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04.22.09

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Essential Upscale

Once again we remind: There is more to dining than falafel

By Carey Sweet


Estate Sondra Bernstein of the Girl and the Fig reinvented the former General's Daughter into a modern gathering spot with an enormous menu. Browse and nibble, and don't be afraid to experiment with offbeat bites like braised tripe in tomato sauce topped with a crispy farm egg, or chicken livers tossed with bitter greens and grappa currants. The wood-fired pizzas rock. 400 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 707.933.3663.

Bottega Michael Chiarello is a TV star who reminds us he's first and foremost a chef—though the glamour is ever-present, too. High-energy Italian-style translates to fabulous food and décor, such as a gargantuan lamb shank that's been braised to velvet in goat milk and then gilded in garlic, fennel, sweet onions and roasted wild mushrooms. 6525 Washington St., Yountville. 707.945.1050.

Restaurant Eloise Chef-owners Eric Korsh and Ginevra Iverson come from the acclaimed Prune in New York. But here they've made it all about Big City Sonoma, with local ingredients turned into sophisticated stunners such as mushrooms with poached eggs on toast, and marrow bones you scoop out with a tiny spoon. 2295 Gravenstein Hwy. S., Sebastopol. 707.823.6300.

Scopa Nonna's tomato-braised chicken. Need we say more? Italian comfort food gets even more cozy in this warm, tiny spot, with husband-and-wife team Ari Rosen and Dawnelise Regnery Rosen hovering attentively nearby. The housemade cannelloni is a must, stuffed with creamy ricotta and baked in deeply savory Bolognese. 109-A Plaza St., Healdsburg. 707.433.5282.

Marinitas In the mood for Monkey Love? Stylish South American sizzles, with regional Mexican and pan-Latin plates alongside Chilean wines and funky cocktails like that Monkey Love mix of platinum and dark Myers's rum, hibiscus, pineapple and orange. Chef-owner Heidi Krahling kicks loose with uncommon (and uncommonly good) bites like Yucatan-inspired Alaskan cod with corn cakes in pumpkin-seed vinaigrette, plus crispy tacos in nopales salsa. 218 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo. 415.454.8900.

Madrona Manor The estate-genteel decor and formal gardens belie the modern cooking going on inside. Chef Jesse Mallgren shows off with sous-vide and liquid nitrogen ice cream, but also nails the classics. You've never had an egg like this, slow-cooked to a sensuous custard touched with Banyuls vinegar and resting on onion velouté. 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg. 707.433.4231.

Murray Circle If you could eat the view, you'd be fat and happy indeed at this luxury spot within Cavallo Point Lodge at Fort Baker. But focus instead on the opulent tasting menus from chef Joseph Humphrey. À la carte is another enticing option, perhaps the Eggs, Fish and Fowl, combining pheasant egg topped with Parmesan foam and black caviar; a hard-cooked partridge egg on chive crème fraîche dotted with coral salmon roe; and a fried quail egg capped with sea urchin roe over grilled leeks and bacon. 602 Murray Circle, Sausalito. 415.339.4750.

The Restaurant at Meadowood You're eating overlooking a resort croquet course and paying up to $155 for an eight-course tasting menu. Yet chef Christopher Kostow keeps things relatively down-to-earth in this swank setting, offering up enticements like slow-cooked round of beef tenderloin paired with brioche gnocchi, smoky grilled chicories and morels. If a dish sounds interesting, order it—it's likely one-of-a-kind. 900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena. 707.967.1205.

Nick's Cove The setting is sumptuous, sprawling out to pylons above the Pacific. Yet the food quickly distracts, even when it's as simple as Bodega Bay Dungeness crab cakes served as a trio of luxuriously meaty, golden-edged disks tinged with fennel and resting on a puddle of bright Meyer lemon aioli. One of the most hugely satisfying plates is the cheeseburger and fries. 23240 Hwy. 1, Marshall. 415.663.1033.

GG's Earth & Surf Restaurant The cafe is green-certified by Thimmakka (look it up), serving green-inspired food that you'll want to eat up. The emphasis from owner Suzan Fleissner and chef Trevor Anderson is thoroughly on seasonal organic produce, with all ingredients sourced from within 150 miles of Santa Rosa. No meat, but delish fish, such as sautéed striped bass with olive ravioli, citrus butter and artichoke. Dive into wicked diversions such as pistachio ricotta pancakes with fresh mandarin ginger honey. 630 Third St., Santa Rosa. 707.528.1445.


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