I didn't find any other posts on Zina Lounge in Sonoma so I thought I'd briefly share our outstanding experience having dinner there. We've dined in some of the most well-regarded gourmet restaurants (e.g., Daniel, Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison Park, Meadowood, French Laundry, Manresa, etc.) that are at much higher price points so I came in with lower expectations for Zina Lounge. Yet I was incredibly impressed by this meal. I had a few quibbles, but overall I would rate this a "must-do" and plan to return to enjoy it again.
Zina Lounge is a wine tasting room by day and does not take walk-in diners. You must reserve the experience ahead of time. Chef Yoshiharu Sogi prepares a multi-course seasonal menu that he's designed to flatter Zina Hyde Cunningham and Ledson wines. They market it as a "Private Wine and Food Pairing." The "restaurant" is really just a few tables in the lobby of the Ledson Hotel in Sonoma.
Todd Lake, the manager, served us each course and poured the 6 different wines (plus the sparkling wine we enjoyed prior to dinner). We were the only diners last night so it felt like an exclusive private dining experience.
The first course was a trip of Hama Hama Oysters:
- one served "au natural" (with just a squeeze of fresh lemon)
- one with Sauvignon Blanc Ponzu, Pickled Radish, and Daikon Sprouts
- and one Prosciutto Wrapped with Humboldt Fog and Apple Honey Mignonette
This was accompanied by a generous pour of Zina Hyde Cunningham 2013 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, which was fantastic. I'm not much of a wine expert and I usually don't drink white wines, but this was an incredible pairing. I appreciated how Chef Sogi's trio each highlighted a different flavor profile that still complimented the Sauvignon Blanc. My favorite of the three preparation styles was the Prosciutto wrapped one. The strong flavors didn't overshadow the sweet oyster--which was such a surprise--and paired perfectly with the Sauvignon Blanc. I also like how he offered three preparation styles to showcase the wine and the oyster. Chef Sogi greatly impressed us with this first course!
The second course was a Kabocha Pumpkin Bisque, garnished with crispy applewood smoked bacon, parsley oil, and a toasted pumpkin seed tuile. I usually don't like Kabocha (it's a popular staple in my immigrant mother's Chinese cooking) but Chef Sogi's bisque was rich, complex, and soothing. It was paired with a Zina Hyde Cunningham 2013 Anderson Valley Chardonnay Reserve. I can't recall exactly how this tasted (I didn't take any notes last night), but I do remember thinking that the wine stood up well to the rich notes of the bisque.
The third course was the stand-out hit of the night: Soy Marinated Bodega Bay Black Cod, Cow Girl Creamery Mt Tam Ravioli, Slow Blanched Turnip, in a Sweet Soy Cranberry Sauce. The Black Cod was cooked perfectly--perhaps one of the best fish entrees we have ever had (I'm looking at you, Le Bernardin!). The fish had exceptional flavor and was well-balanced, despite my initial hesitation when I heard it was paired with a sweet cranberry sauce. I will say that I found the Ravioli had a peculiar texture--I can't recall what Todd said about it but I think that Chef used a wonton skin instead of a traditional pasta. I'm not always a fan of fusion and I think in this case, I would have preferred a traditional ravioli. The fish was paired with a Zina Hyde Cunningham 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, which had just the right body to stand up to the strong sauce.
The next course was a Tolenas Farm Quail and Trumpet Royale Mushroom Cabbage Roll over Saffron Nishiki Sushi Rice, Red Bell Pepper Coulis, and Spiced Raisin Quail Jus. I should state up front that I don't like cabbage (especially steamed chewy cabbage!) and I'm not a huge fan of poultry/game birds. Yet this was a surprisingly delicious entree! Again, like the prior course, the main element was wonderful but the sides were a bit unusual. I'm not sure about the saffron sushi rice--I am more accustomed to my saffron rice being looser and drier than sushi rice. It fell flat for me but I happily finished my cabbage roll. This dish was paired with Zina Hyde Cunningham 2010 Redwood Valley "Estate Old Vine" Veola. At this point in the meal, I think I lost track of the wine. Todd was very generous with the pours and I was getting sleepy!
The last savory course was a Beeman Family Ranch Akaushi "Wagyu" Filet Mignon, Roasted Baby Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Parsnip Puree, Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes, and Red Wine Shallot Demi Glace. I was actually disappointed by this entree after the prior 4 courses. First, I expected something else visually. I like a thick cut of meat, versus what felt like a very thin/low profile cut (it seemed thinner than a burger patty!). It didn't have the rich velvety texture I associate with filet because of the thinness of the cut. I also thought the Brussels Sprouts were a bit undercooked. I still finished my plate, but I remember thinking we should have ended the meal with the Cabbage Roll. This course was paired with Ledson 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Finally, dessert was a warm flourless chocolate cake, caramelized Hawaiian Pineapple, Toasted Almond and Hazelnuts, Orange Accented Custard Cream and Ledson Chocolate sauce. I took a few bites of this but it sounded much better than it tasted. I gave my port, Ledson 2014 Redwood Valley Zinfandel Port, to my husband to drink as I was done for the night.
Chef Sogi came out to greet us and we both told him how we enjoyed the experience and found it exceptional. It rivaled some of the best meals we've ever had. Moreover, at "only" $150/person for both food and wine, it is indeed the best value gourmet meal we've experienced.
Let me know if you have any questions.
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