My husband and I celebrated our anniversary at Applewood Inn in Guerneville last week. It was one of the best meals I've had in a long, long time! The setting is beautiful: it has kind of a woodsy yet sophisticated lodge atmosphere. It was not busy on a Thursday night, and service was very attentive and friendly. Our waiter was able to answer our questions about the dishes and to make intelligent wine recommendations. Even our busboy was personalbe and very efficent without being intrusive.
We both started with a curried carrot soup with brown butter. It was quite spicy, but the richness of the small amount of brown butter floated on top cut the spiciness. My only quibble (of the whole meal) was that I thought the spiciness somewhat overwhelmed the carrot flavor. It was absolutely delicious, I just wished that I could taste the carrot a bit more. I think this is a subjective comment though, as it was certainly identifiable as carrot, I just thought it was a little out of balance.
For my main, I had roast duck breast with duck confit hash and roasted brussel sprouts, and lightly dressed baby greens. I think it just might have been the best duck breast I've ever eaten. It was perfectly pink and SOOO tender. Again, this is a subjective preference of mine, but I really liked that there was almost no fat left under the flavorful skin. The hash and the brussel sprouts complimented the meatiness of the duck perfectly. The brussel sprouts were rich with a bit of carmelization. My husband, who dislikes brussel sprouts, still tasted one and pronounced it the best thing that could possibly be done to a brussel sprout! He had halibut served over a artichoke and chantrelle ragout with lobster fumet and lightly dressed watercress. I only got a tiny bite of halibut, but it was delicious and perfectly cooked so that it was moist with a slight crispness outside. We both liked the addition of the fresh and and light greens to provide a contrast of lightness and coolness to the rich mains.
With dinner we shared a bottle of Michel Schlumberger chardonnay. I know that most of you will think that was the wrong choice for duck, but I liked it very much. I thought that the richness of the chardonnay balanced well with both the spiciness of the soup and the meatiness of the duck. My husband was equally happy with the wine with the halibut.
Neither he nor I can resist a creme brulee so we both ordered the same dessert also. It was a Grand Marnier creme brulee with slices of blood orange, and it just couldn't have been better. He finished with an espresso and I with a dessert wine our waiter recommended, and I'm really sorry but I don't remember what it was. But the recommendation was spot on for the orange flavors of the creme brulee.
Total bill before tip was around $175 - not cheap, but we both agreed that we've certainly spent more and enjoyed it less. I would definately go back and indeed look forward to going back as soon as possible!