Last spring Jim and Bettie Hall bought The Generals Daughter hiring Chef Preston Dishman. Dishmans food reminds me very much of the young Bradley Ogden when he was still in the kitchen at Lark Creek.
Owners and chef are from the Southeast and bring with them gracious Southern hospitality and a delicious Southern influence on stellar California ingredients.
At last some original menu ideas like the Stone ground grit cake & Bodega Bay rock shrimp with Tabasco butter or Creole spiced Wild Alaskan Halibut, hoppin john, andouille, crayfish.
There is more background information in the link to a review by the Press Democrat below. The description of the Flatiron steak and fries in the review highlights it as one of the best versions of steak frites in the Bay Area.
Everything about Generals Daughter reminds me of the old Bizou which was my favorite restaurant during its decade long run. The rooms are elegant and romantic, the staff professional and well trained, the bar is cozy and the food creative and outstanding.
There isnt a website, so the dinner menu is at the end.
The grilled Frog Hollow Peach Salad with arugula, blue cheese and warm bacon vinaigrette was an inspired combination.
The lightly grilled peaches, slightly smoky, were heated just enough to bring an extra juiciness to the slices. There was a whisper of the warm bacon vinaigrette with pieces of bacon. It so perfectly and lightly dressed the salad that the greens did not wilt. A bite of peach, bacon dressed greens & blue cheese good, good goooood.
I read the Press Democrat review while waiting for the restaurant to open and was undecided between the steak and salmon. My server guided me to the perfectly cooked California Wild King Salmon from local fisherman Ray Lanus. It was served on a light but intensely, gloriously flavored wild mushroom sauce with chippolini onions, fresh peas and lots of wonderful sliced wild mushrooms. Excellent.
The dessert was the best fig dish Ive had all season.
Laloo fig ice cream was paired with warm roasted and caramelized fresh figs and topped with mascarpone and some lovely type of sweet cracker that had the texture and crunch of corn flakes.
This was my first taste of Laloo which is a goat milk ice cream and I liked it very much. Some people have said they could taste the goat milk, but given the combination of this dish only the true fig flavor and creaminess stood out.
There were light airy potato rolls from Sonomas Basque Bakery. My server said they buy the dough and then bake the rolls in-house.
I requested the wine flight to be paired with dinner and the selections were excellent. Im not a wine person, so I didnt take notes, but a sweet white was perfectly matched with the peach salad. What I really loved was the selection of a dry flinty white that was the perfect transitional wine to the pinot that was paired with the salmon. For dessert, who could have thought that dessert could be improved, but the port made a heavenly dessert, divine.
The restaurant is the loveliest that Ive visited in Sonoma. The outdoor dining option was tempting a patio under an old grapevine, tables on the porch surrounding the Victorian house and a larger patio. As evening descended, hurricane candles were put on each table and they glowed romantically. Heat lamps are available for chilly nights.
According to the review below the restaurant décor hasnt changed. There is a cozy bar with two four seat tables and seven seats at the bar. The dining area is separated into rooms with well spaced tables and is elegant yet homey and comfortable. There are stylish paintings of farm animals on the walls, one of cows being herded by a dog, others with chickens, geese and a shy pig poking its head out of a gate.
Large sunny windows look out on the green trees and garden surrounding the restaurant.
One of the owners, Betty Hall, introduced herself to everyone in the bar that was waiting for dinner. She warmly shook everyones hand and chatted a bit. I can only think of Chapeau in San Francisco that has an owner with so much charm. Nothing was overdone. The servers were professional yet warm, helpful and welcoming.
They are serving Thanksgiving Dinner and thats where I plan to spend mine in this charming restaurant with porches decorated with a few pumpkins and cornstalks enjoying what I suspect will be a fabulous holiday feast.
Heres tonights menu, excluding specials
TO WHET THE APPETITE
Season oysters on the Half shell (they were good ones tonight but the name escapes me)
Sonoma Country Artisan Fois Gras (daily preparation again, didnt take notes. However the description was so delicious and unique that even though I dont eat fois gras, I wanted it badly).
Chefs Nightly selection of Soup
Hand Cut Spicy Pacific Tuna Tartare, green apple salad, sriracha aioli
Stone ground grit cake & Bodega Bay rock shrimp with Tabasco butter.
Homemade mushroom ravioli, sweet garlic, sun dried tomatoes, Vella romanello
Selection of Artisan cheeses and Accompaniments
FROM THE GARDEN
Baby Romaine Salad, smoked bacon, roasted garlic, blue cheese vinaigrette
Chilled Roasted beets, living watercress, goat cheese dressing
Grilled Frog Hollow Peach Salad, arugula blue cheese, warm bacon vinaigrette
Tangle of Market Lettuces, oak hill carrots, organic cucumbers, pickled onions
Salad of Local Heirloom Tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs, balsamic
LOCAL WATERS AND BEYOND
California Wild King Salmon from Ray Lanus, fresh peas, cippolini onions, wild mushrooms
Creole spiced Wild Alaskan Halibut, hoppin john, andouille, crayfish
Wild Shrimp and Jumbo Lump Crab, leeks, roasted peppers, sherry cream
Pan seared Mountain Trout, summer succotash, lobster beurre blanc
Bronzed Lions Paw Scallops, potato puree, creamy garlic spinach, bourbon bacon butter
FIELD AND FOREST
Chargrilled Painted Hills Flat Iron, pommes frites, béarnaise aioli
Orange Chipotle Glazed Sonoma Duck Breast, local corn, bacon, shitakes
Grilled Natural Pork Porterhouse, wilted backyard greens, ham hock vinaigrette
Spice Grilled Colorado Lamb Loin Chops, ratatouille, olive basil butter
Skillet Seared Natural Chicken, cheddar polenta, natural jus
Pan Roasted Veal Medallions, prosciutto, porcini risotto, lemon sage butter
Pan Seared Prime Loin Fillet of beef, fingerling cheese fries, red wine jus
Frozen bourbon chocolate parfait with hot fudge sauce
Local Honey and Champagne Sabayon with fresh berries
Scharffen Berger dark chocolate hot pot
Fiorello gelato (one of the flavors today was green apple)
The General's Daughter
400 W. Spain St. (Fifth St.)
Sonoma, CA 95476
Bar open for cocktails from 5 pm
Diner Service from 5:30 pm
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