I’m always on the lookout for consistently great places to eat that aren’t too far from home. Places with chefs who know how to make the most of the amazingly fresh, organic produce that abounds around here. And when I say not too far from home, out here that means anywhere within a 20-25 minutes drive. The Spinster Sisters, on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, standing proudly on the corner of quiet back street just off the 101, fits the bill.
I first discovered The Spinster Sisters a while back, thanks to Lia Huber of Nourish Network. We met for lunch and what I remember most was the brussels sprout chips. Individually fried brussels leaves, topped with a wonderful lemon aioli that cuts the slight bitterness of the greens with just enough salt to round it all out. Every dish needs salt, fat and acid. Make it crispy and I’m a fan for life. I was tickled pink to find these still on the menu on a recent visit.
We headed to The Spinster Sisters after an afternoon concert at Weill Hall in Sonoma Co. when I realized we weren’t too far away and were feeling rather peckish. It was the run-up to the Super Bowl and I gather some rather important 49ers game was on TV, so the place was completely dead. In fact, I thought it was closed. We settled into a window seat and perused the menu, but not before immediately ordering said brussels sprout chips and along with some spiced nuts.
Monkey was in the mood for a burger. Actually, I think he was in the mood for a steak but that seemed like overkill for “lunner” – my made-up name for the meal between lunch and dinner – so I persuaded him to try the burger. The was no ordinary burger. It came with the promise of refried beans, gooey cheese, avocado and coleslaw – all inside the bun. Being the foodie that he is, Monkey ordered it medium rare. Knowing that I would be diving into his plate, whether he liked it or not, I ordered on the light side: carrots with harissa and poppy seeds, and beans and greens.
Now, I don’t whether it’s because waiters don’t believe kids really want to eat medium rare burgers, or whether they don’t pay attention to what kids order, or if in fact, they are not allowed to serve kids rare burgers (as we were told in the UK!), but EVERY SINGLE TIME, the poor kid orders his burger medium rare, it shows up WELL DONE. And I am not exaggerating. And sadly, this time was no exception. In fact, it also showed up sans avocado. Perhaps the kitchen just wasn’t busy enough that day – we were after all the only diners, but our waiter apologized profusely and soon brought back a replacement – which happened to be “blue”, but by this point we just went along with it.
My carrots were tasty, if rather on the spicy side and the beans and green were flavorful and tender.
Now, despite our burger experience, I do recommend this joint. We have been here a few times and generally the service has been good, the atmosphere buzzing, and the food is inventive and tasty – something that is sadly not too common around these parts. The interior is a lot of wood, concrete and metal, with enough art and personal touches not to feel cold. There’s a big table for groups in a nook surrounded by big bookcases laden with well, books. It’s a nice touch.
We didn’t try the desserts on this occasion, but I recall them to be good from our past visits. Check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
You can find The Spinster Sisters at 401 S A St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. Tel: 707 528 7100
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