By Ella Lawrence
Editor's note: First Bite is a new concept in restaurant writing. We invite you to come along with our writers as they--informed, intelligent eaters like yourselves--have a simple meal at an area restaurant, just like you do. This is not a go-three-times, try-everything-on-the-menu report; rather, this is a quick snapshot of a single experience.
Flavor, one of Santa Rosa's newest dining spots, really does live up to the buzz. The restaurant, which prides itself on serving organic meats and greens in a stellar menu lineup, offers many dishes worthy of a white tablecloth restaurant but at paper-napkin prices.
I've been here many times and been many times pleased. On this particular Friday, we started off with the cheese plate ($6.95). Hearty portions of Humboldt Fog, Point Reyes Blue and Mount Tam's Cowgirl Creamery were drizzled with honey and more honey. The cheeses were fantastic, but the dish overall was too sweet--I'd recommend asking for the honey on the side. A red-wine-poached sliced pear, some walnut brittle and poached raisins in three colors added to the sugariness of the dish. It probably would have been better to save as a dessert.
Flavor offers half-pours of wine, so we enjoyed the cheese plate with a Ridge Zinfandel ($4) and a Bradford Mountain Zin ($4). Our main courses were sandwiches, served on house-made focaccia buns. The daily special was a mahi-mahi sandwich (also known as dorado in its native waters), served with a too-dressed salad ($9.50). The flavors in the herbed vinaigrette were divine and the greens ultrafresh and organic, but the amount of dressing was a little disconcerting. The mahi sandwich literally poured juice out the bottom of the bun (as grilled fish is wont to do), so don't order it if you're on a date. The house-made tartar sauce was tasty, though the roasted tomato spread was not too memorable.
The cheeseburger ($8.95), also served on the nicely herbed focaccia bun, was presented rare (the server didn't ask how we preferred it cooked); luckily we're fond of our beef nearly mooing. The shoestring fries were obviously house-made and delicious. The sandwiches paired nicely with half-pours of Olivet Lane Pinot Noir ($4.50). Flavor's wine list does a fantastic job of showcasing local boutique treasures, and the half-pours are perfect for the lunching wine connoisseur who's got to return to work.
Flavor, 96 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa. Open for pastries and coffee at 6:30am; serving full lunch and dinner menus, 11am to 10pm, Monday-Saturday. 707.573.9695.
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From the July 6-12, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.