As if you needed another excuse to go out and enjoy a fantastic Napa/Sonoma restaurant meal -- ready your appetites for what’s new in Wine Country:
Charlie Palmer is in the house, and that’s enough to know that this place is pretty special. This time, the Dry Creek Kitchen legend has taken over the entire property, including Harvest Inn. Besides updating the rooms, he’s renovated the former lobby and built a snazzy space for executive chef Levi Mezick to present bites like roasted carrots with buttermilk, vadouvan, and granola; pan-roasted squab breast with poached plums, stinging nettles, and fermented turnips in sherry squab jus; or whole roasted truffle chicken with butternut squash and risotto.
1 Main St., St. Helena, (707) 967-4695, harvesttablenapa.com.
Glen Ellen Star
This tiny Glen Ellen treasure has now doubled in size, thanks to a brand new enclosed patio right outside the kitchen window. It’s gorgeous space, too, in reclaimed redwood, stained cement floors, a big wagon wheel chandelier and copper trimmed vintage seating. You can sit here for a la carte meals from chef-owner Ari Weiswasser, or snag communal tables for larger groups, or even take over the entire space for a private party. If it’s private, consider the family-style menus tempting with smoked rack of pork, whole roasted leg of lamb, seafood paella, or signature suckling pig roast with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer thrown in for free.
13648 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-343-1384, glenellenstar.com.
Sauced BBQ & Spirits
We love this fun Southern cooking, beckoning with bumpkins, which are cute barbecued egg rolls stuffed with brisket, pimento cheese, sautéed onions, roasted poblano, and smoked corn. More authentic bites include spare ribs, pulled pork, brisket and burnt ends, those twice-smoked and twice-rubbed cubes of brisket from the juicier point section. The décor is downhome, too, of corrugated ceiling were reclaimed from barns in Georgia and North Carolina.
151 Petaluma Blvd. S. Suite 129 Petaluma, CA 94952 707-410-4400, saucedbbqandspirits.com.
This cute as a button space used to be Bistro des Copains cottage, and owners Jim and Michele Wimborough have retained every ounce of charm, plus added delightful touches of their own. The theme is now Cal-Med, wooing with signature dishes like scallop crudo dressed with Santa Rosa plums, a seafood stew stocked with halibut, Dungeness crab, mussels, clams and fingerling potatoes with grilled bread for sopping, or local pizza dressed in Valley Ford cheese, sweet corn, cherry tomato and jalapenos.
3782 Bohemian Hwy., Occidental, restauranthazel.com.
Ralph's Martini House
The space used to be a rustic French-Cal bistro called Ralph's, and it did great for the past 23-years. Reborn as an even more casual experience, the tiny 13-table space operates around the big bar, offering a small plates-focused menu and cocktail table service. Think eclectic: dishes range from foie gras with nectarines and cauliflower steak dotted with salsa roja to pork tamales and vanilla gelato sundaes.
109 Plaza Street, Healdsburg, ralphsmartinithouse.com.