Archive for Healdsburg Ca


Posted in Restaurant Charcuterie (Healdsburg), Uncategorized, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by ballymote

 Our main reason for dining here on a Friday evening was that our first choice, The Dry Creek Kitchen, had no tables available until 10:00 P.M. Still, it looked like a good place and had lots of good reviews so once seated at our window table we looked forward to our last meal in wine country,

We had just completed a wonderful day which included a great tour of Bella Winery and Caves followed by a visit with our friend, Scott Lindstrom-Dake at his Thumbprint Cellars Tasting Room just across the street from Charcuterie .

We picked up a couple of bottles to have with our dinner as corkage here was a reasonable $15.00 per bottle. We had the 2007 Thumbprint Cellars “Threesome”. This erotically named wine contains equal parts of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cab franc. Our other bottle was the 2007 Thumbprint, Ramazotti Vineyard, Syrah. Both of these wines were very good although Thumbprint wines can quite often be found back East at lower prices that what they are sold for in Sonoma.

We began the meal with a couple of enticing appetizers. I have to confess that two weeks after the actual dinner I can’t recall exactly who ordered what but on the left is the Baked Nut-Crusted Brie with roasted garlic served with crostini. It wasn’t bad. On the right is “The Charcuterie Plate”, featuring Rosette de Lyon Salami, Duck Rillette, Pork Pepper Pate, Garlic Salami, olives and cornichons. I’m not a big “charcuterie” fan so I can’t tell you whether this was good or not. I did not hear raves from around the table.

Each of our dinners came with a choice of soup or salad. I believe the soup was another pumpkin squash which seems to be on most menus out here at this time of the year. Both the soup and salad were fine. As for entrees the six of us found three that drew our interest.

 A couple of folks chose the Chicken Strips Piccata over Rigatoni Pasta with white wine lemon, tomatoes and caper sauce. It looked good but no one seemed excited about it and I think there was an overall disappointment with this dish.

Whatever degree of disappointment was shared by the Chicken Strip Piccata people, it could not match the disappointment that my wife, Kathy felt toward her choice which was one of the “specials” on that evening. She had ordered the Roasted Double Cut Pork Chops, stuffed with sweet corn, roasted Bermuda onions, tomato and fresh herb and served with brussel sprouts and garlic mashed potatoes. She had to send the entire meal back as the pork chop was undercooked. She waited a lengthy time for its return and her only regret is that it DID return. She clearly remembers this dish as the worst of the entire trip.

 It would only be fitting that I join the others in bashing my entree but I’m afraid I can’t do that. I absolutely LOVED my choice of the Fusilli Pasta with Smoked Chicken, sun-dried tomatoes served in a basil creme sauce. It may just be one of the more memorable entrees of the entire trip. The sauce was perfect, the chicken tender and flavorful and the pasta cooked perfectly. I’m hungry all over again just writing about it.

So, you can see there were mixed opinions about Charcuterie.

We closed out the meal with a few yummy desserts, chocolate cake with mocha ice cream, some nice chocolate profiteroles and some mocha chip ice cream on its own.

Not the best meal of the trip for many but, I thought my entree was certainly a contender.


Posted in Cyrus (Healdsburg), Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2010 by ballymote

 For a lot of people coming to wine country, it’s a coin flip. The French Laundry or Cyrus. Both of these restaurants represent the best that the two valleys have to offer in the way of fine dining. Thomas Keller’s French Laundry is the heavyweight champion of Napa while Chef Douglas Keane’s Cyrus in Healdsburg reigns as the premier haven for “foodies” in Sonoma. It’s probably a little tougher to get a reservation at TFL but both will set you back some serious sheckles by the time you get your final tab. I had mentioned in a review that I did on TripAdvisor. com that we chose Cyrus because the bank would only lend us enough using our homes for collateral to afford Cyrus. The question thus becomes… it worth it?

Cyrus is an elegant restaurant. From the moment you are seated the catering begins. There are immediate choices to be made. Do we pass on the Champagne & Caviar Cart? We do. Do we want the five or nine course Tasting Menu. We opt for the five. Would we be including the wine pairings with each course? We choose to forego this and each choose our own wines to accompany the courses. My wife and I select glasses of red and white. For the white we have the 2008 Ramey, Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay, for our red we have the 2006 Copain, Hawks Butte, Syrah, Yorkville Highlands. Both wines are excellent and we each have two glasses of both which served as the perfect amount for our food. Gerry and Joann went with a nice half-bottle of the 2006 Chateau de Beaucastle, Chateauneuf du Pape. Tough to go wrong with that one. Joe and Carol had an Italian wine, not sure of the producer but it was a Rosso di Montalcino.

It has been exactly two weeks since our dinner at Cyrus and I have given a lot of thought as to how I was going to do this review. I’ve decided the review will be from only my point of view on what I had to eat and how I felt about the entire dining experience at Cyrus. At the end I will give my reasons for this variance in style.

An amuse bouche tower relating to the taste sensations of sour, sweet, salty, bitter, pungent and umami was presented. Each just a quick burst of one of these flavors.

It should be noted that each food item presented was worthy of a matted and framed picture. The kitchen does a masterful job of plating each dish for dramatic effect.

My first course was a beautiful Thai Lobster and Greek Salad.

This was followed by

Foie Gras Torchon with Fig and Pistachio, and Buttermilk Biscuit. Looks good, tasted better.

I should point out that throughout the evening we were constantly offered their wonderful fresh bread and rolls. I probably had six of them they were so good.

This is the Sugar Pie Pumpkin Soup, Chestnut Confit and Toasted Pepitas.

 Medai (Japanese Butterfish) with Sweet Corn and Scallions, Lemon Verbena. This was very light and flavorful. One of my favorites.

Sweet Corn and Black Truffle Risotto. Another delicious highlight of the meal, beautifully presented.

 Crispy Poussin with Potato Mousseline and Haricots Verts, Fine Herbs. Exquisitely cooked, fresh chicken.

I’ll show both desserts here as I had the first and my wife had the second.

This is my Mint Chocolate Chip, Lemongrass and Grains of Paradise, Hot Chocolate. Prettier than it really was. My wife’s red Velvet Cake. Must everything be deconstructed??

We were sent home with a Mignardise, a nicely boxed and very tasty Brownie which got to live for three more days before I had it with a morning cup of coffee.

So there it is, dinner at Cyrus. It’s not unlike going to the theatre. You have your main server who is assisted by a never-ending parade of assistants and busboys who are constantly removing plates and silverware and replacing them with shiny new utensils. It’s apparent they have performed this routine hundreds if not thousands of times. Was it the best meal I have ever had? No, only the most expensive. That’s not a complaint. I think you are paying for a food experience. One of our group ran into Georges Perrier, Chef/Owner of Philadelphia’s legendary Le Bec Fin restaurant, the week after our return. He mentioned to the Chef that he had been to Cyrus the prior week and that he hadn’t been blown away by the food. In his inimitable French accent Georges replied “ have to learn to enjoy the moment” And that is probably better than I could have put it. Cyrus is about enjoying the moment. I did. The others will have to speak for themselves….in the comment section here, if they so choose!!