So far, since coming back from NY, I make it up to wine country about once a year. Don't get me wrong — I love it up there, and though I have great ambitions to go more often, city living (work and the rat race) gets in the way. Best-laid plans aside, this summer included a little jaunt to Cloverdale and the surrounding area, including dinner at Chalkboard in Healdsburg.
Wow. The restaurant's website says its food is "a celebration of the best ingredients Sonoma has to offer." I'll say. A lot of the produce showcased in Chalkboard's small plates come from a dedicated 3-acre garden. And it was obvious once the dishes start parading out to our table. See for yourself.
This night, Chalkboard's bruschetta were flavor bombs — featuring heirloom tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with a crumble of smoked egg yolks; summer squash caponata with ricotta and basil; and hickory smoked salmon with smashed avocado, creme fraiche and pickled onions.
Summer isn't complete without corn. Chalkboard's grilled Brentwood corn was incredibly sweet and juicy, and dressed to perfection with queso fresco, chipotle crema and cilantro. Loved the addition of grilled lime to balance sweet with tart and tangy.
Creamy luscious goodness in the guise of uni butter injected this bucatini dish with all kinds of umami. Oh, and the additions of gulf shrimp and roasted garlic were pretty awesome too.
Chalkboard's savory meat pasta — jalapeno cresta di gallo (aka rooster crest-shaped pasta) with corn, bacon, creme fraiche and a pork shoulder ragu — served as the ideal counterpart to the seafood pasta.
The only dish we didn't absolutely love was this one: the San Marzano tomato braised meatballs with Pecorino and mint leaves. It was good, but just didn't pull off the richly complex flavor of the meatballs and spicy sauce at Beretta.
No matter. Overall, Chalkboard delivered. Happy to come back any time.