Todd Harbron, Jay Gardner open Cafe 522 on Broadway
SERVING “American classic food reconstructed” at their new Café 522 restaurant on Broadway in Sonoma are, from left, Jay Gardner , chef Alex Bolduc, and Todd Harbron.
By Bill Hoban
Partner/owners Todd Harbron and Jay Gardner, along with Chef Alex Bolduc, recently opened Café 522, Sonoma’s newest gem for local foodies, serving what the partners call “American classic food reconstructed” from primarily local resources.
All three are food industry veterans, each with a different experience and skill set, contributing to what they intend to be a delightful, but relaxing wine-country dining experience.
While the menu will depend on what fresh local products are in season, Bolduc, who grew up in Georgia working in local restaurants from the age of 15, said some things, such as his farm egg noodles hunter style with chicken livers, wood mushrooms and local eggs, will be a regular feature.
Current dinner entrees include line-caught local sea bass served with Hog Island Manila clams, roasted airline chicken breast, cider-brined pork loin chops, crisp Sonoma duck breast, and a steak dish that will vary from time to time.
Many diners may choose to make a meal of several Café 522 starters such as the Niman Ranch beef and pork meatballs and three-bacon tartlets, then immediately proceed to dessert where they’ll find irresistible enticements such as the warm lemon cheese pie of lemon curd and lemon cream, or berry pudding with vanilla bean anglaise and pistachio tuile.
And we haven’t even gotten to the lunch (or breakfast) menu yet. To get a more complete look at the menu, readers can go to www.cafe522.com.
Bolduc attended culinary school in Atlanta, then cooked with Hugh Acheson and Chuck Ramsley of Fine and Ten Restaurant in Athens, working his way up to sous chef. He became chef de cuisine at Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa and later worked with Stephen Barber to open Fish Story Restaurant in Napa.
Gardner worked for food distribution giant Sysco for many years, but said his most relevant experience came in his three years as the director of purchasing for U.S. Food Service, the second largest distributor in the country. There he was required to taste food samples offered by farmers and wholesalers virtually every day. This taught him valuable lessons about the importance of quality ingredients.
Harbron, while an avid “foodie,” himself, brings a most important ingredient to the enterprise – sound financial management. He was vice president of finance at FreshPoint Southern California, a division of Sysco specializing in wholesale fresh produce for 10 years and before that he was director of finance at Sysco’s Portland office.
Together partner-owners Harbron and Gardner, and Bolduc, their chef, hope to find a place in the hearts (and stomachs) of Sonomans.
Formerly the home of Lokal Restaurant, the cafe has been tastefully redecorated, and features original photos by photographer Ben Deverman. The partners say their goal is to make Café 522 approachable and somewhat European-like in service; meaning diners will not be rushed, and instead be allowed to dine in leisure.
At first they thought to describe their cuisine as “Upscale American comfort food,” but decided that meant too many different things to different people. So to try to lessen customers’ preconceived notions about the food they are serving, they decided on the mantra – “We serve you what we like to eat … and we think you will like it too.”
The restaurant at 522 Broadway just off the Plaza is currently open daily for lunches and dinners from 11:30 a.m. For reservations call 938-7373 or go to www.cafe522.com.