What symbolizes a special occasion dinner? Generally, it's exquisite cuisine, served in an upscale setting, with world-class wines, and polished service.
More and more, that’s hard to find, though, as modern diners opt for more relaxed experiences (no white tablecloths, please). Yet with the opening of The Library at Chalkboard in downtown Healdsburg’s Hotel Les Mars, the fancy dinner is back.
As an extension of Chalkboard restaurant next door to Le Mars, The Library is staged off the hotel lobby in the walnut-paneled salon done up with glittering chandeliers and billowy sheer drapes. Tables are set with white tablecloths, and delicate flower vases.
Chalkboard executive chef Shane McAnelly is pulling out the stops, offering a $95, six-course chef’s tasting menu, with wine pairings costing $70 extra. Diners can choose between a regular or vegetarian line-up, in multiple choices among courses. The optional drinks are special, too, as wine director Vito Carano recommends wine, but also beer.
For the opening menu, starters include kampachi crudo with fava bean, radish, and ponzu bubbles, or Chiogga beet salad with avocado mousse, cara cara orange and pistachio.
Then, it’s on to bacon consommé with pork belly, 63° egg, maple and nasturtium, or chilled English pea soup dotted with housemade ricotta and lemon verbena.
Guests can expect a three hour meal, as servers parade out course after course – seared dayboat scallops, perhaps, moistened with Iberico lardo on a bed of English pea, vanilla bean and pea shoot.
Many of the ingredients come from the Chalk Hill Winery estate garden of Alexander Valley, since the restaurant shares the same ownership. That means just-picked vegetables for the roasted carrot sformato with baby favas, fava leaf and carrot sauerkraut.
Such cooking is demanding on the kitchen, and so The Library is open only on Friday and Saturday nights, and is limited to 16 guests. Reservations, of course, are a must.
Details: The Library at Chalkboard, 29 North St., Healdsburg, 707-433-4211, chalkboardhealdsburg.com. Hours: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Fri. & Sat.
Tip: A special occasion dinner deserves a special occasion ride. Reserve a Pure Luxury limousine for door-to-door service.