"This is my restaurant find of my life. I doubt I will ever equal it," says rworange at the end of a review of Vineyards Inn, an "unknown, unsung place, oozing charm where the food is top-notch, plentiful, inexpensive and served by a warm, welcoming staff."
The second Thursday of each month brings a six-course Basque dinner, served family-style with unlimited wine for $40.
The menu draws from Chef Steve's family recipes, and the deceptively simple descriptions don't do justice to their deliciousness. The ingredients are all organic and many of them are grown by the restaurant. "Steve talked about each dish as someone who really enjoyed the whole process from growing the produce, selecting top-notch vendors and cooking the meals," rworange says.
Garlicky chard with chopped egg whites. Roasted chicken with rich jus. Tender lamb shanks with greaseless French fries that had roasted-potato flavor. Basque chicken soup with chicken from the farm, elevated by some just-picked rosemary. "I love simple, rustic food that relies on top-notch flavorful ingredients. This meal was one of the best examples of that," rworange says.
The chef's mother-in-law contributed a buttery pound cake drizzled with chocolate sauce, served with a rich, deep coffee from Tom and Dave's, a San Rafael roaster.
While not high-profile, these dinners are really popular and booked months in advance. Parties of 12 or more can book their own Basque dinners at other times. But the communal dinners are great fun and very welcoming.
Vineyards Inn [Sonoma County]
8445 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood