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05.26.10

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P/30

By Stett Holbrook


The setup for P/30 restaurant is almost too perfect. Heading west on Bodega Highway just outside of Sebastopol you drive into the fading sun as redwood trees commingle with apple orchards in full spring leaf. Roll down the car window and breathe in the heady scent of the cooling earth. Then the slanting sunlight reveals a roadside building on the right, a little old house really.

P/30, which takes its name from chef and co-owner Patrick Tafoya's first initial and age, does just about everything right. Tafoya, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Christine Tafoya, cooked at Bodega Bay's Duck Club before setting out on his own. The restaurant describes itself as "cheap and chic," and that it is. It serves a sophisticated brand of comfort food that's pitch-perfect for the rural setting and diners' shrunken wallets.

The five-month-old restaurant only takes reservations for parties of five or more, and that means you'll likely have to wait. But that's OK. There's a little hangout area just inside the door where you'll share space with other eager diners. Order a glass of wine from the well chosen local wine list and snack on a few of the great starters.

When you're finally seated, it feels like joining a cozy, slightly buzzed dinner party already in progress. The shabby-chic chandeliers, hardwood floors, walls painted a warm yellow and the distinctive artwork give the two dining rooms a homey, welcoming feel. In less than skilled hands, gnocchi can lay in your stomach like lug nuts, but at P/30 the goat cheese gnocchi ($11) are so light they fairly float from mouth to stomach. The roasted beets and warm peashoot salad with brown butter vinaigrette seal the deal. Duck confit is French comfort food par excellence, and it's great here ($15). A moist and pleasantly salty Liberty Farms duck leg shares the plate with roasted potatoes and spring greens tossed with bacon-mustard dressing.

The dessert list is where P/30 really lets the good times roll. Head straight for the carrot cake ($7), made with candied walnuts and rum raisin sauce. It's good, but for me the accompanying candycap mushroom ice cream with its maple syrup flavors stole the show. And you can do no wrong with the chocolate and peanut butter sandwiches ($7) with tar-thick warm chocolate sauce on the side for your dunking pleasure. The homemade lollipops proffered at the end of the meal send you out into the night with a smile. 9890 Bodega Hwy., Sebastopol. 707.861.9030.


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