Monday, October 29, 2007

El Dorado Kitchen is Tops

We gathered many restaurant recommendations before our trip, and continued to receive them after we arrived as well. Since we aren't the last of the big spenders, we did not try any of the haute cuisine establishments such as the French Laundry, Mustards, etc, etc.

What we did try was one restaurant that was not recommended once by anyone we spoke with, but which we thought was far superior to the much-touted The Girl and the Fig which everyone recommended (ok, 4 out of 4 people recommended it--3 unsolicited recommendations). The El Dorado Kitchen has an inviting atmosphere, great acoustics, and the food was divine. I had plain old free-range chicken and it was impeccable. It was served with ricotta-stuffed gnocchi and braised leeks in a butter sauce. It also had the figs so who needs the girl with the figs anyway? Taster A had a beautiful rabbit dish, and I also had the chevre appetizer and we shared a dessert. Wine? I don't remember the wine...but, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I have retrieved that data from the restaurants wine list online: I had the hyde de villainede la guerra chardonnay from Carneros, and Taster B had the molnar family "poseidon's vineyard" pinot noir, also Carneros AVA. Both were excellent accompaniments to the food we ordered. We will go back again.

Not so much on our "will return" list is The Girl and the Fig. Perhaps a case of inflated expectations. We had a rave review from a patron on the night that we went to EDK: I believe he was french. He kept saying "It's tops." He even told us that the chef was a prick but, that he still had to eat there because it was so good. He had just had the duck confit and it was kiss-your-finger-tips (good). So, the next night, that's where we went. Besides the fact that we were seated on the laps of the couple next to us, and the server gave us 'tude, the food was so-so. Generally, everything was over-salted. I had the duck confit which was served with an arugula pesto. The duck was good (if a bit dry and salty); the pesto was good (again salty); but together, they were yucky. Same with the nice fennel and celery root soup: It was good soup but for the cut-grass flavored chive oil it was doused with. It sounded good but, it didn't work. Overall, we felt the menu was too contrived and dishes were ill-mated. If the food at El Dorado Kitchen was a harmonious symphony, The Girl and the Fig was like trying to listen to Classical while your roommate is blasting Jazz: Like 'em both but, not together (and not with so much table salt--oops, I said that already). If they had just used sea salt instead of table salt, I would have probably found the food much more to my liking.

Read the Wine Spectator's Review of El Dorado Kitchen.


Geo said...

Can you give suggestions on other Sonoma restaurants you liked?
(Visiting in a few weeks...)

Taster B said...

Hi Geo, There a plenty of higher end restaurants we didn't get to try. A good moderately priced restaurant is the place on the corner of Boyes Blvd (near the Fairmont Sonoma). It looks like a 50s diner from the outside but, they have nice dishes and a decent wine list.
For a great breakfast, try the cafe at the Sonoma Creek Inn. All the locals hang out there.
Have a great time in Sonoma! (I'm jealous!)