It’s not like good food is hard to come by in Sonoma, ground zero for amazing farm-to-table restaurants and artisanal producers. But good picnic and take-out food? Not so much. That’s probably why locals are so excited about the opening of Fresh, a combination market, deli, and cafe located in the Skyhawk Shopping Center on the east side of Santa Rosa off Highway 12.
Fresh is the brainchild of Lisa Hemenway, beloved in northern Sonoma County foodie circles as the name behind two favorite local restaurants, Lisa Hemenway’s Restaurant in Montgomery Village, and Lisa Henenway’s Bistro in Town & Country Center. Hemenway kicked off her 20-year cooking career with stints as the Sous Chef and Pastry Chef for John Ash & Co.
With Fresh, Hemenway takes her signature focus on simple, easy, family-style dining into a less formal setting. Reminiscent of a French Country market, Fresh is like a cross between your favorite country deli and an über-modern Whole Foods-type natural food emporium. But while Fresh will feature a bakery, a deli, and an extensive selection of local cheeses, the menu will go much further. There will be an oyster and sushi bar, a wine bar pouring local vintages, and a wood-fired oven turning out handmade pizzas. All food will be made fresh onsite.
Gourmet take-away may be what sets Fresh apart, but I’m guessing the venue will quickly become popular for onsite dining as well. The bistro-themed indoor dining room can seat as many as 75, and the deck, tucked away behind the store, overlooks an unexpectedly pretty ravine.
Because Hemenway is so well-connected locally, you can expect Fresh to become an easy all-in-one stop to pick up the latest products from Sonoma’s many local artisanal dairies, growers, condiment makers, and wineries. The grand opening festivities are scheduled for the first week of November, but meanwhile the market is open with a rotating seasonal menu.