Zagat Review - October 2004
Wine Enthusiast - by Steve Heimoff - 07/04
- by Jeff Cox - 4/25/04
- by Michael Bauer - 4/11/04
- by Patricia Unterman - 3/24/04
- by Jeff Cox - 2/22/04
by Carolyn Tillie - 1/16/04
Chronicle - by Kim Seversen - 12/24/03
Democrat - by Michele Anna Jordan - 12/25/03
Published on www.zagat.com
"Get ready to say ooh-la-la” at this “brilliant new” bistro/wine bar/retail store just off Sonoma Square; although it serves “lovingly prepared classic French fare” along with locally made “picnic food”, it's already known as “the home of the perfect foie gras”, served in an adobe-walled room that's “cozy or cramped, depending on your viewpoint.”
Foie gras, not frou-frou
Published in July 2004 - Wine Enthusiast
By Steve Heimoff
Chef Laurent Manrique's bistro, Sonoma Saveurs , has quickly become a favorite haunt for locals and tourists who congregate in Sonoma town's fashionable Plaza. It is intimate, crowded and, best of all, unpretentious. The menu (lunch and dinner are the same) is wine-country fancy, with modestly priced grill and roti plates, sandwiches, fresh soups and salads, an extensive selection of take-home charcuterie, and plenty of foie gras. The wine list is color coded to guide diners through a spectrum that ranges from crisp, racy white wines to full-bodied reds—50 selections, all local. Sonoma Saveurs, 487 First Street West, Sonoma, CA; 707/996-7007 — Steve Heimoff
Dine on Duck
Published on April 25, 2004 © 2004- The Press Democrat
BYLINE: compiled by Jeff Cox
PAGE: Q 4
Bites - It's first come, first served at the small but mighty Sonoma Saveurs, on the
west side of the square at the heart of Sonoma.
A back patio is being readied for warm weather dining, which will double the
capacity. It's owned and operated by a couple, originally from El Salvador,
who have developed the largest production facility for foie
gras on the West Coast, and a French couple who have developed
the restaurant's European atmosphere.
Many of the dishes involve duck, including luscious foie gras, and the place
is a deli besides, with artisan cheeses, pates, and roast meats.
Sonoma Saveurs, 487 First St. W., Sonoma; 996-7007.
For the Love of Foie Gras -
Sonoma Saveurs has the food down, but lacks savoir-faire
By Michael Bauer
Sunday, April 11, 2004
©2004 San Francisco
Walking into Sonoma Saveurs on the square
of Sonoma transports diners back to the artisan cafes of France.
It could be in Provence or Gascony - you can almost smell
the fields of fresh herbs. There's a service case right inside
the door that displays cheese, foie gras, terrines, smoked
salmon and other hand-crafted products. Beyond that is a walnut
and red marble bar, a gaggle of bistro tables and a large
patio that makes the most of Sonoma's Mediterraneanlike climate.
Featuring both takeout and eat-in options, the cafe makes
the most of its historic adobe building, which was constructed
in 1842. This quaint, charming quality belies the fact that
only a few months ago the restaurant became the rallying point
for animal activists protesting the raising and selling of
foie gras. Just before the restaurant's August opening, vandals
broke in and poured concrete down the drain, flooded the interior
and defaced the equipment with graffiti, delaying the opening
until mid-December. Some local residents even went so far
as to present a petition to the city council to ban the sale
of foie gras products in Sonoma County.
Who would have thought that one of France's grand traditions
would put passionate small business owners through such hell?
The owners have been in the food business a long time: Junny
and Guillermo Gonzalez have run Sonoma Foie Gras, one of only
two producers in the United States, since 1986; and French
lawyer Didier Jaubert is
involved in the business with his wife, Leslie. The other partner is Laurent
Manrique, who is also the chef of Aqua in San Francisco.
Still, the place has so much charm and potential that with
very little effort, Sonoma Saveurs could become a true destination.
The interior has a retro decor and an odd traffic pattern,
with the 30 indoor seats arranged in a zigzag pattern, the
results of revitalizing a 162-year-old building. However,
the historic building also contributes to its Gallic charm,
thanks in part to the thickly plastered walls decorated
with handsome sconces shaped like olive branches, the arrangement
of bistro chairs and cramped tables, and other Old World
accents. Half-dead flowers in a murky vase on the corner of
the bar give the impression that perhaps the owners don't
check in often enough to ensure that their vision is fulfilled.
Chef Mary Dumont, who worked with Manrique for three years
at San Francisco's Campton Place, does a fine job with the
food, which can be as soothing as an hourlong massage. Just
reading over the menu conjures up fantasies of sipping wine
and lingering over the charcuterie plates ($13), cheese platters
($12 for three cheeses; $18 for five), substantial salads,
sandwiches on country bread and a half-dozen grilled or rotisserie
entrees. Color-coded squares on the menu help diners match
their food with wine.
I could sense my blood pressure drop when I smeared buttery foie gras mousse on the toasted country bread. From there, I moved on to the slices of sausage finished off with a dab of violet mustard, chased by a few briny olives. I cut off a hunk of one of the rustic housemade country pates, savored the robust amalgamation of flavors and cleared my palate with pickled fennel. We were also delighted to find an unadvertised addition to our platter: two very thin slices of some of the best prosciutto I've tasted. Pop a slice into your mouth and it begins to sensually melt on the tongue, much like lardo, Italian-cured fatback.
It's in this area that the restaurant really shines, with
dishes like rich duck rillettes ($12); a fat slice of foie
gras terrine dramatically paired with blue cheese and a glass
of late-harvest wine ($18); and a trio of salmon ($14): pastrami,
smoked and gravlax, served with a creamy potato salad glazed
with mascarpone cheese and snips of chives. Unfortunately,
the plate also included a too-generous drizzle of balsamic
vinegar, which stripped all the distinctive flavors of the
various preparations. As with just about everything in life,
we pay a price for too much of a good thing.
Duck is the restaurant's obvious specialty. One of the best
dishes is a marvelous duck burger ($10). The well-browned
slab of meat is served on a sturdy roll with tender leaves
of arugula, tomato confit and a choice of Gruyere or blue
cheese. A slather of aioli would have made it even better.
A generous duck confit salad ($11) features rich warm shreds
of meat tossed with pears, pecans, chives and a mix of arugula
and frisee, flavored with a mild pumpkin seed oil vinaigrette.
Duck breast ($14) has been so rarefied in restaurants, generally
sliced thin and fanned on the plate, that it feels downright
decadent to get a juicy hunk of breast, seared to crackle
the skin, grilled and cut into four rosy chunks. It's served
with a mix of asparagus, radish quarters and peas. My dining
partner had never had cooked radishes, but she soon woke up to the fact that this classic method shows off this underappreciated vegetable.
The same medley is also served with the other main courses,
including grilled squab ($15), juicy grilled hanger steak
($15), the fish of the day ($12) and half a rotisserie chicken
($12), which on my visit tasted as if it were cooked earlier
in the day and kept warm.
Sandwiches (all $9) are great at lunch, including a memorable rotisserie chicken, which features a generous slather of aioli,
thick slices of crisp bacon, arugula and the crunch of tiny
bits of celery; and a thick fillet of halibut, with a nice
sear on the outside, served with tomato confit, arugula, aioli
and caper-cornichon tapenade.
USER-FRIENDLY WINE LIST SELLS ITSELF
Thoroughly French food and an all-California
wine list mix easily at Sonoma Saveurs, a charming cafe
that evokes the French countryside.
On the positive side, every food item on the list is color-coded
to match varietals on the compact 50-item list. The selections
concentrate on small producers, many of whom may be relatively
unknown to Sonoma County visitors: 2000 Deerfield Ranch "Labbe Vineyard" Chardonnay ($47), 2000 Forchini Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir ($30), 2000 Paradise Ridge "Ladi's Vineyard" Merlot ($41) and 2001 Kaz Vineyard Petite Sirah ($54).
Pricing, generally on the high side, is on a sliding scale,
with the cheaper wines having a higher mark-up. This means
a wine such as the 2001 Castle Vineyard Viognier costs the
restaurant about $5, but is sold for $7 by the glass and $21
by the bottle; 2002 Arrowood "Saralee's Vineyard" Viognier
costs around $24 and is $48 on the list.
Unfortunately, at least on our visit, the staff didn't seem
to know much about the wines, so we were pretty much on our
own. But because the offerings are well selected, it's hard
to go wrong.
For those who want to forgo the wine, the restaurant
also features Lagunitas Czech-style pilsner ($4.50), sparkling
cider and two kinds of bottled iced tea. If you bring your
own wine, corkage is $10. - M.B.
your foie gras heart out
Special To The Examiner
Published on Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Sonoma Saveurs, a tiny bistro, wine bar and charcuterie, finally
opened on the main plaza of Sonoma , San Franciscans had to
travel to France to have, to my mind, the ultimate foie gras
experience -- big slabs of natural foie gras terrine with
toasted country bread. Now, you can sit outdoors on the sidewalk
across from the plaza; or on the landscaped back patio of
Sonoma Saveurs; or inside the antiqued, shelf- lined shop,
and eat foie every bit as velvety, sweet and unctuous as the
best in France .
Foie gras is a 6,000-year-old delicacy; Egyptians discovered
that the naturally fat-engorged livers of pre-migration wild
geese were extraordinarily delicious.
Along with locally produced artisanal foie gras, Sonoma Saveurs
showcases Sonoma products of all kinds -- cheeses, wines,
olive oil, fruits and vegetables of course; as well as preparations
made with moulard ducks. The bistro's highly skilled chef,
Mary Dumont, learned foie gras technique during the three
years she worked with chef Laurent Manrique when he was at
Campton Place. She produces flawless terrines and mousses
to eat in the cafe or take home, as well as an engaging, ingredient-driven
The main reason for any pilgrimmage to Sonoma Saveurs is
to eat foie gras -- as much as you want -- at an affordable
price in its purest form. Start with artisan foie gras terrine
au natural ($14), a healthy slab served with toasted country
bread and a dab of date chutney. As it melted in my mouth,
taste memories of indulgent lunches at ancient L'Ami Louis
in Paris and inns in the Gascon countryside swept me away.
So of course I ordered more, this time with a slice of grilled
foie gras terrine in which the foie gras takes on a slightly
smoky edge from searing before being gently cooked in the
A dreamy mousse of foie gras, whose natural sweetness is
underscored by a whisper shallot and port, comes on the pretty
charcuterie plate ($13) which might include slices of proscuitto,
thin slices of dried sausage and condiments -- violet mustard,
cornichons, pickled fennel and olives.
Duck rillettes ($12), duck slowly cooked in fat until it
falls into shreds, here, molded in a terrine, tasted a little
dry to me. It needed the plushness of more tasty duck fat.
You can get seared, warm foie gras with Mary Dumont's sparkly
green salad ($14); or a hunk of the incomparable Tomales Bay
Red Hawk cheese with a rich salad of butter lettuce and bacon
lardons in a mustard vinaigrette ($9).
The tiny open kitchen boasts a handsome rotisserie for chickens
and a grill for local squab, duck breast, hangar steak and
fish. Nothing costs more than $15. But the non-foie dish that
won my heart was the grilled duck burger ($10) with melted
Gruyere. It tasted juicy and meaty, but light with one of
those perfect arugula salads on the side.
The clever, color-coded menu and wine list, make it easy
to pair any of these dishes with the right glass or bottle
of wine, all of which come from California and most from Sonoma
For those of you who have never tried foie gras, here is
your chance to taste it at its best in a casual country venue.
The artisanal foie gras served at Sonoma Saveurs is produced
by the Gonzales family who treat their flocks humanely.
If you don't have an objection to eating beef, chicken or
pork (and we should all think twice about the inhumane factory
farming of some of these domesticated animals), there is no
reason to forgo foie gras, especially when we can eat it at
its best at Sonoma Saveurs.
Sonoma Saveurs a Team Effort
on February 22, 2004 © 2004- The Press Democrat
JEFF COX FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PAGE: Q 4
If there are 8
million stories in the naked city, I'd guess about a
million of them are connected to Sonoma Saveurs, the new restaurant
and artisanal food shop on the west side of Sonoma's
town square. This has been no simple restaurant opening. At
the heart of Sonoma Saveurs are Guillermo and Junny (pronounced
joon-y) Gonzalez, who left El Salvador in 1985 to develop
a unique culinary business in the United States. He
ran his grandmother's artisan bakery in San Salvador and Junny
learned her cooking from Vilma de Escobar, an author
of 20 cookbooks who's well known in Central America. They
first traveled to France to learn the techniques for making
foie gras, then came to the United States and settled in Carneros,
where they began Sonoma Foie Gras in 1986. That business
has prospered, and today, their products -- duck breasts
and foie gras produced at their facility in San Joaquin
County -- are sold across the country.
Two other couples
are partners in Sonoma Saveurs. Didier and Leslie
Jaubert became friends with the Gonzalezes and planned the
combination restaurant, wine bar, rotisserie and artisanal
products deli.Didier is a French attorney and Leslie is an
American swimming champion and physical therapist.
couple is Laurent and Cathinka Manrique. He's currently
executive chef at Aqua in San Francisco and formerly was
executive chef at Campton Place -- he's also the consulting
chef at Sonoma Saveurs. Cathinka has degrees in business
and hotel management and worked at the Waldorf-Astoria in
New York and the Ritz-Carlton and City Club in San Francisco.
The executive chef at Sonoma Saveurs is Mary Dumont.
She's cooked and managed the artisanal cheeses at Jardiniere,
worked at Elisabeth Daniel and was sous chef under Laurent
Manrique at Campton Place. All three of these restaurants
are in San Francisco. This is a lineup of culinary
heavy hitters, but since it was announced that Sonoma Foie
Gras planned to open a restaurant on the town's square, there
has been some hitting from another direction.
protests from animal activists opposed to methods used
to feed ducks to produce foie gras. In addition, there were
reports of vandalism to the restaurant space and the Gonzalez
farm. Now state Sen. John Burton has sponsored a bill
to outlaw foie gras in California. With all the commotion,
you'd think that Sonoma Saveurs is a big restaurant,
but it's not. Right now there are just four regular wooden
tables, plus six two-person, small, round, high tables, plus
four stools at the wine bar. Plans are being made to develop
an outside area behind the restaurant for more seating,
when the weather warms up.
The atmosphere is determinedly
French. Deli cases with pates, cheeses and sausages,
among other items, line the wall to the right as you enter.
Wall sconces are beautifully worked metal, made to look
like olive branches. The rotisserie is at the rear of the
room. I heard a lot of French being spoken. The music on the
sound system is hip Euro-World-style electronica. The walls
and floor are tones of earth and
The waiters seemed excited to be working there
and happily dealt with my questions. During
the meal, Chef Dumont came by, showing a calm demeanor --
something I never knew in my days as a waiter under a very
volatile chef with a hair-trigger temper. Each dish on the
menu is given a color code that relates to color-coded wines
on the wine list. For instance, the grilled
fish sandwich is marked with green and pink. Green wines on
the list are crisp, racy and fruity whites, while pink are
fresh and juicy light reds or roses.
The wine list itself
is unusually loaded with obscure wineries: Yorkville, Candela,
Libelula, Miura, Colliers Falls, Amphora,
Graziano, Trinitas and Wilson wineries among them. More
familiar names include Arrowood, Gundlach-Bundschu and Coturri.
Dinner started with a perfect artisan foie gras terrine
($14**** ), quality you might expect from the only foie gras
producer in the western United States.A terrine is a pate
that's been molded in a dish lined with yellow duck
fat so that when unmolded, the slices have a pretty
edge. Two slices of satin-smooth, pink, salty and richly flavored
pate are accompanied by two slices of French country
bread croutons and a spoonful of sweet, smoky date chutney.
There's a hint of Alsace in the horseradish used to flavor
the diced apple-chestnut mixture that comes with
the duck rillettes ($12*** ).Shredded duck meat is pounded
with thyme and a little duck fat, then served with
a sprinkling of golden raisins. The toasted French country
bread croutons give you a base to spread the rillettes on.
A small pot of onion soup ($6*** ) has been topped with
bread and high-quality Gruyere cheese, then baked
until the top is bubbled brown and chewy. Underneath,
the soup is rich and golden in color, rather than dark and
syrupy. It's classic.
I can believe the "Artisan Foie Gras''
is the company's highest quality, judging by the big, meltingly
soft, sweet, seared duck liver that comes with the Salade
Saveurs ($14*** ). The liver is perfect and as high quality
as you'll get, but the salad's greens were dressed
with an overly oily apple cider vinaigrette. Chestnut
puree, roasted apples and fig and dried apricot dice
finished the plate. Grilled hanger steak ($15 **1/2 ) doesn't
have to be this stringy and tough if the meat is chosen carefully.
Baby tat-soi, roasted fingerling potatoes enlivened
with bits of smoky bacon and a beef jus dip for
the meat were nice accompaniments. It was work getting the
steak to the point where it could be swallowed, though.
plate of sablefish ($12*** ) had no such problem. The buttery,
soft, white fish was cooked until just done but
not a tick past, which left it luscious and tender. This
is a deep-water fish found off the Pacific Northwest coast
up to Alaska. It came with the same potatoes and tat-soi
as the hanger steak, but with a mustard and chive
spread (that I didn't use because the fish was so delicate).
Besides the foie gras, the other house specialty is
the grilled duck breast ($14**** ).
I ordered it medium rare,
and that's just how it arrived, blackened on the surface,
nicely sliced, and plenty of it. The meat was tender
and flavorful -- its very dark red color implying
the rich stores of iron that duck meat provides. Because
this duck is free range at the San Joaquin facility,
is not frozen and is freshly killed, its quality
is perfect. It's served with the same potatoes and tat-soi,
and a black olive, onion and mustard-seed dip, which
I again avoided because the duck tasted so good
all by itself.
Although Sonoma Saveurs has its own pastry
chef, Chef Dumont had done the pastry honors the night
I visited, and she did herself proud. I could see
the fine influence of Laurent Manrique, internationally
known for his Basque and Gascony-inspired dishes,
in a luscious Gateau Basque ($6*** ), or Basque cake. A
wedge of this dessert featured a crumbly, toasty-nutty
crust of almond flour, wheat flour and almond butter
cream filled with an Amaretto creme.
and a mint sprig topped the wedge. Chocolate cake ($6***
) was a 2-inch-tall, 3 1/2 -inch-diameter cylinder
of pure chocolate joy -- almost fudge in the middle but
cakey toward the outside. It was decorated with
a pinch of mint chiffonade and a dollop of whipped cream.
Because I'd already had the terrine, I didn't try the house
specialty called the "Californian Paradox'' ($18),
named one supposes after the French paradox: How come
the French, who eat lots of rich, fatty food, have
such a low amount of cardiovascular disease? The answer seems
to be the phenolics in red wine, especially a compound
The Californian Paradox consists
of a slice of the foie gras terrine, a local blue
cheese, and a glass of late harvest sweet dessert wine.
Maybe they should give out resveratrol pills with this plate.
I did want to try the Trio of Salmon ($14), which
is salmon pastrami, smoked salmon and gravlax with potato
salad and aged balsamic vinegar, but the staff
said they were out, and the ingredients were " on
the way from a family in New Jersey that makes
them.'' According to Chef Dumont, the family in New
Jersey makes the salmon trio from Atlantic salmon,
which the Monterey Bay Aquarium has put on its "avoid''
list of seafood because of habitat damage and pollution
(see the entire list of seafood the Aquarium recommends
enjoying, being cautious of or avoiding at www.mbayaq.org).
Golly, between the foie gras and the fish and all, everything
is so political these days. Jeff Cox writes a weekly
restaurant review column for Q. You can reach him
Sonoma Saveurs Review
eGuillet.com - by Carolyn
January 16, 2004
Well - here's a review. Sonoma Saveur opened a few days before
Christmas and I have dined several times since then.
I meant to post this review a few weeks ago, but have been in throws of moving
(oh god, packing all those books!). I'll try and post pictures later, but wanted
to at least get the word out - this place is fabulous! Very reasonably priced
offerings with an informal service style, this will become a destination restaurant
for lovers of foie gras in the wine country.
You saddle up to the counter and place your order. If you are staying, they
give you a number to put on your table. If it is to go, you generally hang
around, waiting to chat to Laurent, Juny, or one of the other dignitaries now-frequenting
On my first visit (with the delightful Ms. Wolfert), we started with two foie
gras terrine offerings - the Artison Foie Gras Terrine au Naturel and the chef's
inspired Grilled-Foie Gras Terrine (she sears the slices before placing them
in the terrine). It is served with toasted country bread and date chutney and
we paired this offering with a glass of Château Rayne Vigneau Sauterne,
1er Cru Classe, 2000. Perfectly lovely. There are a variety of appetizer plates
offered, including a cheese plate, a Trio of Salmon, Rillettes, and the humorous "California
Paradox" which includes a slice of Foie Gras Terrine, a slice of local blue
cheese, and a glass of Late Harvest wine. These all range from $12.00 to $18.00.
As an entrée, we ordered two to share, both sandwiches: Grilled Fish
Sandwich with tomato confit, arugula, aïoli, and caper-cornichon tapenade
and a Grilled Duck Burger with arugula and tomato confit with gruyère
cheese. On the first visit, we found the duck burger to be a tad overcooked
and dry, but a subsequent visit provided an exceptionally moist, medium-rare
offering. These two courses were paired with a glass of Deerfield Ranch Sauvignon
Blanc, Sonoma, 2002 and a 2002 Candela Pinot Noir from Santa Rosa. These two
sandwiches are reasonably priced at $9.00 and $10.00 respectively and individual
glasses of wine range from $5.00 to $9.00.
Grill and Roti are also served throughout the day and include Squab, Chicken,
Duck Breast, Hanger Steak, and Fish of the Day. The Squab is delicate and tender
with a variety of flavorful herbs and I plan on going back this weekend for
the Duck Breast.
Dessert offerings are sufficient but hardly inspiring - all priced at $6.00
the restaurant offers Gâteau Basque, Warm Chocolate Cake, Lemon Tart,
and Seasonal Fruits. We tried a selection of three (everything but the fruit)
and it was suggested we try them accompanied with sweet wines. We were served
both a Bodega Bay White Port (nv) and Monte Volpe, 2000 Tocai Friulano. Of
the two, I preferred the Tocai but neither went with any of the desserts, in
my opinion. There are a number of additional dessert wines which is nice to
accompany the cheeses and foie gras and all are a little higher priced than
their reds or whites, from $8.00 to $14.00.
Before one heads out, a visit to the Charcuterie is necessary for the take-home
goodies. I have stopped in a number of times just to have some of the amazing
products at home. The Pâté en
Crôute a l'Orange has been
a big hit with guests but also offered include Pâté de Campagne,
Pâté with Truffles, Pâté with Port, Saucisson, Cacciatorini,
and Salmon offered as Pastrami, Gravlax, and Smoked. Then there are the Artisan
Foie Gras offerings...
Lastly, there is tangible joy in the restaurant. The trials and tribulations
that these people went through to get the restaurant open is not evident
but beaming smiles show the justifiable pride they should feel in providing
a great new place in Sonoma!
opens in Sonoma
SF Chronicle – by Kim Seversen
Aqua chef Laurent Manrique and his team at the new Sonoma
Saveurs couldn't have asked for a better Christmas present.
After months of lawsuits, political protests and a rash of
vandalism that terrorized his family, Manrique and his partners
in Sonoma Foie Gras, the company that raises ducks for foie
gras at a Stockton farm, opened the door Sunday on a small,
French-inspired foie gras shop and restaurant on the Sonoma
plaza. In addition to dishes that show off the liver and the
ducks from which they came, the shop offers a host of Sonoma
wines, cheeses and produce.
Foie gras is a classic dish from Gascony made from hyper-fattened
duck liver, and the process has been the target of violent
protests. Last month, some animal rights activists tried,
unsuccessfully, to persuade the Sonoma City Council to make
it illegal to sell foie gras in the county.
Sonoma Saveurs chef Mary Dumont offers dishes like seared
foie gras with chestnuts, pan-roasted apples and tangle of
greens; a Zuni-like roast chicken with a sauce of lemon, chicken
jus and a touch of honey; and meaty, crisply grilled slices
of duck breast. Diners walk in and survey a long cooler, where
a mix of sophisticated foie gras terrines, country pâtés
and duck rillettes are available to take out or eat in at
one of the French bistro tables scattered throughout. Diners
can also sit at the tiny wine bar or on stools facing the
Little touches like sides of pickled fennel and
pots of violet mustard add panache. So does a bit of humor
on the menu, like the "California Paradox" -- a slice of foie
gras terrine, a slice of local blue cheese and a glass of
late-harvest wine. Other offerings include saucisson made
by an associate in Brooklyn, a rich duck burger, and a gravlax
recipe from the Scandinavian family of Manrique's wife, Cathinka,
who also helps run the shop.
Sweets include an almond-scented Basque gateau with creme
fraiche. Wine suggestions are color-coded on the menu so neophytes
can wade through the list like a pro. Sonoma Saveurs,487
First St. West, Sonoma; (707) 996-7007. Open 11:30 a. m.-7
p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Starters and terrine plates, $6-$18;
entrees, $10- $15; desserts, $6.
to Come: Boxing Day, New Year's Eve
Published on December 25, 2003 © 2003-
The Press Democrat
BYLINE: Michele Anna Jordan
Sonoma Saveurs opens: Sonoma Saveurs
finally opened for business Dec 20. Because of vandalism
by animal rights activists a few months ago, news of the
long-planned restaurant has focused on Junny and Guillermo
Gonzales, who are partners in the endeavor, and the foie gras
Yet Sonoma Saveurs is a bistro, with a menu and daily specials
and seating inside and outside. It is a pretty place, with
golden walls and beautiful sconces of olive branches sculpted
in metal, several chalk boards and an espresso machine. Mary
Dumont, whose credits include time in the kitchen of San Francisco's
Elizabeth Daniel, is executive chef.
A retail boutique focuses mostly on local products, such
as oils and vinegars from BR Cohn and infused simple syrups
(vanilla; Meyer lemon; lavender; mint) from Sonoma Syrup
Co. A deli case offers an interesting selection of cheeses,
most of them local, a variety of pates, rillettes and sausages, prosciutto
and pancetta, duck confit and -- hallelujah! -- duck magret, both smoked
and unsmoked. Duck magret is European-style duck breast and is very easy
to prepare at home; the hardest thing has always been getting it.
In addition to daily specials, the menu features French onion
soup, duck confit salad, butter lettuce salad with bacon and
warm Red Hawk cheese, a grilled vegetable sandwich, grilled
duck burgers, grilled duck breast, fish of the day and, yes,
seared foie gras, served with roasted apples, chestnuts, greens
and apple cider vinaigrette. Prices range from
$6 to $15. A wine list is thoughtful, diverse and reasonably
priced. Sonoma Saveurs, 487 First St. W., Sonoma, 996-7007,
Preopening parties: Before opening, there
were two parties at Sonoma Saveurs, both packed. Chef Laurent
Manrique of Aqua, one of several partners, was on hand both
nights to delight revelers with his Gallic charm and engaging
French accent. Servers passed plates of rare
duck magret with red onion marmalade, toast with foie gras
terrine and tiny black bowls of yummy butternut squash soup.
There was a sumptuous buffet in a tent out back.
We were just leaving when we spotted a dramatic T-shirt.
Stop Tofu Abuse, it declared in gold-on-black above a picture
of a white duck. Beneath the duck: Eat Foie Gras.
What's the story? we asked the woman sporting the provocative
"Some of us were sitting around wondering what we could do
to help out,'' Jo Lynne Lockley explained, "and we decided
on a T-shirt.'' Lockley operates a placement service for chefs
and they were all concerned about an attack at the home
of Chef Manrique for his use of foie gras.
A tongue-in-cheek T-shirt may have seemed like just the thing,
but as soon as they went on sale, more attacks began.
"The tofu people are outraged,'' Lockley says, explaining
that the nonprofit organization that the T-shirts benefit
has been bombarded with complaints that the T-shirt disparages
tofu. If they hate this shirt, what would they have thought
of the slogans that were discarded: PETA Tortures Baby Tofus
and We Eat Foie Gras Only From Tofu-Fed Geese
were among those considered)?
For $20 you can purchase a T-shirt at chefsprofessional.com;
the nonprofit that it benefits wishes to remain anonymous
(though its logo appears on the shirt).