Oh gosh, I thought I had shared this with you long ago, but I just found it listed as a draft in my posts folder. My apologies! Technical difficulties, I suppose.
On our Sonoma County jaunt while I was home over the summer, my mom and I had dinner at Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, about 40 minutes north of San Francisco on 101. I enjoyed it very much and could see myself returning for the vegetable-centered small plates and salads. They also had a large gluten-free menu for my mom (complete with gluten-free crackers as an option for the cheese flights).
We both had a peach salad with arugula and ricotta cheese to start. Then we shared two small plates: Tunisian-roasted local carrots with olives, pine nuts, and mint, along with fava bean bruschetta with lemon, mint, and burrata. I loved the pop of lemon in the fava bean mixture, which I liked best on its own, scraped off the bread. The carrots were delicious. And ginormous, as you can see from the picture above. Our cheese flight was served with crisp crackers, toasted walnut bread, white truffle honey, and an onion spread so tasty that we were tempted to ignore the cheeses and eat it alone.
I liked Willi’s casual atmosphere too. It’s not a place for a quick meal and the waiters and menu were “fine” enough to be called fine dining, but there was definitely a comfortable California wine country vibe as well. We were seated on a covered deck, overlooking an apple tree and modern sculpture. Neatly-rolled blankets lined a wooden bench behind our table, thoughtfully placed to fend off evening chills and invite you to linger a bit longer. There were other outdoor tables in an open courtyard (pictured above), and seating inside as well.
If find yourself in the North Bay, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Willi’s Wine Bar as restaurant where both vegetarians and meat-eaters could order happily or a setting for after-work drinks and nibbles with friends. Don’t miss the quirky murals of fashionable ladies in the restroom!