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Kenwood: Vineyards Inn - Sturgeon chowder, Spanish tapas, Basque dinners, vegan menu and the greenest restaurant in the valley.

rworange | Nov 2, 2009 11:32 AM

It is the type of place at anyone would be delighted to find if driving through the Basque countryside. That small, rustic, seldom mentioned restaurant serving delicious food at good prices by a warm and welcoming staff.

There is a vine-covered room next to the small bar (which has a fireplace). These are no dusty plastic or fake slik vines but live vines which at this time of year had plump, deep-purple bunches of grapes hanging from it. There is also a gurgling fountain.

There is a $10 three-course blue plate special with non alcoholic beverage at lunch (11:30 – 3). There is also a vegan menu if you ask.

On the second Tuesday of each month there is a $40 six-course Basque dinner with unlimited wine that is served family style. The rotating recipes are from Chef Esteban’s family.

The dinners are by reservation only and are popular and booked months in advance A party of 12 or more can make special arrangement for Basque diners at other times. There is no vegan option for these dinners though.

While the prices don’t look like such a deal, all the meat is organic as are most of the wines. On the day I stopped three wine specials were available for $5-$6 a glass.

The veggies are grown at the restaurant’s organic, biodynamic farm, Rose Ranch

Entrees come with soup of the day or house salad, homemade organic noodles in Rose Ranch lemon tomato –roasted garlic sauce & steamed organic cabbage ‘n carrots

That is what made me stop. I was doing the rounds of Sonoma farms and a sign outside the restaurant advertised organic veggies. Inside there was a table in the corner with eggplant, squash, basil, peppers and a few other items grown on the ranch.

Since I was there I asked to look at the menu and saw the Basque dishes in addition to Spanish tapas and a few Mexican dishes thrown in for good measure.

I had a huge brunch and was contemplating take-out for later when the soup of the day was mentioned. I really wanted to sit in that room with the grape vines. It was lovely. The unthickened fish broth was full of cubed carrots, potatoes other veggies, herbs and lots of fish. It came with four small slices of toasted bread … perfect and only five dollars.

I was alone and when I sat down the server came by with a magazine to read. That was so thoughtful and the only place that ever made a similar offer in all the years of dining solo was Silks in SF.

I asked how long they have been in business .... 28 years.

Here’s the blurb from the menu about their green policy The restaurant record link as the website with menu.

“We have been proudly selected as the Greenest restaurant in the entire San Francisco Bay Area! … We raise most of our vegetables throughout the year at our Rose Ranch here in Kenwood — certified organic and certified biodynamic. Much of our produce we process and store for winter. We try to buy local produce certified organic when available. All of our fresh fish arrives four to five times a week — organic & line caught, never netted nor farmed … The beef and poultry we serve is certified organic and our lamb is awaiting final certification. Dairy goods are organic and purchased locally from Clover Stornetta Farms allowing us to make organic ice creams in house! Our organic eggs are from nearby Petaluma Farms. All our Artisan cheeses & butter are handcrafted organically from local Spring Hill Jersey Farms in Petaluma. … We compost our straws, placemats and cocktail napkins. All of our waste can liners and to-go containers are of a compostable corn product. All pre- and post-consumer waste goes into our compost machine. The more oysters you order the greener our gardens get! Every time you order our fish entrees the bones enrich our soils! We recycle everything possible. Colleen creates landscape gravels from all of our wine, liquor and beer bottles. As a result, we
have reduced our landfill waste by 99%. We attempt to conserve energy whenever possible which is why our lightingis fluorescent”

Vineyards Inn
8445 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452

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