Monday, January 26, 2015

Sonoma Grille

This past Saturday was one of our show & dinner date days. We saw Pippin and then we went to dinner at a new-to-us place: Sonoma Grille. Sonoma Grille is on Penn Avenue just a couple blocks from the Benedum. It's part of the Big Y Group which also includes Seviche, NOLA on the Square, and Perle.

We went to dinner in spite of my stomach issues. I was feeling better, but not great. I really didn't want to go home and eat grilled cheese plus I felt guilty cancelling on SP because he'd been dealing with me all week and I'm sure it wasn't fun listening to me barf for a few hours or gasp in pain every hour or so for 4 days as another excruciating cramp roiled through my mid-section.

Sonoma Grille is much more spacious inside than I expected. The walls are a soft, earthy color that I think of as a peachy-terra cotta color on the walls. The tables are spaced nicely apart. When the restaurant was full and busy, it wasn't too loud. It was relaxing and comfortable. It's a wine bar, so there is an extensive wine list including several wine flight options. I didn't want any wine but SP ordered a glass of Stags Head Viognier which, when I sipped, made me wish I felt 100% better because it was really to my liking. Instead of wine, I ordered iced tea.
There are a lot of starter options (tapas, cheese, appetizers, salads, flatbreads) and it took us a while to negotiate which ones we wanted to share. After we ordered, we received a bread basket with Mediterra bread. I can't remember specifically which bread this was. It was a delicious, hearty bread and the honey butter was delicious, too.
We decided to share a couple of the Tapas. Above is the Shrimp Tenpura with steak sauce and an aioli. The shrimp were a nice size, perfectly cooked, and the breading was light and crispy, much like what I used to enjoy when I lived in Japan. Below is the Halloumi:
Halloumi with cornflake coating served with cherry gastrique and chimichurri sauces (sauces not pictured). I asked for all of the dipping sauces on the side. Fried cheese, of course it was tasty, and thanks to halloumi having a high melting point, it wasn't too melty-messy.
SP ordered the Brussels with black garlic sauce. He said they were delicious, nice and still slightly firm and lovely blackened parts.
He also ordered the Crab Bisque with crab claw beignet, creme fresh, and chives. I tried a tiny bit of beignet dipped in soup. It was very good, lots of crab flavor and a hint of red pepper. He said it was one of his favorite crab bisques.
For his entree, SP chose to create a Mixed Grill plate with one selection: herbed branzino. He chose the stir fried vegetables with it and for his dipping sauce he chose minted cucumber yogurt. It was a large portion of fish and there were a lot of vegetables underneath. He said it was delicious, but he couldn't finish all of it so he took some home for lunch the next day.
I chose Coq Au Vin. I was curious to try it made by a pro to see how it compares to the coq au vin we make at home. It came with whipped potatoes, mushrooms, bacon, and pearl onions. I picked out all the onions. The dish was very good. The chicken was cooked through but still juicy and it was easy to cut. Lovely herbs sprinkled on the outside. The chevre whipped potatoes were fantastic. The sauce was different from ours. Ours is more of a red sauce from using tomatoes while this was more brown. It's definitely something I'd order again. I wanted to keep eating because it was so good, but I was feeling quite full and I didn't want to push my luck since my stomach was kind of behaving.  It was still tasty the next day re-heated for lunch.

Neither of us ordered dessert because we were too full.

We enjoyed our food and would go back. Service was good but a little different. For instance, our server spent a lot of time going over the menu when he greeted us and telling us how much we were going to like everything. It was a little much. It wasn't just our server, we heard the same spiels from the other servers around us at other tables. The restaurant filled up while we were there so the servers became much busier as we were there and our service became a bit slow after our entrees arrived. We sat for quite a while before our plates were cleared/boxed. It would not have bothered us as much if, after eating my entree and sitting a bit, my stomach hadn't started it's post-sick-not-yet-better gurgles and such. We were there 2 hours total. However, in spite of being busy and trying to make sure everyone going to a show later that night got out in time, our sever never seemed harried or grouchy or annoyed. I was seriously impressed with his calm, pleasant demeanor throughout the evening. Everyone from the hostess to server to other employees (table clearer, bread delivery person, etc.) was cheerful and pleasant.

Another solid choice in the Cultural District. We would go back. It's actually getting quite difficult to choose a place to dine after shows because we've had so many delicious meals lately in the theater area, which I suppose is a good problem to have.

  Sonoma Grille on Urbanspoon

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