Hits All of the Dining and Festive Notes…
It’s always a little disappointing to be told there’s no room at the inn in the summertime. Doubly so when you tour the grounds of the place and find it a fantastic place to stay. But the Vinters Resort’s former marketing director, Tyffani Sedgwick, was a total pro and gracious when she told me, “I’m so sorry. We’d love to have you, but it’s wedding season and right now we are just booked solid into September.”
But being the pro that she is, Tyffani got us into the Vinter Resort’s flagship restaurant, John Ash & Co., without a problem which made for a terrific dining experience. I always love a restaurant that combines the atmosphere of professionalism with a certain air of fun. And you could just feel that vibe as we were led to an outdoor table with the perfect evening, twilight temperature. (Side note, northern California has got the best temps for outdoor dining in the evening from April to Oct). Most of the tables were full of returning diners who obviously thought the John Ash Co. restaurant was a cool spot.
While the web gal ran around taking pics of the property, she was delighted to find the house cat, Matilda, while I ordered us a starter of Calamari and Housemade Parker house rolls, served with melted butter and Maldon sea salt. I don’t know when bread and butter got so demonized, but we found our starters delicious without getting stuffed.
For our mains, the web gal loved her roasted corvina seabass, which came with Sevillano olives, oven dried Parson’s tomatoes, fennel, orzo, and a “Bloody Mary” butter sauce. Pour moi, I can never turn down a rack of lamb if it’s garlic and herb crusted, combined with green beans, Cipollini onions, potato gratin and lamb demi. BACA Cat’s Cradle Zinfandel paired nicely with the lamb. All the while our waiter provided excellent service, knowing just when to ask if everything was good, what we needed or wanted, had some laughs with us and finally asked what we wanted for dessert?
I’m not big on dessert, but I had seen a Meyer Lemon Mousse, poppy seed chiffon, huckleberry jam, lemon meringue and sugar frosted almonds confection floating by our table, so I thought, what the hell, why not order it? Our helpful waiter said to the web gal if you like desserts, you got to have the special tonight, a peach drenched, upside down cake. Pour moi, the Meyer Lemon Mousse was really smooth, tasty and lemony, I could only finish about half of it before my teeth started to hurt from all that sugar as I am not a sugar fan, while the web gal had no problem finishing every bite of her peach concoction, all the while exclaiming between bites how delicious it was.
Before we left, Sous Chef Gino Guerrero came out of the kitchen to do the NSI quiz. Cheers and enjoy…
What was last night’s dinner? Lasagna, here at the family meal. Chow down in five minutes and got back to the grill.
What’s your favorite drink? I like a good whisky, with Weller being my favorite.
What’s your favorite music? I like bluesy, rock n roll. Play the Stones, I’m happy.
What’s your favorite restaurant to dine in Sonoma besides John Ash? I really like Valette in Healdsburg. Just a perfect dining experience, low key, with excellent food.
What makes a great restaurant? You have got to create team morale. If the kitchen or wait staff don’t get along it’s not going to work. Get them on the same page, it’s night and day.
Any wine, trip or restaurant on your bucket list? I’m going home to Peru to see my family. Don’t know when or if I’ll come back, but really looking forward to it.
Favorite thing about working and living in Sonoma? I love the community and the purveyors who bring such fresh ingredients to our restaurant.
Any brush with celebrity? Barry Bonds used to come in here all the time, and I think he still does. Nice guy, low key. We treat everyone the same.
Final thoughts? Enjoy the ride. Our job as chefs is to make the food ride as enjoyable as possible.