I took a friend out for her birthday to Sonoma Station in Richmond last night. It's in the old Blue Seal feed store right by the railroad tracks (and for whatever reason, the train rumbling by a couple of times during the meal didn't bother us at all). We had a very good experience overall, though some dishes were at a much higher level than others.
It felt like the menu was designed by two different chefs. I started with a salad of mixed greens, pecans, apples, cheddar, red onions, maple balsamic vinaigrette, and apple fritters. The salad was fresh and well-balanced, but the fritters didn't quite work for me in the dish. They were good fritters, just didn't mesh very well with the greens. My friend's app was amazing, though--pea green and prosciutto ravioli with a cream sauce well-enhanced by shiitake mushrooms. A warming, rich dish, well-balanced by the fresh pea green shoots and mushroom accents throughout.
We had a similar discrepancy with out main courses. I'll say first that my protein was outstanding--a fresh, rare tuna fillet crusted in black pepper and lavender, served with a Barenjager beurre blanc. (Barenjager is a honey liqueur.) The lightness of the honey and lavender complimented the meaty tuna and zing of black pepper. But again, the remainder of the dish was just . . . fine. It was garlic mashed potatoes and fresh green beans, both very well-prepared, but much like garlic mash and green beans at a thousand other restaurants. However, my friend's dish was absolutely fantastic throughout--chicken with a butternut, bacon, and leek risotto, a little baby spinach, and some parmagiano reggiano and white truffle oil thrown in with the chicken jus. That was hands-down the best risotto I've ever tasted--earthy and creamy, with a strong chicken flavor throughout.
I plan to go back at some point, and I think I'll skip the desserts. They weren't bad, they just weren't on the same level as the rest of the food here. There was a lemon bread pudding that just wasn't very pudding-like--more like chunks of pound cake kind of held together with a creme anglaise. I had a slice of ricotta cheesecake that seemed kind of bland after all the other tasty things I had tried.
We didn't have wine, though my friend tried a plumtini. We've both tended bar in the past, so we took turns trying this and passing judgment. :) It was a good drink, but we didn't think the muddled plums, vodka, and sparkling wine combo should have been served in a cocktail glass; the plums settled toward the bottom before they had released enough flavor and the drink kept having to be restirred, but we didn't have a cocktail stirrer. Using a cocktail shaker, then pouring the already cold ingredients over rocks in a collins glass might have worked better. However, they make an outstanding cosmo--very flavorful, with the right balance of orange and lime and not overhwelmed by cranberry. I enjoyed one of my favorite indulgences with dessert--a strong glass of ruby port.
The two starters, two mains, two desserts, and a couple of drinks came to a little over $100 with tax. Service was attentive and thoughtful, and I was impressed with the kitchen's speed given the customer load. The place was busy, casual and a little loud for a a good New American dining experience, but hey, you're in a feed store. :)