If you are headed for the California Wine Country and are looking for some really good food, The Girl and The Fig is a must! Good food, organic and locally sourced, in a beautiful setting resides here. The restaurant’s theme is “Country Food with a French Passion” and that is exactly what you will get here.
I have to thank my friends’ CPA for recommending this restaurant. I have not lived here in the Bay Area very long, and whenever I meet someone new and can tell from the way the conversation goes that they are into good food, I always ask for their local recommendations. The Girl and The Fig in Sonoma was one of them. The name intrigued me and carried promise of delights to come. I checked out the website and I really liked what I saw. I made reservations for lunch. Twice!
The Girl and The Fig, which occupies the whole ground floor of the historic Sonoma Hotel, is located on the corner of Sonoma town Plaza at the junction between West Spain and 1st Streets. The restaurant has a warm and welcoming feeling with its country vintage ambiance. Check out the beautiful vintage bar in the images above and below.
The Fig is, well, the Sonoma Mission fig, but the Girl is Sondra Bernstein, owner and leader of the incredible team at The Girl and The Fig along with John Toulze, Managing Partner and Executive Chef. This dynamic duo celebrates eighteen years at the restaurant, which saw its early days in Glen Ellen.
This post is the result of two lunches a couple of weeks apart. The first time we thought we would put in an early lunch to avoid the crowd, but that did not work out very well. When we showed up for our 11:30 am reservation, which is also their opening time, there were at least fifty people waiting outside. Lunch was still wonderful, but slower, and because we had a 2:00 pm commitment elsewhere in town, we had to pass on dessert. And you know me, I have to have dessert! Hmmm… I may be more like my Mom than I thought.
The restaurant’s seating style is very French, at least from my experience of France, and we were seated inside (by choice) at a little table by the beautiful bookcase turned wine display in the main dining room.
Scouring the menu, I was at a loss as to what to order. French food is not usually my favorite, or I should say, Parisian food isn’t, but I do enjoy country style French cuisine and, on this menu, everything sounded really good!
Said menu, which changes weekly and is served all day, is divided into Starters, Salon du Fromage (there is a lovely assortment of artisanal cheeses here), Soup & Salads, Petit Plats & Sandwiches, and Entrées. On Sunday it features the addition of Brunch items. I have yet to try those but it is definitely in the works. You can view the current menu here.
Each week, starting on Thursday evening, there is also a Plats du Jour menu featuring three courses for $38, to which you can pair a wine flight for an extra $12. You can see that announced on the board outside the main entrance (image at the top of the post).
We started by selecting drinks. Valerie opted for a glass of red wine from their award-winning and well selected wine list, while I was tempted by the wonderful Elderflower and Rose Lemonade you see above. How can you resist anything Elderflower? Especially when combined with rose! I had not expected to get a whole big bottle of it, but I enjoyed it so much I finished it all up and purchased two extra bottles so I could take them to our afternoon gathering.
Some scrumptious rustic bread and butter showed up, and Valerie ordered the soup of the day ($8), which was a creamed Cauliflower Soup. The mmmm, this is good, and mmmm, this is also good began. The soup was delicate, yet hearty and satisfying, with layers of flavors at times unexpected.
My choice fell on the Pastis scented Steamed Mussels with garlic, leeks, herbs and grilled bread ($15 1/2 pound; $25 full pound), which comes with a side of Frites, or skinny French Fries that are perfectly tender and crisp at the same time, and arrive at the table piping hot. I would have ordered more bread to keep sopping up the delicious broth, but I needed to save myself for what was coming next.
For me that was Croque Monsieur with applewood-smoked ham and St. George cheese and a side of spring salad ($13). You can add an egg for $2, turning it into a Croque Madame. I had never had Croque Monsieur before, though I had seen it on the web, in magazines and even in movies, and was not quite sure what to expect other than it would be a form of toasted ham and cheese sandwich. And that is exactly what it was, and yet different. The bread seemed brioche-type and the whole thing was both moist, tender and crisp at the same time. So delicious! The fresh green salad on the side complemented it perfectly.
Valerie oohed and aahed through the whole of her Duck Confit with Fingerling Potatoes, English Peas and Roasted Baby Carrots ($19 one leg; $29 two legs), which is one of the specialties. As you know by now, I do not eat fowl, or much meat of any kind for that matter, but it does look good, doesn’t it? I saw quite a few of these plates going around the dining room that day.
That is where our first meal ended. On our second visit a couple of weeks later, we decided to try late lunch and made reservations for 2:00 pm. That worked perfectly! The lunch time rush hour was over, I was able to get a table by one of the big windows so I could have all the light I needed, and we also had nothing scheduled afterwards, so there was plenty of time to get to dessert and take photos of the place without getting in everyone’s way.
We choose to sit inside again as it was a hot day, though there is a beautiful open air patio in the back, which is covered for shade on hot sunny days, and has standing heaters for chillier evenings. There is even a fireplace, though I am told that it is just for atmosphere. With the drought in California, fireplaces tend to remain unlit.
On our second visit Valerie was not particularly hungry, and the heat of the day outside inspired her to order this very refreshing and light Cantaloupe, Coppa and Burrata Salad ($13). She deemed it perfect, just the right blend of richness and lightness, salty and sweet. I have to admit, this salad inspired my Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata and White Peaches, as I wanted to experience the creaminess of the burrata with the sweetness of fruit in a savory setting. You have to try it, the combination is food for the gods.
I decided I wanted the Steamed Mussels with Frites again, and then fancied some pasta, so I chose the English Pea Agnolotti: a house made Black Pepper Pasta with charred Pea Tendrils and Pecorino Cream ($23). It was excellent, delicate and flavorful at the same time, and very satisfying. May have to have it again next time.
And then…. dessert! I picked the Lavender Crème Brûlée ($7.50) because I love anything with lavender and it had remained an unsatisfied desire from our previous lunch. Valerie picked the Chocolate and Salted Fig Caramel Trifle with Italian Meringue and Cacao Nibs ($7). Of course, we swapped and both of us got bites of each dessert, slurping everything up.
They were both excellent, though the Chocolate & Salted Fig Caramel Trifle was not a trifle at all, but a pudding, and quite a rich one. It was really, really good, but not what we expected, as a trifle is layered with sponge cake, alternating richness and lightness. This was richness plus richness with the chocolate pudding, the caramel and the meringue. It was certainly divine, but sometimes more is just… a tad much.
We ate all of it all the same.
Other tempting desserts on the menu were Fromage Blanc Cheesecake with Poppy-Graham Crust and Blueberry Compote ($9); Strawberry Crostada with whipped Crème Fraîche and Chocolate Sauce ($8); Profiteroles filled with Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream and covered in bittersweet chocolate sauce ($7); Chocolate-dipped Fig Kisses with black Mission Fig syrup ($5); Fig and Port Ice Cream or Sorbet in a Cookie Cup ($6); and a Plate of Artisan Cheeses and Fruit served with Port ($15).
I know you can see them on the menu posted on line, but I thought I would list them here and get you drooling. How is that going?
Sondra’s and John’s passion for food does not stop at The Girl and The Fig. You may find more of their culinary delights at The Fig Café in Glen Ellen for weekend brunch, at Suite D for pop up events, and even have your events catered around the Wine Country.
And if you would like to bring some goodness home, there is always the Fig Store, of which you will find a good representation at the restaurant, but also in a convenient on-line store. I must say, this Girl keeps busy, and we all benefit from her joie de vivre, if you will allow me a slide into French-ism.
The Girl and The Fig is the kind of restaurant where the food you eat will be a subject of your conversations for weeks afterwards. I know we are still talking about what we ate and, most of all, about what we are going to eat on our next visit, maybe for Sunday brunch.
AND WHILE IN SONOMA YOU WILL ALSO ENJOY: