Food: Saddles still in the saddle at MacArthur Place

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Saddles restaurant at MacArthur Place has temporarily moved into what was the delightfully comfy library of the inn. It is still cozy with shelves of books, tables and leather upholstered dining chairs. Beverage Director David Nepove reigns at the bar. While cooked temporarily in a state of the art 40-foot food truck, meals are served in the library and on a beautiful new (and shaded) patio that hopefully they will keep.

The menu is slightly limited to Saddles’ specialties until they reopen in full force as the new “Layla,” featuring Mediterranean cuisine. While the big barn is still cement, holes and uprights, General Manager Ruben Cambero expects construction and renovations to finish by the end of December. (Cambero says that founding owner Suzanne Brangham’s saddle and boot collection has been stored safely until they decide what to do with it.)

The current menu includes appetizers of Haystack onions, chicken wings with fermented sweet chili and peanuts, fried calamari and shrimp, poblano hummus, and guacamole and chips ($14 to $17). Soup is clam chowder, or you can get steamed mussels with chorizo and grilled sourdough, a Saddles salad, or a Caesar.

Then there is a Double California Burger with fries at $18 or an Impossible Burger at $21. Fries are extra ($6) with other entrées.

Traditional Saddles entrées include a 6-ounce filet mignon or 14-ounce ribeye, Petaluma chicken, or fish ($26 to $42). Sides are extra ($6 to $10). All desserts are $10 and include flourless chocolate cake, Mascarpone cheesecake or crème brûlée. Corkage $24, $18 for industry per 750 ml bottle.

Cole Dickinson has joined Saddles and MacArthur Place as executive chef.

Dickinson lived in San Jose, Petaluma, and Windsor as a kid and went to high school in Healdsburg. He first worked washing dishes at Chateau Souverain in Geyserville. He realized that he wanted to cook professionally after cooking as a teenager at friends’ homes – he was a popular guest.

At age 17 he joined Michael Voltaggio at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen cold station. Eventually Dickinson worked as sous chef under Michael Voltaggio at Hemisphere at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, at the Bazaar by José Andrés in Beverly Hills, and for other highly lauded chefs and restaurants such as chefs Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in London, Laurent Gras’ L2o in Chicago, and with Wolfgang Puck in Beverly Hills. He traveled and cooked with Puck through many countries, won the Food Network’s “Chopped’ and has been recognized as a “StarChefs” 2014 “Los Angeles Rising Star Chef” and one of Eater’s ’Young Guns,’ and as one of Zagat’s ’30 Under 30’ in 2013.

As well, Dickinson worked with Mark Stark at Willi’s Wine Bar and opened Willi’s Seafood in Santa Rosa.

Dickinson told this writer that “I am crazy unhealthy competitive with myself. I am never satisfied, I am always trying to be better. I never went to culinary school and worked my way up from the very bottom.” And learned from people who knew more than he did all along the ladder.

Dickinson and his wife Jeanny live in Napa with their two children, and he cycles distance rides with other chefs to benefit No Kid Hungry.

29 E. MacArthur, Sonoma. 938-2929.

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