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Kathleen Hill: Tips anniversary, lunch at the Fairmont, Fig Cafe and more

Tips Roadside celebrates 3 years

Happy travelers Andrew and Susie Pryfogle came home just in time to organize their own birthday party for their Tips Roadside restaurant in Kenwood on Sunday, June 6.

Susie says the party will be a “live action backyard barbecue and live music’’ in addition to the regular menu. At the celebration you can get one meat selection of brisket, baby back ribs or smoked chicken quarters with two sides for $25, two meats with two sides for $30, or three meats with two sides for $33.

The sides choices will be barbecued baked beans, coleslaw or mac ‘n’ cheese. The triple berry shortcake is $10 extra for dessert. Or order their beignets, just for the thrill of it. 4 to 8 p.m. 8445 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood. 509-0078.

First Layla, now Wit & Wisdom

Last week we wrote about new ownership and management of MacArthur Place at Broadway and East MacArthur, home of Layla restaurant.

Now up to the plate steps the Lodge at Sonoma’s plans for Wit & Wisdom.

Original developer of the Lodge, the late Barbara Thomas, raised local funds to build the Lodge in 2000 and brilliantly took almost all of her local investors with her to planning and city council hearings to win the development’s approval after public conversations at Vintage House and much more talk around town.

In about 2004 DiamondRock Hospitality purchased the Lodge at Sonoma as its “first acquisition” with the resort to be run as a Renaissance Resort and Spa by Marriott. DiamondRock is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, as is Urgo, the new managers of MacArthur Place. The purchase price was $35 million, somewhat short of the estimated $50 million development costs.

Then along came the Denver-Sage Hospitality Group which took over management in 2020 to include the attraction of well-known chef Michael Mina’s second Wit & Wisdom in September, 2020.

And later this month, the Lodge is becoming an Autograph Collection Hotel, which turns out in my research to be another brand of Marriott.

Changes to come include a revamp of Wit & Wisdom, still by Michael Mina, a new Benicia’s Kitchen Restaurant for breakfast and lunch, all new revamping of the hotel’s public spaces, gardens, driveway and rooms, new pool deck area with a fire pit, a new High Horse Bar made out of a horse trailer that supposedly “pokes at its fellow wine country city Napa,” an outdoor hearth oven, bocce ball, all with lead bartender Camber Lay. Lay is known in San Francisco bar circles as a “Bar Star,” so named by the San Francisco Chronicle. She served as “bar chef” at Pat Kuleto’s Epic Roadhouse (now Epic Steak) on the Embarcadero.

Meanwhile, Wit & Wisdom is wide open, offering all of locals’ favorites and the most extensive wine list in Sonoma Valley, although its domestic wines seem quite Napa-centric along with a huge array of wines from all over the world.

Fig Cafe closing

John Toulze, president of the Girl & the Fig, called to say they are closing the Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen for a month or so. The cafe’s last day will be Sunday, June 6.

With only 10 tables capacity at this point, the Fig Cafe staff got overwhelmed with reservations and to-go orders.

Toulze told the Index-Tribune that, "if we combine the staff of the Fig Cafe and the Girl & the Fig we will have one great restaurant" instead of two overwhelmed locations as people venture out in droves. "We will focus on getting the Girl & the Fig back to where we were, expand our catering, and then bring back the Fig Cafe and Suite D eventually. We are keeping everything."

Fairmont launches locals’ lunch deal

Now this is tempting.

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s new deal is called “Good Neighbors Who Lunch,” by which you can indulge in either a two- or three-course lunch for two with two glasses of wine selected by the Fairmont sommelier. It’s always good to know a sommelier. The two-course lunch costs $59 for two, while the three-course is $69 for two people.

It’s a wowee menu to choose your two or three courses from.

Appetizers may include tortilla chips and guacamole, housemade granola parfait, Parmesan truffle fries, crispy Brussels sprouts with peanuts, lime, chili and fish sauce dressing; falafel lettuce wraps with coleslaw and tahini yogurt and a kale Caesar salad.

Entrées range from a prosciutto and white peach salad, and ancient grains bowl, and a bay shrimp roll to a grilled lamb merguez sausage gyro, a Nashville chicken wrap, and the Sonoma Mission Inn burger with grilled Angus beef, butter lettuce, garlic aioli and aged cheddar cheese.

And maybe one of your choices will be among the desserts of a local artisan cheese plate, warm apple crumble of rye and walnut streusel with buttermilk ice cream, burnt honey crème brûlée, a dark chocolate tart or classic tiramisu with fresh raspberries.

Let’s see how two people make those decisions.

The offer is valid Monday through Friday from noon to 3 p.m., but not on weekends or holidays when they expect to be loaded with out of town guests. FSMI will automatically add 18 percent gratuity to your check. Reserve at 939-2415. 100 Boyes Blvd., Sonoma.

Breakfast and barbecue at St. Francis

Valley of the Moon Knights of Columbus again offers its monthly good-deal breakfast on Sunday, June 6, on the socially distanced playground at St. Francis Solano School.

It’s basically all you can eat and more of scrambled eggs, sausages, sautéed vegetables and potatoes, fruit and Aunt Momo’s beignets filled with ricotta. Loads of juice, coffee and tea and hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles (if you wish). $10 adults, $5 kids, $25 family. 8 to 10:30 a.m. or as long supplies last. Just show up and enter via Church Street.

On Saturday, June 12, the same gang, also raising funds for the Knights of Columbus scholarships, puts on the new “BBQ-to-go or Dine-In.” Another bargain and we like their having a “barbecue for one” price, which few events or caterers offer. The meal consists of three baby back ribs, mac ‘n’ cheese, beans, coleslaw, biscuit and Aunt Momo’s Triple Chocolate cookie ($25). Meal for two includes a half rack of ribs, everything else, and two cookies ($40), and three people get a whole rack (12) of ribs and four cookies ($60). Bottled beer, wine and other beverages available for purchase. Outdoor socially distanced seating available for all guests. 4 to 7 p.m. Table reservations available for up to eight guests per table via vomknights@gmail.com. Pre-sale only. Tickets online at vomknights.com/events.

All you can eat sushi at Roche

Missing Ed Metcalfe’s sushi? Here is your chance.

Metcalfe and his Sushimotos will bring a pop-up feast to Roche Winery’s original tasting room in the house just west of Girl & the Fig on West Spain Street on June 24.

If you buy a glass or bottle of Roche wine, you can enjoy unlimited sushi at one of two seatings. The menu includes appetizers of miso soup, edamame, chilled Asian noodles, kale, edamame and seasonal vegetables. The nigiri section will include tuna, salmon, albacore, eel and inari.

The roll selection is vast: spicy tuna, a Sushimoto roll with citrus shrimp and smoked salmon, Carneros roll with spicy shrimp and cucumber topped with spicy tuna, avocado, jalapeno and spicy aioli; veggie futo maki, California rolls, Oregon rolls, and “Slammin’ salmon” with cucumber, avocado and garlic shrimp topped with salmon and garlic aioli. $65 plus $5.59 booking fee.

Two seatings from 5 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m., so eat fast. 122 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Pre-sale only via Eventbrite.com.

Sort of local famous baker

Michelle Heston has become a fabulously artistic cake baker. She could serve you an artichoke or asparagus and it just might turn out to be cake instead of a vegetable.

In her professional life, Heston serves as executive director of public relations for Accor Hotels & Resorts in the U.S. west and east regions, which happens to include the Sonoma Mission Inn where she has worked for many years under different owners.

And she can bake just as creatively and decoratively with conventional, organic, gluten-free or dairy-free ingredients. Simply incredible. Not only that, her chicken eggs win ribbons at the Marin County Fair based on her feeding bagels to the birds.

Pre-pandemic, Heston gave a demo at Sonoma’s Williams-Sonoma, and all of the fees attendees paid to attend went to Williams-Sonoma’s favorite charity, No Kid Hungry. Way before the pandemic, No Kid Hungry was dedicated to feeding hungry children. Its activities ramped up even more as schools closed and some children lost their one or two meals a day they were fed at school.

Now Heston is excited to have made it to the Top 10 for the 2021 online Greatest Baker Contest, all to benefit No Kid Hungry. She says, “Remember you can vote daily at greatestbaker.com throughout June.”

Julia Child on Memorial Day

Friend and chef Jim Dodge posted the following on Facebook on Memorial Day, which I share here with his permission. Dodge is a member of the Julia Child Foundation Advisory Council.

“Today may be the unofficial kickoff of summer, but it’s also a day to honor those lost fighting for our country, which is something Julia and Paul (Child) took seriously. They both served in WWII, as part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner to the CIA. Julia reported directly to OSS leader Gen. William J. Donovan, and famously helped develop shark repellent, while Paul ran the OSS’s Visual Presentation group and later worked for the state department.”

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