After Melanies inquiry last week about this little place, I decided to pop into Water St. Bistro for a late lunch after running errands on Friday. I vaguely remember eating there years ago when my Mom lived in Petaluma. I think I ate a sandwich and it was good. Time for a little more information.
This is a tiny, intimate, cheerful space with less than 12 tables, a small counter with 4 seats, and for less rainy days, a patio with a few tables and umbrellas. You order at the counter from the items listed on the various chalkboards, find a seat, the food comes to you, then you pay at the register after youre done.
The menu offered a short list of smartly chosen, interesting wines. The menu offered tarts, quiches, soups, sandwiches, terrines and I even noted a foie gras pate and a spinach salad with duck confit. Everything appeared to be housemade.
I decided on the savory tart with goat cheese, tomato, pancetta and leeks. It was a generous portion, with a flaky crust generously slathered with goat cheese that served as a base for the other toppings and accompanied by a large fistful of mixed greens, cornichons and olives. Sounds corny, I know, but the food tasted like it was made with love. I washed it all down with an inexpensive but tasty glass of Vouvray. With tax and a nice tip it came to $16.
As the rain poured down outside, I enjoyed the views of the Petaluma river, the old mill and the new mixed-use development being built nearby. Regulars chatted with the staff like old friends. Suddenly I thought, This is the Café Lucy of Petaluma!
Stepping up to the counter to pay my check, I was amazed that the woman who took my order remember what I had ordered without looking at my check, something shed done with each customer. Turns out shes the owner, Stephanie. We chatted for several minutes, and if the food hadnt been enough, she won my houndish heart by mentioning that she had eaten at the now closed Café Lucy, and had worked at Babettes in Sonoma, another favorite haunt of mine before the owners closed it and opened Elizabeth Daniel in San Francisco.
This place is (IMHO) a treasure. I need to come up with more errands to do in Petaluma so I can go back and soon!
Water Street Bistro
On Water Street in Petaluma (that alley between the Boulevard and the River, right across from the foot bridge)