2012 Wine Country Trip Day 3 - Bad start, great ending

It's Thanksgiving day so we didn't anticipate a lot of places being open.  We really didn't want to eat breakfast in the hotel so we ventured out.  We should have stayed in.

First we tried a restaurant recommended by one of the people at Jacuzzi winery, Jeffrey's Hillside Diner, right here in Santa Rosa.  They were closed.  Bummer.

We had walked past a restaurant attached to the Hotel LaRose as we were wandering around town yesterday and decided to give it a try.  It turned out to be a mistake.

We were greeted right at entry by the person who appeared to be the maitre de.  He told us we could sit anywhere, so we did.  He dropped off menus right away.

It took almost 10 minutes for a waiter to arrive and take our order.   We ordered breakfast, nothing fancy, we knew we were going to have a big meal at 2pm.  I ordered an egg-white omelet with tomatoes, spinach and goat cheese.  I wanted avocado but was told they were out of that.  Dave ordered French toast.  We also ordered water and coffee.  The waiter disappeared.

I must note that there were four other tables occupied at this time.  All tables of 2 with one exception of a table of 3.  The place was not busy.

While we were waiting for our coffee and water we notice the maitre de stop at one of the tables and ask if everything was ok.  It wasn't.  They had been there when we got there and still didn't have water, their coffee or the juice they had ordered.  He assured them he would "check on it".

Another 10 minutes later, about when Dave was suggesting we just leave and go back to the hotel, Dave flagged down the waitress who was also working in the restaurant and asked her if we could get our coffee (remember there were only 5 tables in total with people at them, with two wait staff and a maitre de there should have been NO service issues).  She said she would "check on it".

A few minutes later our waiter arrived with coffee, regular for Dave and decaf for me.  Mine was in a dirty cup, a really dirty cup, and it was a significantly different color than Dave's, looking like there might be something in it.  We flagged the waiter down and he assured us that the color difference was just because it was decaf but he said he didn't notice the dirty cup and would get me another one.  The next cup of decaf was in a clean (I think) mug but looked exactly the same.  One sip and I knew, it was instant!

It was another 15 minutes before we saw our food.  During the time we waited the maitre de stopped at the table next to us and asked the couple if everything was satisfactory.  They said that it was taking an inordinately long time for their food.  He said he would check on that.

When our food finally arrived mine was inedible.  First, based on the size of the omelet there was no way there were three egg whites there.  There was so much grease it was completely inedible.  I took one bite and my mouth was coated.  It tasted terrible. I ate my side of fruit.

Dave's French toast was ok, not fabulous, not terrible, just ok.

We asked for our check the next time the waiter showed his face.  Luckily he brought it promptly and we paid cash.  Who knows how long it would have taken to get change!

As we walked out we wished the folks at the table next to us luck.

So that's how the day started.  It did get better though!  After breakfast we came back to the room and relaxed.  I wrote the Day 2 version of this blog and Dave watched some TV then it was time to get dressed and head to Healdsburg for Thanksgiving dinner!

We left early and took some time to just drive through some vineyards.  It was a beautiful day here, perfect for a long, leisurely drive.

We had dinner reservations at Madrona Manor.  We've wanted to go here for a couple of trips to this area.  The Manor and grounds are beautiful!






Dinner was paired with wine (though based on what I read online when I made the reservations AND on the menu put in front of us it looked like the wine pairing was included, it wasn't, the extra almost $100 on the bill was a bit of a shock).

For the first course we had our choice of Black River Osetra Cavier (which was marked with a $45 up charge... note the wine pairing wasn't!) or a Lobster Chowder.  Dave and I both opted for the chowder.  It was absolutely delicious.  The broth tasted like lobster, not chicken or fish broth or some other salty broth, it tasted like liquid lobster!  This was paired with a LaMarca Prosecco from Italy.  I love prosecco, Dave not so much, so more for me!


We were also served a selection of dinner breads including corn bread and a cheese biscuit.  Normally I wouldn't have eaten the biscuit.  I've had these at other restaurants and they are overwhelmingly cheesy or salty or worse, both.  I just don't care for them.  These were different.  They were subtly cheesy with nice herb flavor as well.  The plan was to save the calories for wine but I just kept taking little bits of it until it was gone!

For the second course we had our choice of an autumn salad which had persimmons, pine nuts and pomegranate or a truffle risotto with pumpkin and parmesan-reggiano.  Dave had the salad, I had the risotto.  I also opted for the shaved truffle on top.  I've never actually had a truffle so I thought I'd try it even though there was a significant up charge for it!  I have to say, I don't really need another one.  They really don't taste like much at all, I'm not sure what all the hype is about.  The few shavings certainly weren't worth $45 to me!  I'd much rather have a nice bottle of wine with that money!  The risotto itself however was divine.  Some are too salty or too thick, this was perfectly textured and you could taste the pumpkin.  It was delicious.  The autumn salad was paired with a German Riesling.  Dave actually like it!  Our server accidentally poured me a glass too.  Too sweet.  Lucky Dave more for him!  The waitress came back and poured me a delicious chardonnay to go with my risotto.  I didn't share that!



Dinner was roasted turkey with chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes and "all the trimmings" which was gravy and cranberry.  It was all good.  The turkey was well prepared, not dry and the potatoes were creamy.  The star for me however was the cranberry.  It was perfectly prepared!  There was the perfect amount of sugar so that you could taste the cranberry but it wasn't so tart you couldn't eat it.  It wasn't full of citrus so it tasted like a marmalade either.  I really liked it!  I find it rare that you get really good cranberry so I had to blather on about it here!  Dinner was served with a nice pinot noir.  It was more a "me" pinot than a "Dave" pinot, more fruity than earthy but it was good.


And then there was dessert.  We ordered one of each.  I had the Pear and Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding and Dave had the Pumpkin Custard.  Both were absolutely delicious!  These were supposed to be served with a dessert wine but Dave asked if we could just have more pinot and they obliged.



So dinner far made up for breakfast.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the hotel room with that free bottle of wine from Kunde!

Tomorrow we get to meet Gustavo Brambila and we go to a Family Table at Seghesio.  I can't wait!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



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