him at his word; the car was still there after dinner, as was the homeless guy, so I "tipped" him $3. ($8 for parking in San Francisco is a total bargain; the last time I parked at the W Hotel, it cost me $24 with validation!)

The hotel is designed to defend itself against the very same kind of homeless people we encountered in the parking lot. You have to enter through the main door; there are security people every 10 feet. So this is not a trip for the faint-hearted, including GoingOutAgain, who was beginning to question our last minute decision to try Luce, despite the lack of reviews on Chowhound.

Persevere! The meal was a complete delight for us and the four other tables occupied on a Sunday evening. The wine list was pretty broad, and includes both expensive and inexpensive selections. We decided to try the "Luce" 2004 Montalcino Super Tuscan. This super tuscan is a product of the joint venture between Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi (a beautiful, but not inexpensive bottle at $127). There is some connection between the name of the wine and the name of the restaurant, but I haven't been able to find what it is online after leaving the restaurant.

The chef is a French lady named Dominique Crenn, who must be one of the most creative chefs whose output we've had the pleasure to eat. For instance, GoingOutAgain ordered the Black Ink Trofiette "Carbonara": baby calamari on a pasta soaked in black ink with a poached egg, pancetta, and parmesan cheese with plenty of garlic. Her comment was that there is a tartness that cuts the richness of the egg and pasta. I had the Calamari Brochetta: calamari filled with goat cheese with sprig of rosemary stuck through a small black olive; surrounded on the plate with a tomato chutney, sliced kumquats (possibly pickled), and a fennel slaw. The variety allowed me to combine the elements into different tastes, leading to a remarkable variety from an appetizer. (The whole menu under-describes what you actually get, which is a refreshing change from menus that give you every gory detail and leave nothing to surprise you on the table.)

For entrees, GOA ordered the "Wild-Caught Sea Scallops". The scallops came two ways: three with truffled caviar on a scallop ceviche and three with a bacon tortellini in a Pernod foam, all arranged around an arugula salad of tangerines & cauliflower. The scallop ceviche was an amazing trick to put on top of a grilled scallop; who would have thunk? And the combination of pancetta and scallop was also a pleasant combination.

I ordered the "Niman Ranch Aged Rib Eye Steak". Before the entree arrived, the waitress delivered three salts to give me a chance to decide which one to use to flavor the steak. The steak itself was a filet topped with Medjool dates and braised oxtail with a date-reduction sauce and surrounded by seasonal vegetables. The entree came with a side of polenta bianca, a white polenta fried and accompanied by a gorgonzola dolce latte sauce. The steak itself was perfectly cooked, but the combination of the dates and the sauce and oxtail was an amazing complement, a delicately balanced set of tastes.

Dominique Crenn came out to visit with us twice and I must admit that I was so charmed that I was considering asking her hand in marriage, despite the fact that she wore a wedding ring and my girlfriend was sitting across the table from me. I asked who inspired her and she gave her mother credit, as well as a chef in Brittany, whose first name is Olivier (but enough of the Luce meant I can't remember his last name).

If we can figure out the parking and manage the relatively unwelcoming environment, we plan to make Luce a regular on our itinerary in gastronomic San Francisco.

Sushi Sam's Downhill Warning

Couldn't disagree more. I've been eating at Sushi Sam's for more than six years, most recently twice in the past two weeks at lunchtime at the sushi counter. It's my belief that sushi chefs are defined by their ability to source a broad range of truly fresh fish and few match Sam's ability to do just that. Ariake on Geary in SF is pretty good in that regard too. Zushi Puzzle ranks high. So I don't agree that the standard dishes like kappa and tekka maki and basic fishes like maguro and sake are the measure. If a sushi chef can't get the basics right, then they shouldn't be allowed behind the counter. Great sushi chefs know how to get different kinds of uni, hard to get fishes like sea trout, butterfish, and so forth, and are creative in their presentation of those fishes. Sam's the best at sourcing fish that I've personally encountered.

Maui Banana Bread

I've just got to mention Sara's World Famous Banana Bread. We took the drive to Hana today, down the 52-mile twisty road from Paia to Hana. (If you've been a visitor to Maui, you've probably made this drive.) It rained (since it IS a rain forest). But we stopped to grab a banana bread from one of the 6-8 roadside stands that promise banana bread. The one we happened to stop at featured Sara's World Famous Banana Bread as well as several crafts (hand woven baskets, handmade flutes), pineapples and ready-cut coconuts -- everything on the honor system, since the stand is unattended.

The girlfriend bought back two pieces of the banana bread ($3/slice). I've got to tell you: that was THE best banana bread we've ever had! It deserves to be world famous (hence this post): real slices of banana, pieces of grapefruit, moist bread. And it was warm when we got it -- we must have showed up right after Sara put it out that day.

The stand is at about mile 27.7 of the Hana Road, just before the mile 28 marker on the right side. If you do the Hana Drive, make sure you stop at this one! We stopped on the way back and bought two more slices for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Going to Maui and looking for dinner in Wailea

Just had dinner at HumuHumu at Grand Wailea. Completely unimpressed. Really poor service: Took 10 minutes to seat us in an empty part of the restaurant. Delivered the wrong dishes on the first try. Waiter showed up every 15 minutes or so, apparently on his own schedule rather than ours. One of those menus that tries to dress up what it really is, like calling Surf & Turf "Spiny Lobster and Mahi Mahi". After a fabulous dinner at Spago at Four Season (right next door) last night, HumuHumu didn't make the cut.

Going to Maui and looking for dinner in Wailea

We're at the Grand Wailea now. Haven't gone to Humuhumu (see TMWeddlle reply above) but we did eat at Kimcha, the sushi restaurant and enjoyed the sashimi and sushi. Fresh. One downside was that the place was like a refrigerator. Apparently is always over airconditioned, so they offer happy coats to anyone who asks to help ward off the cold. (And we did Mama's Fish House today; had a great meal but it's really hard to define as in Wailea, since it's at least 30 and more likely a 45 minute drive.)

Albuquerque ...

LilyGirl: Where did you go and is it worth following you? I have a one-shot dinner opportunity in ABQ on Wednesday evening.

Jan 20, 2007
StewartsDinDin in Southwest

Report on Presidio Social Club

We had dinner at Presidio Social Club Saturday evening and had an excellent time, although it's clear the restaurant (open four nights at that time) is still working on its systems.

There were four of us. One ordered pan-seared whole trout and had to leave early, after reporting that the trout was tasty and well seared. (I also tasted and confirmed.) Among the other three of us, we had the following appetizers: chopped liver (excellent but not as good as GoingOutAgain's Aunt Lilly's); butter lettuce salad (eh, what can you say); and grilled and butterflied sardines with lemon rinds and pine nuts (excellent, very strong as expected). And the following entrees: roasted chicken (crispy skin, tasty, well seasoned); swordfish special (okay but nothing special); and porterhouse porkchop (excellent and well seasoned). We disagree with a Yelp review that said the spinach was bland; I liked the spinach a lot. Most interesting was: One of us ordered liver and onions and the kitchen has declined to serve it yet, because they don't feel they have got it right for customers yet.

We had excellent cosmos (and ended up with two because the bar made two by mistaked) but so-so margaritas. Wine list is excellent and very inexpensive, most $30-50 for the reds. We loved the chocolate cupcakes and an almond gateau which was remarkable.

Really interesting, great atmosphere: former Army barracks (and thrift store) that has been renvoated into a kind of retro diner and dining room. The bar looks like an old dinner with spinning seats. The dining room is one big room with nice wooden tables and tall ceiling. I live a few blocks away and will be a regular.

Good Eggs Benedict in San Francisco?

My son tried the Marco Polo at Home Plate (Lombard Street in Marina) this morning, which is a creative version of eggs benedict. He said the hollandaise sauce was almost as good as mine. I tasted it and agreed! :-)

La Terrasse in The Presidio

I live in The Presidio, so might be biased toward having a comfortable, civilized French bistro within three minutes walking distance (sort of 7-8 blocks in the normal part of the city). But I'm very happy to have had dinner, lunch and a couple of coffees at La Terrasse [ but the sample menu there is not accurate] since it opened a week ago, the second of three new restaurants opening in The Presidio this winter (the others being Pres A Vis and The Presidio Social Club).

Dinner: I started with seared foie gras (in part because I've heard that someone is proposing to ban in California!), which was as good as any I've had. GoingOutAgain had a seared scallop salad with lobster and fennel, which she rated as great. For entrees, I had the rack of lamb with a tomato confit, which was an excellent combination and very tasty. GOA had roasted squab, which she thought was good: I tasted it and thought it a bit bland but squab usually isn't mouth-blowing. For desert, she had a chocolate pudding, which she and I thought was excellent (and I resisted at lunch today!) and I had a surprise (not on the menu) roasted pear cold and soaked in ice wine, which was very interesting. We had a bottle of Benton Lane pinot noir from Willamette Valley (with a twist off top!) that was excellent and "only" $43.

Lunch: Today, I stopped for lunch after a long walk around Crissey Field. Had the cream of potato and garlic soup, which was wonderful. Then the (also not on the menu) pan seared whole golden trout stuffed with sauteed spinach and shallots; mon dieu! Followed by an excellent double espresso. As I said, very civilized.

Here's the tricky part: La Terrasse is physically located in what's prosaically known as the Transit Center on the Main Post of The Presidio. Most people still don't really know that The Presidio is now open to the public, much less have figured out where the Main Post is and how to get there. La Terrasse will do fine from the breakfast and lunch trade from the people who live there (about 2500) and work on the Main Post (quite a few establishments, both for and non profit, now ring the old parade ground). But the only way the dinner hours will surive is if it's a destination spot and not just a neighborhood bistro. You can tell from the menu items I've described, that they're trying hard to be distinct.

The bistro is a joint venture between Curbside (two restaurants on Fillmore and on Lombard right outside The Presido) and Chez Spencer. Pretty good heritage for establishing that distinction. Worth giving it a try, perhaps after the new year when they've got their systems worked out and are more confident in their service.

Also a mini-review in the SF Chronicle today, which might explain why the restaurant was busy at lunch:

If you had to visit just one winery in Napa Valley, which would it be?

Del Dotto Vineyards
Good wine, great tour

Santa Fe Report in several parts, Part Three: Tulips

Originally, we had a reservation at La Casa Sena, one of my favorites, and not just for the wine list (one of the best in Santa Fe). But two different sets of people raved about Tulips, so we switched. We've heard that the original husband-wife team split and that, post-split, the husband -- now sole owner -- has become more adventurous. We can confirm this.

I had the Buffalo Chile Relleno and Black Angus Beef Tenderloin. (Elk is SO old in Santa Fe! Particularly when it comes from New Zealand.) The Relleno was great: a mango salsa with chipotle and creme fraiche. Spicy and crispy. The tenderloin was perfectly cooked and the combination of the ricotta ravioli with broccoli and a mushroom cream just nailed it.

The GF had the "Vietnamese Chilled Green Chile Lobster Springrolls" with a passion fruit sauce. Sweet but sprightly. Probably better with a white wine, but we tried a really excellent Testarossa Syrah from the Santa Lucia Highlands, near Santa Barbara. She had a main course not on the menu, center cut pork chop with pineapple salsa, garlic mashed potatoes and grilled bok choy. The mashed potatoes matched the pork perfectly; the bok choy seemed like filler but was fine.

Desserts: Applejack tart with jalapeno and vanilla ice cream that the GF devoured. And a plum custard pie that sounds boring but was divine, especially matched with the Kracher dessert wine, an ice wine from Austria.

Nota bene: We had lunch at Zia Diner, which is a great local hangout. The GF was unhappy with both the sweet potato fries and the portabello mushroom burger. I had turkey vegetable soup and a salad with smoked chicken and candied walnuts which I enjoyed.

Aug 27, 2006
StewartsDinDin in Southwest

Santa Fe Report in several parts, Part Two

Yes, there is a tent for the patio, It didn't rain while we were there, but it does seem adequate. The problem would be in winter when it's too cold to sit outside, regardless of precipitation. You'll have a fine time on your reservation.

Aug 27, 2006
StewartsDinDin in Southwest

Embedding URLs and formatting text

I'm sure this has been suggested. but I'm posting as feedback for future revisions. It would be very nice to allow URLs to be embedded in the way that Typepad (and other blogs) allow, so that the name of a restaurant gets highlighted and clickable once the URL has been attached. And it would be lovely to be able to format text with bold, italic, and so forth while posting...

Aug 26, 2006
StewartsDinDin in Site Talk

Santa Fe Report in several parts, Part Two

Since posting the original "Santa Fe Report in several parts" a few days ago, we've been to Tesuque Village Market (TVM) again, Aqua Santa, and Joseph's Table in Taos.

TVM: It has changed hands, but the food is as good, possibly better than before. My GF had the blue corn pancakes with blueberries and bananas embedded and her face glowed. I sampled and agreed. Her huevos rancheros and my breakfast burrito the last time both met expectations: TVM is an excellent place for a good breakfast, the New York Times (and Wall Street Journal), and coffee. They've added an espresso machine so you can also have a (non-fat) latte.

Aqua Santa: I've been driving past this place on Alameda just below Guadalupe for years and always thought it was some sort of tiny deli place. Turns out to be a first-class, locally-famous-chef restaurant (Brian Knox, ex-Cafe Escalera, which I never made it to before it closed in 1996). It wasn't a great start because this is one of those restaurants that won't seat you until everyone arrives. The waiter who greeted us was barely friendly, so we were concerned the outdoor patio would fill up and the inside (all three tables) was hot and stuffy. But our friends arrived and we did get a table outside, very crowded. After that, the food made it all worthwhile.

I had an arugula and fig salad with the special option that night of quail legs added. Don't remember the dressing (I should write this stuff down!) but it was as good as I've had. I had the roast quail stuffed with mushrooms and sausage, also excellent. GF had pan fried oysters on a bed of greens and "Georgia" pan-fried shrimp. This occasioned much conversation since none of us remember how Georgia would have shrimp; excellent nonetheless. Our companions had Aqua Ceasar salad, being a signature starter for the restaurant, and confirmed that it was terrific. We didn't order dessert, but for some reason the owner decided we were worthy of all three on the menu (perhaps because no one had enough room to order dessert and he needed to unload them, but we suspect that he was charmed by the lady half of our companions). We were overhwelmed trying enough of the desserts to honor his generosity. The panna cotta with bittersweet chocolate was divine. I didn't try the strawberry shortcake, but the third dessert, a tarte with filling that we can no longer remember, was also really good.

We had a bottle of Merry Edwards' sauvignon blanc. It was $75, possibly the most expensive sauvignon blanc we've encountered. I'm a major fan of Merry Edwards' pinot noirs, so we ordered it. It was very good, but it is possible to find very good sauvignon blancs for a lot less moulah!

Joseph's Table ( This is a very interesting restaurant inside the Hotel La Fonda in Taos Plaza in Taos, NM, about 90 minutes north of Santa Fe. We've been before and just wandered into town last night after fishing on the San Juan River and managed to get a table. The Joseph is a fellow named Joseph Wrede and the restaurant's motto is "The World is Our Country, Cooking Good Food Our Religion, Organic & Wild Our Mission".

Kind of pretentious but we've liked everything we ordered here. I had a "Taos Mountain King Bolete Soup", which is based on a type of mushroom called the King Bolete ( The waiter, Carlos, said that it's rare you can get this kind of mushroom because they're usually only available a few days a year. But this year, there's been tremendous rain in New Mexico and they've had a fabulous season for the King Bolete. How could I NOT have that! The soup was based on a relatively bland broth, presumably to focus on the flavor of the mushroom, which was -- a mushroom. Anyway, I can now say I've had King Bolete Soup!

I had a dish described as "Spice Rubbed Grilled Wild Sockeye Salmon With Tomato Chanterelle Cream Sauce and Potato Hash". The fish itself was great, the spices were a real complement to the fish, and the underlying potato hash and tomato sauce just rounded out the whole thing. I thoroughly enjoyed the dish.

My GF had three starters for her whole meal, starting with "Polenta Fries & Grilled Radicchio with Gorgonzola Creme". Wow! I was tempted to eat the whole thing, but had to save room for my salmon (and GF took care of it anyway). She then had a "Lobster Tamales with Roasted Corn Puree & Golden Trout Caviar" as well as "Tuna Carpaccio with Horseradish Aoli & Wasabi Roe" for her main. She reported that the Lobster Tamale was unexpectedly sweet (since you expect something called a tamale to be spicy), but still delicious. We both agreed that the tuna was as expected and the Aoli&Roe condiment was too sharp as an addition.

We shared Panna Cotta with honey and blue and black berries. Most excellent. And I'll observe that the wine list was extensive and 95% below $50 a bottle, which I thought was impressive. We had a Truchard Roussane ($38) from Napa that was excellent in itself and as a complement to our choices. The waiter was helpful and attentive; the junior staff was mainly clueless but numerous.

Aug 26, 2006
StewartsDinDin in Southwest

Santa Fe update, please?

See my GF's report, posted a few minutes after your request!

And I do love Bumble Bee, either one on Guadalupe or on Cerrilos. Particularly enamored of the Burrito Del Norte.

Aug 26, 2006
StewartsDinDin in Southwest

Santa Fe Report in several parts

Being the aforementioned BF, I need to add my own notes:

I had the duck confit at O'Keeffe Cafe and it was excellent. We had a $150 bottle of wine for $75, which made it seem like a steal. There's also a 15% discount for locals (defined as holders of a NM drivers license) at both O'Keeffe and Pranzo Grill on Wednesdays.

I love Shohko generally and am a regular at the sushi bar in front of Kuni-san. But the restaurant was dirty, disorganized, and out of 4-5 featured items. With neither Uni nor Toro nor Aji in its seasonal selection, we ended up ordering the "usual" stuff. I think I'll stick to the sushi bar at lunch on any day but Monday.

The specific margarita we ordered at Maria's New Mexican Kitchen was the Elizabeth Two with combination of Grande Marnier and Countreau as well as Tesoro handmade tequila. Our friend ordered the Free Range, made with mezcal instead of tequila for a very different taste, what he called kind of "country". I've had the chile rellenos every time I've gone to Maria's and think that the relleno are just as high quality as the margaritas and the guac (as referred to in other posts as the only reason to go to Maria's).

The Plaza messed up our order and basically forgot to bring my Huevos con Nopalitos. They were so embarrassed they comped the dish. I would have paid, it was so good. They were first class in dealing with their mistake.

We also went to Tesuque Village Market for breakfast yesterday. The place has been completely renovated with a different seating arrangement and a new stand-up bar. The food seemed to be from the same kitchen and just as good as before, but the place bears watching since it may not meet the expectations previously set.

Aug 23, 2006
StewartsDinDin in Southwest

Good Value for Money Restaurant in San Mateo County?

Piacere in San Carlos or Mistral in Redwood Shores are good and not overly expensive. But they aren't exactly a bargain. It's been 18 months since I moved into San Francisco (how short memory is); I used to like Ciao Amore at 788 Laurel St in San Carlos, although I wouldn't say that it qualifies as a Chowhound kind of place. Southern Italian comfort food, fun staff and people, spills out on to the street at night.

Peninsula recommendations for wedding anniversary

For a wedding anniversary, I'd go for Viognier in San Mateo, the restaurant above Draeger's Market on Third Street, I think. Consistently great good, excellent wine list, expensive.

General's Daughter, Sonoma

Dinner tonight: One diner had heirloom tomatoes salad, sonoma duck breast and pineapple upside down cake for dessert. The other had peach and arugula salad, pork saltimbocca with screaming pig risotto, cheese course and Sharffenberger's dark chocolate mousse.

Food: Creative and tasty. Chef is clearly making a singular effort and should get credit. The duck breast was supposed to be medium rare, but came out nearly raw, so we sent it back. The kitchen cooked it more rather than starting over. The other dishes were spot on, the pork was outstanding.

Wine: Good local wine list. The list had a selection of blended wines that was creative and interesting, but the waitress was unable to make recommendations from that. We had a Lynmar Quail Hill Pinot Noir that was inexpensive ($32?) and had the great burgundy taste.

Service: We must have had a waitress on her first night (possibly first night released from an institution). She disappeared from time to time and couldn't seem to keep the idea of customer service straight, like bringing silverware before serving the entrees. But the other staff recognized the problem and filled in for her admirably.

Environment: We ate on the patio which was wonderful on a warm July night in Sonoma; the inside was empty. The building is indeed the former property of the daughter of General Vallejo, leading to the designation for the restaurant, The General's Daughter. Feels like it would be great for special events and groups.

Overall impression: Good effort, good food, uneven but friendly service, great environment which really justifies the whole effort.

Dinner at Canteen

Thanks for reminding us! Those butter brioche rolls: I did nearly the same thing as Celeste, finished them before the starters came and really wanted to order seconds, but didn't want to fill up first....

Sonoma - Shiso "A Modern Asian and Sushi Bar"

We had my partner's kids with us and the boy had a California roll (but what's the difference!?) and what Ming called a Dry Creek roll: salmon, scallions rolled with rice inside seaweed with a spicy sauce and tobiko and sesame seeds. It was a delicious roll, though the sauce was indeed spicy (sort of a Japanese BBQ sauce with kick). The innards were sweet so it set up a kind of sweet/sour thing. It's the only roll we tried.

Sonoma - Shiso "A Modern Asian and Sushi Bar"

We ate at the sushi bar tonight and had the pleasure of attentive service from Ming behind the bar. He was experienced and confident, said he used to serve at Tokyo A Go Go in the Mission district. We had omakase, quite different selection than Grocers Daughters. We had uni from Santa Barbara (tasty and creamy), toro and salmon (wild king from Alaska) sashimi with baby ginger, japanese Aji served with the spine fried and fresh wasabi, hamachi belly that I don't know how to describe but was the best of the bunch, clams from Tomales Bay that were steamed in sake (delicious!), Korean short ribs (something I've never had at a sushi bar, but an excellent choice to end the omakase). I ended up thinking that Shiso is a good reason to come to Sonoma, maybe even all the way from San Francisco. But Ming went to town for us, so we might have gotten the best experience possible.

The restaurant itself is owned by a gaijin, Jeff, who said he started the restaurant and moved to Sonoma at the same time. The restaurant is beautifully appointed, very modern and clean and has an outdoor patio, which is welcome when Sonoma is temperate as it usually is. (Today was above 95...)

Dinner at Canteen

Tonight, I finally found a time when Canteen (817 Sutter Street near Jones) had free seats for my girlfriend and me. I had somehow thought that the place was so small it didn't take reservations. It took an aborted attempt to find out that it does! (Cade, lead waiter tonight, told me that the 7:30pm seating is usually reserved two weeks in advance. The other two seatings are at 6:00pm and 9:15pm.)

Wow! We had (and we just had to share) Sweet Corn Soup with spicy prawns; #1 Tuna marinated in lemon, with cucumbers, dill, and horseradish; Porcini Mushroom Fricasee with smoked onion orzo and pea puree; Lamb Shoulder Confit with chickpeas, apricots, and dried tomato. Desert: Peach Cake with verbena ice cream and Indian Pudding (an old N.E. recipe). Cade, the lead waiter, served us different glasses of wine with each course, based on what we ordered. His ability to match wines is really outstanding: For instance, he matched the Muscat (I think the Allimant-Laugner 2004) with the Sweet Corn Soup and it was perfect. GoingOutAgain found the mushroom fricasee too subtle (i.e. not tasty enough), but I thought it was smashing, particularly the combination of the pea puree and the mushrooms, although the orzo was neutral. The lamb was just plain outstanding. And the peach cake was delicious, enhanced by that ice cream.

Dennis Leary, the famous chef, pretty much stuck to the kitchen, which everyone can see but can also be watched by everyone at the counter.

We'll be regulars if we can figure out how to schedule ourselves in. It's clear that there are regulars, including one lady of advanced years who had to count out her pennies in payment but who also clearly enjoyed the lamb dish. The wait staff treated everyone exactly the same: friendly and attentive.

Harvest Moon Cafe, Sonoma

GoingOutAgain and I had dinner at Harvest Moon Cafe, 487 West First Street, Sonoma. The restaurant appeared to be busier than expected so was struggling to keep up with customers. We needed to be aggressive to get our table, which was reserved. But the wait staff was polite and attentive nonetheless.
We had warm asparagus soup which was light and fresh. Server brought the spoon after serving, but it was still hot.
I don't like beets, but the beet, avocado & mandarin orange salad almost made me reconsider: It wasn't complete without the beets.
The seared tuna had a peppery taste different from the romescu sauce, which itself added substance; it was really tasty, not just the usual raw tuna that's become a signature for California restaurants.
The pork loin came with a really good sauce with capers, which added a new dimension I hadn't experienced on pork before.
The blueberry & peach cobbler was -- to die for.
The restaurant was busy, as though it was the first night it had really experienced unexpected demand, perhaps not unexpected for the night before Independence Day. We never connected with server who seemed to be waiting too many tables and apologized for "the delay" at least three times. But he was nice and had personality the few times we interacted.
All in all, my partner's reaction was appropriate: Best meal she had in Sonoma over a period of years.