To know me is to know I have a healthy obsession with California wines. Sort of a love-hate relationship- I love wine and hate when I don’t have it! Fortunately, I live in San Francisco and wine country is only a beautiful 45-60 mins drive away.
In the past we’ve always gone to Big John’s Market or the Oakville Grocery on the square in downtown Healdsburg, but I didn’t want to look for parking and wait in a long line for a $12 sandwich wrapped in butcher paper. I wanted a big heaping plates of eggs or waffles or oatmeal….you know, warm breakfast food. Good traditional comfort food. Especially since it was friggin 30° F and there was ice on the floor outside.
Luckily we stumbled upon Backyard in Forestville (thanks Yelp!) the latest endeavor for husband and wife team Chefs Daniel Kedan (of Thomas Keller’s Ad hoc in Yountville, and The General’s Daughter in Sonoma fame) and Marianna Gardenhire. The place was packed with locals spooning healthy portions of locally sourced sustainable foods (which the restaurant prides itself on) into their pie holes and our stomachs were growling.
Jonathan and I opted to sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen, which I think is the coolest place to sit in a restaurant, because is so much fun watching the chefs prep, cook, and plate. Plate after plate of fluffy biscuits with gravy, meaty short rib hash, braised greens with poached eggs, creamy polenta, oatmeal with fruit…and well, you get the picture were served up and I was torn between everything on the menu. Eventually we made our choices and this is what we had:
We started with the bucket ‘o doughnuts served with Rainbow’s End damson plum jam, cinnamon and sugar. I wasn’t actually able to try these because of my “no sweets in 2013” challenge with my brother, but Jonathan’s silence and ability to shove three more doughnuts in his mouth before he was finished with the first.
Then we shared the biscuits and gravy with Wild Foraged hog and candy cap mushroom gravy. The flaky buttermilk biscuits soaked up the wet yolk perfectly.
Jonathan had the creamy polenta and first light Swiss chard with Parmesan cheese, poached eggs, and Nightingale breadcrumbs.
We got the braised greens on the side, and they were served with a garnish of Parmesan cheese. I also learned a secret from the chef about to cook greens perfectly….first you blanche them in boiling water and then you shock them in cold water to keep their bright coloring. When you’re ready to serve them, you just sauté them with a little oil or butter to heat them up again, and maybe add some red pepper flakes or garlic. And that’s it. I employed this technique in my collard greens and lima beans recipe and it was great!
Either the chef overheard me crying about the doughnuts, or he saw my lip bleeding I , and he took pitty on me. The next thing I know a wooden platter with fresh apple, grapefruit, and persimmon puree is coming over my shoulders.
And Jonathan got the chocolate budino….so not fair! (check out the chocolate budino recipe here)
In summary, Backyard in Forestville is a wonderful restaurant in the Russian River every meal of the day: breakfast before wine tasting, lunch between wineries, or for a great dinner to soak up the wine and the sunset at the end of a long day. The food is fresh, innovative, and environmentally conscious and the friendly staff is knowledgeable. We will definitely be going back again soon to the best brunch in Sonoma!