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Taverna Santi & Bistro Ralph report (Geyserville/Healdsburg)

David "Zeb" Cook | May 11, 200511:06 AM

Having spent last weekend in north Sonoma as a birthday present, I had a chance to try Taverna Santi and Bistro Ralph. Since I have learned so much from Chowhound, it seems only right to contribute.

Bistro Ralph (on the square in Healdsburg) was a prix fixe menu. Started with a thick mushroom/sherry soup with large slices of mushrooms (instead of salad) that was thickened with potato. For the main course I had lamb stew with nicoise olives, onions and carrots. It was thick, rich and meaty with lamb that tasted like lamb. My wife had roast pork chop with a sauce of dried apricots and a celery root gratin. She chatted with the chef and wound up getting two large chops single chops instead of the double cut normally served because he thought "one was a little small." Meat was moist but cooked through, just the way she likes it. Dessert was strawberry shortcake. The price per dinner was $29 dollars plus a bottle of grenache that went well with both. The room was small with a very open diner kitchen. The food and location made for a good bistro experience. A caution -- our innkeeper mentioned the quality can be uneven and the chef mentioned he is leaving in June, although we were there on a very good night.

Taverna Santi (in Geyserville) was the next night. We went with another couple which let us sample a little more. We started with three appetizers -- a plate of homemade salumni -- four small sets of different hard sausages. Unfortunately I negelected to ask what each was. Second was a crepe filled with duck meat, quite tasty, and the third was sweetbreads with morels. The sweetbreads were light and wonderfully flavored. For the main course, my wife opted lighter and had ravioli filled with spring nettles in a cream sauce -- delicate and herbaceous is her description. I had quail with morels (again!). Nicely roasted though it seemed to have more legs than a quail should be allowed -- but that could have beent the wine. Service was excellent -- nobody was rushed but the wine was always poured and dishes cleared when needed. It was certainly our best dinner of the trip. For four people, including 2 wines, desserts, coffees, etc. was around $250.

David Cook


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