NileGuide Expert Says:
Best multi-course family-style dinner in Sonoma. La Cena is a four-course meal for two for just $26.00 apiece; menu changes weekly on Fridays.
400 W Spain St
Sonoma, CA 95476
NileGuide Expert tip:
Don't miss Sunday brunch, now featuring $3 prosecco; if it's warm enough, eat on the sun-dappled terrace surrounded by aromatic lavender and sage.
Estate really is located in an historic Victorian-era estate, the home built in 1864 by Spanish land-holder General Mariano Vallejo for his daughter. The lovely high-ceilinged building formerly housed an old-fashioned, though beloved local institution known as General's Daughter, named for the building's role in history. Since reopening in the fall of 2008 as Estate, the expansive dining room has become a popular destination thanks to the reputation of Sondra Bernstein, the culinary force behind The Girl & the Fig, widely acknowledged as one of the best restaurants in Sonoma County.
But while Fig, and its offshoot, the Fig Cafe (located in the original Girl & the Fig building in Glen Ellen) serve food that's at least nominally country French, Estate is a chance for Bernstein and her longtime partner, sous chef John Toulze, to try something different. Working with a new executive chef, Chris Jones, they've developed a style they call "festive regional Italian" which translates as an eclectic menu filled with the kinds of dishes your Italian grandmother might whip up if she had access to all the bounty of Sonoma County's specialty farms and artisanal producers.
Estate is also a chance for Toulze to show up the skills he's developed in charcuterie; numerous dishes feature house-made pancetta, house-smoked bacon (perfectly chewy and extra-smoky), salumi, and other handmade meat treats from Jones' smokehouse.
The dining room ambiance is an odd blend of formal, old-fashioned furnishings and modern art, but it works perfectly thanks to scattered table lamps and floral arrangements that tie it all together into something invitingly homey yet festive.
The full bar features a good collection of local wines, there's no corkage fee for Sonoma wines. There are frequent special events
Regional Italian & festive drinking with a full bar, and extensive wine list, patio dining. . . but wait, that's not all. . . Estate grown products, estate crafted artisan products, and an avant-garde art art collection round out the mix.