Kathleen Hill: Restaurant reopenings and other food updates

Restaurant reopenings and other food updates

Girl & the Fig Phase 3

Reopening the Girl & the Fig slowly, owners Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze have opened the Fig’s back patio now with a shortened menu. They are making a big effort to provide codes for people who don’t want to touch physical menus and contact-less pay method options.

The Fig is also working with the City of Sonoma and Public Works Department to get a “parklet” in three parking spaces on the First Street West side of the restaurant. This is being done in other Bay Area cities with great popularity, and even at Glen Ellen Star. The Fig Café in Glen Ellen is still open for takeout food and groceries, and the Fig Rig continues daily service on Broadway in front of Sonoma Valley High School.

Elaine Bell Catering

Elaine Bell’s BBQ Boxes at Sigh champagne lounge proved to be so popular a weekend ago that they will now offer them every weekend from now on. But you have to order by Wednesday at 2 p.m. and pick up Friday or Saturday between 1 and 6:30 p.m., just pick your time to drop by.

The BBQ Boxes come sized for either four or two people and all contain love-rubbed barbecued St. Louis ribs, blackberry barbecue sauce, Applewood smoked chicken thighs, apple cider slaw, summer corn pudding, fluffy buttermilk biscuits, and mixed berry cobbler in a mason jar. All are ready for you to re-heat. $90 for meal for four, $55 for meal for two. Flour & Bloom cakes and desserts available extra. Pick up at Sigh, 120 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 815-4000.

Reel & Brand

After reopening the Reel & Brand deck and patio, Kevin Kress just added a new Prime Rib Thursday to his weekly menu. The dinner will include prime rib, twice-baked potato, and creamed spinach for $36. I think this has been absent from Sonoma menus since Saddles Steakhouse closed, and there it was a la carte. Now you have to wait until next Thursday to try it, but Kress says they have 120 properly spaced seats outside. Reel & Brand has also relaunched its happy hour, Wednesday through Friday, 3 to 5:30 p.m. featuring specific house cocktails at $5, and appetizers such as street corn, sliders including pulled pork, a burger and a cheese burger, oysters, chicken wings and fries ($2 to 10). 401 Grove St., Sonoma. 938-7204.

Epicurean Connection

Epicurean Connection owner Sheana Davis has added some interesting items to her food delivery menu to include entrées such as Bud’s Meats chorizo and chicken paella ($25 per quart), chilled jumbo Meyer lemon prawns (10 for $20), roasted organic chicken salad with aioli and Kicking Bull Farms greens with a bag of Costeaux Bakery’s sourdough crostini ($20), and a macaroni salad with olives and parsley aioli ($15 per quart). Many other items are still available such as cheese boards with or without charcuterie.

They now deliver on Wednesday afternoons from “Carneros to Kenwood” with $30 minimum purchase. To order email or call 235-9530

Food news from Mexico

The U.S. Department of Labor apparently found “child labor practices in the production of green beans, coffee, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, onions, poppies, pornography, sugar cane, and tobacco. The agency also discovered forced child labor used in the production of chili peppers and tomatoes, Mexico’s two largest export crops to the United States,” according to

Read labels carefully, if there are any.

Transcendence Theatre partners with Girl & the Fig and Sonoma Mission Inn

Transcendence Theatre Company has partnered with longtime Transcendence supporter Sondra Bernstein and her Girl & the Fig to prepare dinner boxes fans can purchase while watching online performances of past season’s shows.

All of this is because of the coronavirus pandemic that prevents us from gathering in crowds or for large groups to perform on stage with an audience.

Many Transcendence attendees have indulged in the Fig Rig foods at the group’s Jack London State Historic Park performances, and Bernstein has bought out an evening each year to treat all of her employees to dinner and a show, which always turns out to be a joy to many families.

The shows for which you can order dinner boxes include “Don’t Stop Believin” (July 10 to 12 and 17 to 19; “Fantastical Family Night” July 24 to 25; “I Hope You Dance,” Aug. 14 to 16 and 21 to 23; and Transcendence’s “Gala Celebration” (Sept. 11 to 13).

Girl & the Fig offers several menu selections for each performance, always including a vegetarian selection and in boxes for one or two or two to four people. ($18 to $85). Click on the performance that interests you and then order at No admission to the videos. Transcendencetheatre,org.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn

Then on Thursday, July 16, there will be a “Fairmont Drive-Inn Movie” of Transcendence’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” video in what Fairmont official Michelle Heston refers to as their “upper parking lot,” which borders on Highway 12.

The parking lot will hold about 40 cars and there will be several concession stands, all run by the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Wine and a drive-through wine bar will be poured and sold by the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance (SVVGA). Net proceeds will benefit Redwood Empire Food Bank and Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley. $45 per car, limit of four people per car. Tickets via

Winery updates

Most Sonoma Valley wineries have reopened and they no longer have to serve meals, or actually any food. That requirement, that few people understood, has been lifted.

West Wine Tours is back: Proclaiming “Happy Times Are Here Again,” West Wine Tours owners Garrett Sathre and Nicole Benjamin are back operating their VW buses with both “social and distance” offerings in the wine country. Everything to them is back to “normal” with wineries of Sonoma and Napa valleys pouring wine again, except for the addition of “extra health precautions and masks“ as part of the new normal.

They are primarily booking private tours and have eliminated sales by the seat. Drivers and guests must wear masks. All winery seating is outdoors with tables six feet apart. Winery servers will wear masks. Van drivers will disinfect “vans each time guests go into a winery for tasting.” Congratulations to Sathre and Benjamin for climbing back up during the pandemic. We all welcome you back. More info at 934-0187 or

Roche Winery: Roche Winery has added a vegetarian option to the charcuterie plates offered at both its new winery on Bonneau Road and its tasting room on West Spain Street.

The veg platter includes green olive tapenade, hummus, roasted red peppers with Delice de la Valee goat and cow cheese, all served with fresh picked vegetables and crackers. ($22 to $26.) 122 W. Spain St. Sonoma, 935-7115 and 22097A Bonness Road, Sonoma 937-7115.

Gloria Ferrer reopens: Gloria Ferrer reopened last weekend and also offers a curbside pairing pickup program that includes some local restaurants’ food. Tonight it includes Girl & the Fig fried chicken paired with its 2017 Blanc de Blanc and Brut Rosé. The food pairing Friday lineup includes Girl & the Fig Fried Chicken Fridays this Friday, June 16, July 10 and July 24; Sol Food of San Rafael is serving pollo al horno on June 27; and Petaluma Pie Company’s hand pies and pork bun pie on July 4.

Hamel Family Wines: Hamel Family Wines has reopened and offers its “Reserve Experience” ($150) by appointment only at its Estate House.

The Reserve Experience is a nearly three hour personalized wine and food event that starts with a private tour through the Hamels’ vineyard with a glass of rosé, and then into the cave for a not yet released barrel tastes of cabernet sauvignon, an in depth look at winemaking practices from vineyard to bottle, and a four course menu prepared by chef Clinton Huntsman. The chef incorporates primarily foods grown on the property and carefully pairs his culinary creations with the wines to be poured. $150. To reserve a space, call 996-5800 or email concierge Alli Mundee at

Sangiacomo Family Wines: The Sangiacomo family has moved through three generations of farming, from pears and other fruits to grapes, and now to making wine and forming their first ever wine club, called Club Famiglia.

For them, “our family is deeply connected to our Italian roots. And for us family is everything,” say Mike, Steve and Mia Sangiacomo Pucci. Friends and fans who join the “family” will receive three shipments of wine per year including new releases each season.

Their first lineup includes Sonoma Coast chardonnay and pinot noir, along with their Legacy Collection, with its 2017 ViMaria Pinot Noir and the Four Siblings Chardonnay.

Schermeister Winery re-opens in Glen Ellen: Laura Schermeister was a graphic designer who took one last job before her planned return to North Carolina. That one last job was to design a website for one Robert Schermeister who was starting a new winery. When they first met at a Starbucks, he gave her a bottle of his 2012 pinot noir, and she never turned back. Their story on their website is called “Love at Second Sight.”

Now they have their winery tasting room in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village and have reopened it since the county health official said it was a go. They feature several vegan wines.

A visit by appointment to Schermeister can include small bites, a taste of a flight of wines, and one chocolate pairing from neighboring Wine Country Chocolates with the final wine ($49). They throw in a $20 voucher to apply “towards the purchase of three or more bottles.” As they rethink their business structure, it should be interesting. Be sure to call to make a reservation and get the latest. 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. 934-8953

Breathless Sparkling Wines: Sharon Cohn and her sisters Rebecca and Cynthia Faust and their Breathless Wines were featured in a recent story called “Wine-Loving Sisters with A Bubbly, ‘Breathless’ Mission” by Kim Westerman.

Everyone in leadership roles at the Healdsburg winery is a woman, including winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster, who combines the Méthode Champenoise and California grapes to make a “breathless” sparkling wine. Gadd-Coster learned from the revered André Tchelistcheff at Jordan Winery; Sharon spent years at B.R. Cohn Winery; Rebecca founded what is now Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services; and Cynthia had lots of business experience. And their efforts combine to make Breathless be nominated as Best New Winery of the Year by San Francisco magazine.

Three Sticks Wines: Three Sticks owner Bill Price hosts his second “Three Sticks Together” free virtual concert on July 1 to benefit the Plus 1 COVID-19 Relief Fund and MusiCares for musicians affected by loss of work related to the pandemic. Concert is free, but they hope for donations.

The concert is co-hosted by Grammy-winning jazz musician Laurence Hobgood with Tim Hockenberry, Billy Valentine, Matt Szemela, Michael Dailey and Tom Scott. To reserve your space, text 3STICKS to 50155 or go to

Private cheffing in Sonoma Valley

Many local private chefs have reevaluated their lives and relationships with restaurants during the health crisis and many have done lots of cooking to help feed hungry people during this coronavirus pandemic.

Check out:

Bryan Jones, former chef at Fig Café & Wine Bar and St. Francis Winery who prepared meals to raise funds for the Teen Center during the pandemic.

Lisa Lavagetto – former Ramekins Cooking School manager (27 years) is teaching online via Sonoma Community Center.

Cristina Topham – specializes in Lebanese cuisine and has cooked around the world.

Kyle Kuklewski – former executive chef at Ramekins Culinary Center & Inn creates “A Simple Gesture” dinners.

Girl & the Fig Caters – has been preparing thousands of meals weekly through Sonoma Family Meal throughout the pandemic.

Elaine Bell Catering – Sonoma native who has been making thousands of meals for schools and the hungry in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties during the pandemic.

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