487 First Street West, Sonoma, California 95476 Tel: 707.996.7007
Fax: 707.938.0496 info@sonomasaveurs.com

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Sonoma Saveurs

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

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 Chronicle

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.



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.  

Eat your foie gras heart out

Patricia Unterman
Special To The Examiner
Published on Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Before 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 menu.

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 oven.

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 county.

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

Published on February 22, 2004 © 2004- The Press Democrat

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.

The other 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.

There were 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 green.

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.

A 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.

Whipped cream 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 called resveratrol.

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 at jeffcox@sonic.net.

Sonoma Saveurs Review

eGuillet.com - by Carolyn Tillie
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 the restaurant.

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!

Saveurs shop opens in Sonoma

SF Chronicle – by Kim Seversen
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

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 open kitchen.

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.

Still to Come: Boxing Day, New Year's Eve

Published on December 25, 2003 © 2003- The Press Democrat
BYLINE: Michele Anna Jordan
COLUMN: Mouthful

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 they produce.

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, sonomasaveurs.com.

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 shirt.

"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).