Recently someone wrote about lunch places in Santa Rosa and mentioned the Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Cafe and Bakery.Since I've been there a few times for lunch and many times for pastries, here are my thoughts.
Timing is everything! The JC has a limited schedule and the CCB is more limited. Bakery hours are Wed-Fri 7:30-2. Cafe hours are Wed-Fri 11:30-2. Reservations required for cafe. Call 576-0279 or better yet, drop in after 10:30 and see what's available since they do get cancellations.
They've just started a Wednesday Buffet - "a selection of season spring delights" for $15 per person which includes beverage, dessert and tax. The menus on Thursday and Friday change weekly, but always include choice of 2 soups, 2 salads, 4-6 entrees, 3-4 desserts and beverages (great iced tea). Prices are about $3 for soup, salad, dessert and $7-10 for entrees. The entrees are fairly fancy since the students are training to be chefs. Here's one - Puff pastry wrapped chile relleno with a mild guajillo chile sauce filled with mozzerella cheese, mushrooms, onions and pine nuts served with a spicy slaw for $8. But it probably won't be there when you visit as menus do change weekly.
Timing is essential as the students leave between sessions and for holidays (April 14-16 is spring break). Cooking improves during the session, so pay attention. This is especially true for the bakery. Available daily are the breads, breakfast pastries & savory pastries which at session start can look not-so-savory, but rapidly progress within days. Other items are available during special courses. Right now the cakes are outstanding - a slice is $2.50- at other times you'll find cookies, candy, soup, custards and a variety of other yummy treats.
Pay attention not only to the cooking and calendar, but the clock. I go at 10:30 for the best selection of savory items and notice the breakfast pastries are waning. The Flying Goat coffee drinks are always available during bakery hours.
They can serve groups of up to 36 in a separate room. This is a converted brewery/restaurant on the corner of 7th and B Streets near the freeway and SR mall (free parking in Macy's parking lot). The acoustics are okay, you can watch the cooks and student art hangs in the hallway. I hope you'll enjoy it too.