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Sonoma County Restaurants Top in the Nation

st. francis

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Santa Rosa has just been named the Number One restaurant in all of America, courtesy of Open Table. Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant of Forestville also made the Top 100 roster.

It’s a big deal. To get its best-of-the-best rankings, the online restaurant reservations site compiled more than 5 million user reviews for about 19,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Some may argue that St. Francis isn’t a restaurant, exactly. Yet the winery is leading the trend of showcasing top name chefs and their cooking in its experiences, and so the 1-½ hour pairing features a six-course tasting menu prepared by executive chef David Bush (formerly of girl & the fig and The Carnelian Room), paired with wines from St. Francis' artisan collection.

Guests reserve a scheduled seating, and pay a low, winery-friendly price of
$45 (Wine club members $36). Then, they settle in for small plates and a relaxed, guided tasting by a St. Francis wine expert.

St. Francis tasting

St. Francis tasting

A recent menu included red curry braised squash with kale falafel, fried cashews, raw baby kale and minted yogurt (paired with 2012 Viognier, Wild Oak Vineyard, Sonoma Valley), and mushroom and ricotta agnolotti scattered in seared mushrooms, pickled red onions, mache and shaved Grana Padano (2011 Red Wine, Cuvée Lago, Sonoma County).

Next was bouillabaisse of fresh fish and shellfish, fingerling potatoes, fennel fronds and grilled crostini topped in rouille (2010 Cabernet Franc, Sonoma Valley), followed by grilled bavette of beef with Bloomsdale spinach in sesame-miso vinaigrette, baby turnips, garlic chips and truffled ponzu (2010 Merlot, Behler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley).

To finish, the chef offered a seasonal cheese selection, plus peanut butter mousse covered in dark chocolate ganache with red wine soaked blueberries and pretzel crunch (2010 Zinfandel, Amann Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley).

Signature Dish -- Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

Signature Dish -- Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

At the Michelin-star Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville, chef Steve Litke cooks Cal-Mediterranean, served in a sophisticated setting of antiques and modern farm touches. One of his signatures is rabbit, offered as a trio of a roasted rack, loin, cut into thick coins then wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, and leg confit, draped in velvety whole grain mustard sauce alongside Yukon potato.

Naturally, reservations for both St. Francis and Farmhouse are strongly recommended.

Details: St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, 500 N. Pythian Rd., Santa Rosa, 707-538-9463, stfranciswinery.com.

Details: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, 7871 River Road, Forestville, 707-887-3300, farmhouseinn.com.

Tip: A top restaurant visit deserves top transportation. Treat yourself to a Pure Luxury limo or Town Car, for even more enjoyment of the great food and wine.

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