>> Thursday, October 24, 2013
This is the eighth post in the “An Unforgettable Anniversary Weekend In Sonoma” series highlighting Sonoma Valley and surrounding areas. Other posts in this series include Addendum, El Dorado Kitchen, Basque Boulangerie. A Cycling Wine Tour Through Sonoma Valley, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Sonoma County Wine Weekend.
The Girl & the Fig was one of the few places that I had heard of before visiting Sonoma Valley. Owner Sondra Bernstein has done a phenomenal job growing her business. Starting from a small, French bistro in Glen Ellen California in 1997 (which moved to Sonoma Valley in 2000), The Girl & the Fig has since grown into a business that includes the bistro in Sonoma Valley, catering, two cookbooks (Plats du Jour and The Girl & the Fig Cookbook), and a line of Girl & the Fig artisanal products.
Despite the breadth of the business, the actual bistro still feels warm and cozy, like a comfortable neighborhood restaurant. We enjoyed dinner here our last night in Sonoma Valley, and we absolutely loved it.
If it's your first time, you have to try one of their signature cheese plates. We ordered "the works" ($18), which includes three selections of cheese (many are local, though there are cheeses from other places as well), cured meats, seasonal fruit, house-made fig cake, spiced nuts and toasted baguettes.
All the cheeses were excellent (we sort of trusted our waiter to recommend three different ones - a cow's milk, sheep's milk, and goat's milk cheese), and the accompaniments were great as well.
The Grilled Fig and Arugula Salad with Pancetta ($12) is another signature dish. We loved the complementary flavors in this dish - the sweet figs, the peppery arugula, the creamy chèvre, the toasted pecans, and the crispy, salty Mano Formate pancetta all tossed together in a fig and port vinaigrette. It was wonderful.
We also tried the seasonal Fried Green Tomatoes with Corn, which was a lovely dish showcasing seasonal late summer ingredients. Although the flavor combinations were not necessarily groundbreaking, the use of excellent ingredients and solid execution made this dish another winner.
Bryan ordered the Duck Confit, which came with spinach spaetzle, baby whole onions, and carrots. You can either order one leg ($15) or two legs ($24). We actually thought one leg was plenty, since it still came with a generous amount of sides.
I really enjoyed the spaetzle, and Bryan thought overall the dish was excellent.
Sole Meuniere ($25) is a classic French dish and they did it really well. The entire filet was stuffed with cello spinach and then cooked (baked? not sure) in a lemon caper brown butter sauce. The fish was beautifully soft and tender, and I really enjoyed how the bright "pop" from the lemon and capers cut the richness of the rest of the dish (the yukon potato puree and the browned butter sauce).
For dessert we had a Chocolate & Salted Fig Caramel Trifle ($7), which was served with Italian meringue and cocoa nibs. The fig caramel was pretty tasty. Overall the dessert was fine, but nothing particularly exciting.
I really like this restaurant for a number of reasons. First, I really like how there are many different kinds of options on the menu. You can sample a lot of different little bites, or choose to get one of those larger, heavier entrees. Second, I like how the restaurant itself encourages lighter grazing, even saying on its website "[w]ine flights paired with local artisan cheeses are a popular light meal."
Speaking of wine, the wine list focuses on Rhône varietals from either California or elsewhere. We enjoyed a cinsault from a tiny winery called Frick, which our waiter (who actually happened to be an abstract painter as well) called a "one-man show." This little winery up north in the Dry Creek Valley only produces 1400 cases of wine a year, crafted by hand using traditional winemaking methods.
Finally, I like this place because the food is excellent. I really enjoyed the focus on local and seasonal ingredients executed with solid French techniques. All of the food we had was great, and the restaurant's got a good vibe: it's rustic, relaxing, and comfortable. It's feels like such a quintessential wine country dining experience.
Definitely worth a visit.
The Girl & the Fig
110 W Spain St
Sonoma, CA 95476
Disclaimer: this trip was organized by the Sonoma County Visitor's Bureau. Some of the activities and meals in this series, such as the cost of this meal, were paid for by the organizers of the establishment.