Single Thread Farm Restaurant and Inn — Healdsburg CA (3/2017)


The phrase “most anticipated restaurant opening” had been echoed by many publications, both food and non-food related) for several months prior to the opening and continue today as reviews come in.  I read about Single Thread Farm about a year ago and had been tracking their progress.  When they finally started taking reservations, I signed up for the whole experience for a Thursday night (room and dinner).  Weekend stays require a two-day minimum.  And dinner and the room are prepaid before arrival (although you can choose to order beverages at dinner).

This first part will cover the dinner experience as I normally would.  Afterwards, I’ll describe the hotel stay.

I booked an 8:30 pm dinner since I would be coming up from the city earlier in the day and didn’t want to stress making an early dinner seating.  They did contact me a few days prior to my dinner to offer an earlier seating for dinner, which I declined.

I walked downstairs from my room to the 1st floor reception desk.  They checked me in and then led me up to the 3rd floor roof deck.  The weather had just gotten nice enough for them to start using the roof for the pre-dining drink and snacks.  I must have been the only 8:30 reservation, as they seated me next to the fire pit and I noticed no one else was present on the roof.

They offered a glass of champagne to me as I looked over the Apéritif menu.  I declined and said I would just do wine at dinner.  They presented me with a ceramic glass with some chilled Sauvignon verjus (unripe grape juice) to begin the experience.  Soon after, they presented a trio of small bites to enjoy by the fire.

The first of the spring peas just became available and were used with farmer’s cheese and yuzu miso for  a slightly sweet and tart bite.  Beets roasted in a hearth for 4 days were served with tofu, winter citrus and charred kumquat. And to the left was a take-off on Japanese sendai rice cracker, only these were made with potato and tapioca with a filling of black truffle and mascarpone for a nice creamy and crunchy snack.

I was then led back downstairs to my table in the very nicely appointed dining room with a view of the open kitchen.

Once seated, I began thinking about the wine.  I had looked over the extensive wine list earlier in the day.  They offer a standard wine pairing and a reserve wine pairing.  They said their pairings provide for about 3.5 large glasses of wine over the course of the dinner.  That was still more that I probably wanted to drink.  So, I considered just ordering by the glass or selecting a fairly accessible bottle of Meursault (photos of several pages from their wine list appear at the end of this write-up).  After some additional discussion with the sommelier, I opted for the bottle of Meursault (I could take it with me since I wasn’t flying anywhere – I just had to tell them when I would like to cap the bottle).

The first presentation was a centerpiece adorned with several small dishes.  All of these were served cold or at room temperature.

The presentation represented late winter in Sonoma ingredients, a couple of which were from their farm, with the rest being fairly local in origin:  young broccoli form the farm with sesame dressing, steamed crab leg meat with spicy yuzu salt, lacto-fermented carrots on top of a black sesame cream, geoduck clam with kaffir lime gel, citrus-braised kohlrabi with Meyer lemon gel, mackerel cured in salt and gyokuro tea, a baby turnip from the farm, kumamoto oysters from British Columbia that were lightly pickled and served with some fresh wasabi, crispy potato “mess” with herb emulsion, and green garlic tofu panna cotta with asparagus and dashi.  This was a nice broad assortment of flavors and textures to start.

For the full write-up, click here.


Blue Hill — New York City (9/2016)


I hadn’t heard of Blue Hill before.  Chef Dan Barber was the subject of the second episode of the Chef’s table documentary series on Netflix.  I became intrigued about the beginnings of the farm-to-table movement and how this was trying to work at Blue Hill.  Though the episode was already a couple of years old, it was still a little tough getting a reservation on a weekend.  I did manage to book a late evening table on a Friday night via  Blue Hill has one Michelin star.

They offer three choices for food options.  There is the regular tasting menu of the listed items (on the left), an extended menu with additional unlisted items, and a 4+ course menu with selections to choose from for three of the courses.  I chose the extended Farmer’s Feast option for maximum sampling.

The wine list was nicely arranged with a wide selection of wine with many French wine choices.  They had a white Burgundy by the glass, which was my selection.  The bottles of white were sub-categorized by characteristics.  There were several Mersaults with quite a range of prices.

The first bite was a whole habanero pepper.  It was special in that it was bred not to be spicy hot to let the true flavor come though.  There were no seeds inside and only a hint of spiciness when tasting the part closest to the stem.

The next plate was a plate painted with a vinaigrette to use a kind of flavoring to go with the fresh summer vegetables.

The next small bite was a tomato and corn tart.  This was followed by a grilled fruit that looked like a fig, but wasn’t called that.

For the full write-up, click here.

Dabbous 2nd Visit — London (6/2014)


A couple of years ago, I had dined at Dabbous.  I only managed to get in at lunch as a last-minute walk-in.  While it was good, I had only been able to dine from a fixed tasting menu.  So I wanted to come back at some point for dinner and experience some of the dishes it had been featuring since its opening.  I finally managed to get a dinner reservation.  However, I did not realize that they had done away with the a la carte menu, leaving only a tasting menu or variations from that.  I was told that about a year prior, they did away with the a la carte menu as very few people were asking for it, thereby wasting prep time and food resources.

Even though it was not the menu I was expecting, I still found several items interesting.  And I certainly wasn’t going to give up the opportunity for a meal there, given that it was still a tough seat to get.

For the full write-up, click here.

abc Kitchen — New York City (3/2013)



It has been on my list to try and get to abc Kitchen for a little while.  It’s not a molecular gastronomy restaurant and doesn’t have any kind of tasting menu.  But it is a very popular farm-to-table restaurant in Manhattan.  Prior to arriving in New York, I had tried to book a table for one with, but there was nothing available.  But I decided to look again after getting to New York, and they must have released several early-dining tables for one night because I was able to get a table for one.

 For the full write-up, click here.

Dabbous — London (8/2012)



I had been trying for several months to book a table at this restaurant to no avail.  It has been written up as one of the “hottest” new restaurants on London, doing some innovative things with food at a relatively reasonable cost.  I then found out that they were already booked into early next year (over six months from when I was trying in the summer).  One online commenter said to try showing up close to when they open for dinner and MAYBE there was a chance of an open table.  So, I showed up at 5:45pm on a Friday evening.  They were very friendly but said nothing was available that evening.  But, they did suggest trying at the end of the lunch seating the following day (around 2pm) as a possible way of getting a seat.  The next day, that strategy worked, and they found a table for me at 2pm.

I discovered that one of the reasons it is so difficult to book a table is the size of the restaurant.  It is smaller than I expected, with only around 10 tables.  The ground floor is the restaurant, while the basement has a large bar area, where they also serve food (but not the full menu). The décor is basic industrial chic.

The menu focuses on fresh local ingredients.  

For the full write-up, click here.