Eastside Road, January 31, 2015—A LOCAL CHEF, a very gifted one who's worked off and on at a string of very fine restaurants he's opened and then, often too soon, closed, is in the hospital with serious health issues. We heard somehow about a benefit that had been organized for him in a village not that far from us, where he's been working for the last few years, rather improbably cooking quite fine dinners in a kitchen the size of our pantry (which is pretty small) in a roadside bar.
We haven't been out there often enough — though barely half an hour distant, it's off our usual routes. But we took a friend out today to do our part for his medical expenses, and the dinner, prepared by a friend who's the chef at another local restaurant, was really top-notch.
As you can see, this is a local dive, an old-fashioned roadhouse really, and the joint was indeed jumpin. Since I can't eat shrimp and lobster, I started not with cioppino but with a roasted beet salad, with local goat cheese and greens; and went on to a delicious braised beef, slowly and expertly cooked in red wine, with potato purée and braised kale — truly delicious.
Dessert: Butterscotch panna cotta, made by Jenny Malicki, a gifted pastry chef who we've known for years. This was community, friends, locals, people who turn out for one another — really a nice gathering.
Zinfandel, Ravenswood Old Vines, vintage?• The Casino Bar and Grill, 17000 Bodega Highway, Bodega, California; (707) 876-3185
☛Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants