Yesterday was the first nice day we have had in about a week. The sun came out, the trees were wearing the myriad shades of red and gold of autumn, and I met for lunch with Anna of Anna's Cool Finds. Anna writes the best restaurant reviews of lots of places in Marin County, so it is always a little daunting to write a review of a place where we have lunched together. She is also looking really good...due in part, no doubt, to her adherence to the South Beach Diet. Way to go Anna! No photos yet since she is getting better and better looking each time I see her, so the best is surely yet to come. She is also a super nice person and good conversationalist. I'll admit that we talked about a lot of things besides the food.
We met just off the square in the quaint town of Sonoma, the site of the Bear Flag Revolt that led to California becoming a state. It is in the county of Sonoma, so it's Sonoma, Sonoma, CA. To get there we both had nice drives through the vineyards that blanket the area. The vines have mostly been relieved of their grapes and the leaves have changed to fall colors so there is row after row of vines in shades of gold or burgundy.
The restaurant for October is The Red Grape, which is known far and wide as the place with the New Haven Style Pizza. My nephew was with us last night and as soon as I told him the name of the restaurant, he said that he had been told that it had the only decent pizza in the Bay area...of course he is from New Haven, Connecticut, so there might be a bias.
Despite the lure of the pizza, I was drawn to the soup and salad combo. I had the Tomato Basil Soup, a perfect choice since tomatoes are in season and quite delicious right now, plus their Gorgonzola Salad. (Note to Peabody: Yes, this was the Soup of Death, but still pretty looking.)
Anna had the same soup and salad combo, but she chose a savory herbed clam chowder to go with her salad. They had other salads to choose from but, as you can see from the photo, this one was really a great choice. The dressing was light, the cheese pungent, the grapes very seasonal, and those nuts were just a little spicy and nicely crunchy.
As I had suspected, the tomato soup had a full, deep tomato flavor, plus a nice complexity from basil and garlic. The texture was velvety and light, but not watery. On top there was a chiffonade of basil which added a good basil punch, and a few herbed croutons that added a nice crunch.
Although they had a nice array of dessert offerings, we both found that the salad and soup were enough for lunch. The service was good and the restaurant itself was airy and bright, if a bit noisy from the nearby large group which were giving sports team awards to some delightful kids.
If you find yourself in Sonoma, CA, the town, do try the Red Grape Restaurant, just off the square. Next time I'm going to try the pizza...I'll let you know how it is.The Red Grape Restaurant
529 First Street West
Sonoma, CA 95476
Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11:30 am