By Glen and Mary Frederiksen
Over the years, it has become a tradition for the two of us to celebrate special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries by dining out at fine restaurants. Whenever we can pair the dinners with a trip to the wine country, all the more better!
We have enjoyed fine meals at a dozen or more high-end restaurants in the Napa Valley. However, the pickings are a bit slimmer over in the Sonoma Valley.
For nearly a decade, we loved going to Cyrus restaurant just off the square in Healdsberg. With its closure at the beginning of this year, our hearts were saddened. What could replace the Michelin Two Star eatery when we are in the Sonoma area?
Then we heard about a French bistro styled restaurant called Centre du Vin, located in the Ledson Hotel on the Sonoma Square. The same people who own Ledson Winery just a few miles away have fashioned an ultra-premium Bed and Breakfast on the second story, with a restaurant on the first floor. Walking inside is like entering a Paris bistro circa World War II. Good food and wine! Sounds like a winner…
After a morning breakfast, then lunch at Hess Collection as we went through a number of wines, we were looking for a tasty light bite to complete a fine anniversary day.
We were greeted by the staff and shown to a lovely table at the front of the dining room.
Our first course was a sumptuous shrimp cocktail. The sauce had just the right amount of chili spice. With this dish, we sipped on glasses of NV Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé ($10 a glass). Perfect!
Next came a cheese plate with toast points and fruit slices. Good-sized wedges of goat cheese Brie, Rogue River Presidente Blue, and Humbolt Fog ($13) were lip-smacking good.
Glen ordered the specialty of the evening, a Halibut and Mussel Bouillabaisse in a fragrant tomato broth of leek, fennel and saffron ($26). Not a morsel of this delectable treat was left in his dish.
I opted for an expertly prepared Croque Monsieur ($13). Ham and Gruyere cheese were layered on sweet sliced French bread brushed with Dijon mustard and covered with creamy Bechamel sauce, then finished under the broiler until golden and bubbly. Perfection!
True to the spirit of a wine-centric bistro, the wine list is well thought out, features many wines by the glass, and the prices are quite reasonable. In fact, there are two wine lists – one featuring Ledson Winery bottlings, and the other a nice cross-section of North Coast wines, with a few gems from other regions sprinkled in.
Sadly, we did not have any room for dessert. Be assured, on our next visit there we will certainly try their Crème Brulee.
If you are ever in Sonoma and find yourself near this restaurant, do yourself a favor and pop in for a wonderful dining experience!
Centre du Vin
480 First Street East
Sonoma, CA 95476