It's been a while since I've posted but with visitors in for the holidays, I've been out a lot these days. Went to the month-or-so old Dry Creek Kitchen in the new Healdsburg Hotel this past week. This is Charlie Palmer of Aureole's venture that is to focus on Sonoma county sourced foods and wines.An architect friend of mine says that the decor is "a la Pottery Barn"--that may be good or bad depending on how you feel about PB. I was more worried about how the tables were spaced: I saw many of the waitstaff having to twist and turn to get through the tables.Service-wise, I think a lot of what I experienced has to do with the restaurant only being a month old, and perhaps my sensibilities (I don't think one person's plate should be cleared at a time; the whole table should be finished before plates are cleared--otherwise, it has the effect of rushing the person who is still eating) but I was hopeful on the food-end given some of the things I tried.
--The amuse-bouche was a caramelized onion and white truffle panacotta. I adore white truffles but they were overpowered by the intense caramelized onion flavor. It was quite a sweet opener.
--Two of us had the warm potato and leek potage topped with an "herb salad," fried onions, and tomato oil. It was fine but not outstanding. The toppings really didn't add anything.
--One of us had pepper-crusted venison with huckleberries, butternut squash and a zin reduction for the main course. The meat was tender and flavorful, and the sauce was great with game. It was a great marriage.
-- Roasted cauliflower tortellini with brown butter was one of the vegetarian entree options. It had a lovely cauliflower flavor but perhaps too unctuous in texture. I think it would have been better as an appetizer for that reason.
--I had the tasting of Sonoma duck which was an appetizer. This included a seared piece of foie gras, a frisee salad with bits of duck confit and baby artichokes, and a duck liver flan. The duck liver flan was AWESOME. I was not actually looking as forward to that as much as the other components but it was etherally light and the egg and cream held the richness of the flavor of the liver while also mellowing it. I really thought it an excellent example of getting to the essence of a flavor and magnifying it.
--For dessert, we shared what was listed as a marzipan galette with caramel ice cream and apricots poached in dessert wine (I believe a muscat). The elements were put on the plate separately. I would have put them together, in part because the "galette" (which used puff pastry rather than a galette dough) was quite dry.