In need of lunch and a hair of a dog after a wine tasting, we decided to try out Spoonbar in downtown Healdsburg. The menu was short, sweet and to the point, but you have to love a restaurant when their cocktail list has twice as many items as their food menu.
Earlier this spring, they hired Executive Chef Louis Maldonado to run the kitchen. He has a lot of great experience including stints at the now-defunct Cortez (where he earned a Michelin Star), French Laundry, Cafe Majestic (also closed) and most recently at Aziza as Chef de Cuisine. The ultra-seasonal bar program is managed by Daniel “Cappy” Sorentino. You know they are serious about cocktails when they have this many tinctures lined up along the bar:
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The long wooden bar was empty and beckoned us to sit awhile and have a drink or two along with some bites to eat. It took us some time to determine what to order from a selection of about 20 different drinks, categorized as Seasonal, Classics with a Twist and Original cocktails. We were pleasantly surprised to find our whiskey-based favorites, Remember the Maine and Vieux Carre, as standard offerings on their menu.
As big fans of the Negroni, we ordered the twisted classic Miller’s Negroni (Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin, Gran Classico Bitters, Carpano Antica Vermouth) which tasted perfectly balanced. Unable to select a second drink, Bartendress Tara suggested going with their Doctor, Doctor #2 (Clear Creek Apple Brandy, Lexington Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Apple Juice, Cinnamon, Star Anise) — this drink was definitely what the doctor ordered for a cold and wet winter day. The dried apple chip was a nice bonus:
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As a bar snack to go with the cocktail we ordered the Chicken Crackling. The crispy chicken skins were served like flat tortilla chips dotted with buttermilk and dill dressing. Lightly dusted with spice, it was the right amount of salt and pepper to make you want to drink more:
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From the abbreviated 8 item lunch menu, we selected the crispy rock shrimp romaine salad dressed with dill crème fraîche. Heavily studded with lots of tasty batter-fried shrimp, we were able to use our forks to spear a lettuce leaf, a shrimp and a pickled red onion for each bite. The pickled red onion added nice acidity to the perfect bite:
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We split a glass of a Southern Italian Negroamaro to go with our Ribeye Torta that came dressed with garlic aioli, red radicchio slaw and tomato jam. The kitchen knows their way around a fryer since the fries were crispy good (click on the fries to check out the Lytro living picture refocusing capability):
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The steak sandwich was really good; however, the tomato jam sweetness was a little overpowering — next time, we’ll order the jam on the side. Lifting the lid of the dutch crunch roll revealed the perfectly rare ribeye within:
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We were mighty impressed with their spirits binder, where every type of distillation included a brief but educational write-up. Their single malt scotch list is one of the best we have seen in the Bay Area, and we selected a shot of Murray McDavid Auchroisk 15-year cask strength to finish our meal. We were intrigued with this particular Scotch as it was aged in Guigal Côte-Rôtie casks, one of our favorite wines from Northern Rhone:
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Tara ended our lunch with an infused liquer of her own making: Pomincello, a pomegranate-laced limoncello. This was the perfect dessert for us:
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We have a saying where we tell each other, “We could drink this bar,” after surveying the spirits and what they have to offer (and what they intentionally do not stock). We easily could drink Spoonbar and make a meal out of their cocktails alone. We will be up for the challenge next time.