Friday, October 16, 2009

Ladies (and Nick) who lunch.

After our visit to DeLoach, Miriam, Nick, Louisa and I took a drive up the road to the ridiculously adorable town of Healdsburg. Nestled in between Dry Creek and the Russian River, Healdsburg is a great jumping off point for exploring the eastern side of Sonoma. It's full of delicious restaurants, and we've already decided we want to give the Hotel Healdsburg a try.

But we hadn't come to Healdsburg looking for a place to sleep - we were hungry, and in search of good food. We poked around my guide book a bit, but it was a Tuesday afternoon and lots of places listed were closed. We decided to just park the car downtown and wander a bit. A block or two into our walk, we stumbled onto the Healdsburg Bar & Grill (listed in the book, but noted for its child-friendliness, something we'd specifically avoided) and decided its outdoor seating and salad- and sandwich-heavy menu was just the thing.

We sat in the sun (though we were still a bit chilly; it was incredibly windy that day) and ordered a bucket of pickles to share, along with macaroni and cheese (me), a BLT (Louisa), tomato and fig salad (Miriam) and the portobello burger (Nick).

Like pretty much everywhere else I ate in California (save the taqueria truck), Healdsburg Bar & Grill is obsessed with the origin of its food; almost every item on the menu listed the provenance of the primary ingredients. While this convention can get a bit trying, it did telegraph a level of care and attention for the food that boded well for the meal.

The pickles came first, in all their salty, briny glory. Nick and I both loved the bread & butter pickles; the other items on offer (dill spears, pickled peppers, green beans) were good, but not great. Of course, they were still pickles, so I liked them fine.

Next up, our mains. Louisa loved her sandwich - so much so that I couldn't get a picture of it before she got started on it. Ditto on Nick's portobello burger. Miriam, though, is family, so I had no qualms ordering her to hold off for a photo of her beautiful salad. Figs, tomatoes and creamy (not crumbly) feta made for a delicious combination, rich and sweet and salty all at once.

My macaroni and cheese was good, but not great. More of a creamy pasta with a sprinkling of panko on top, it was dotted with bacon and rich with stinky cheeses, as opposed to mild, kid-friendly cheddar. That said, it could have used a bit more tang, and the bites I enjoyed most were those I supplemented with teeny dots of mustard.

Overall, though, I'd highly recommend Healdsburg Bar & Grill as a lunch destination. The food was really well-done, and the menu is small enough to ensure that every item is given the care and attention it deserves. I can't speak for dessert, though - we went down the street for that. And, oh boy, was it good.

Healdsburg Bar & Grill
245 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA

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