30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

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30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Liberty Farms duck leg with pistachio dukka, baba ganoush and pomagrates is the Best Sonoma County Restaurant Dish of 2015. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Ribs, hush puppies, cornbread and Brussels sprouts at KINSmoke. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Tuna crudo at Applewood Restaurant in Guerneville (now closed). (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Best Sonoma County Restaurant Dishes of 2015: Grits with preserved egg, hen of the woods mushrooms, schmaltz at Bird and The Bottle in Santa Rosa. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

“Craft” mac and cheese with mortadella and fried Brussels sprouts: Bird and The Bottle. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Wild fennel soup with smoked trout at SHED Cafe in Healdsburg. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Pork belly, mozzarella, and duck confit at Barndiva Bistro in Healdsburg. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Spleen mousse (served at a special no-waste dinner): Backyard Restaurant, one of the Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

BBQ pork banh mi: Simply Vietnam Express one of the Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Chile Pies’ sweet apple and chile pie with a drizzle of chile-infused honey with Nimble and Finn’s Manhattan (whisky, vermouth and cherry chunks). (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Mangalitsa charcuterie from Del Dotto Vineyards. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Dungeness crab salad at Dry Creek Kitchen. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Seared foie gras with baby kiwi and almonds at Valette in Healdsburg. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

House granola with stewed prunes: Fork Roadhouse. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Bacon scone from Dominique’s Sweets: Franchetti’s Kitchen. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Indian frybread at Outside Lands 2015, one of my favorite dishes of 2015. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Mixed mezze platter: Grape Leaf Mediterranean Grill, one of the Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Gnocchi at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Short ribs and polenta: Hazel Restaurant. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Panzanella salad with burrata at Heritage Public House (now closed). (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Smoked chicken with sweet potato smash and collards at Heritage public house (Now closed). (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Kougin amann and French pastry from Pascaline Bakery in Forestville. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Polenta with marinara from the Pasta King at the Sonoma County Fair. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Beet, arugula and burrata salad at Persona Pizza. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Octopus skewers and boba tea at Quickly in Santa Rosa. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Pork belly Yakitori: Ramen Gaijin. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Smoked whitefish salad at Ramen Gaijin. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Candy Cap mushroom churros: Sam’s Social Club. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Fish tacos from Santa Rosa Seafood Cafe. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Chia parfait from Seed on the Go. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

Shakshouka from Goodman’s Jewish Deli. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

They’re not pretty, but dang they were good. BBQ nachos at Sweet T’s in Santa Rosa. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato): Wishbone. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

30 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015 in Sonoma County

East meets west in the pastry case at East Wind Bakery in Santa Rosa. (Photo / Heather Irwin)

From our food blogger, Heather Irwin of BiteClubEats.

As the year comes to a close, it’s always fun to look back at the best dishes of the year — or at least my favorites.

Choosing the best from hundreds of meals isn’t easy, and admittedly is rather subjective, but a few dozen rise to the top as truly special.

Anyone who’s dined with me knows the gratified look I reserve for these remarkable, memorable dishes and the hand clapping that usually accompanies it (I’m not subtle). So, what makes a great dish for me? It’s a combination of flavor, mouthfeel and elements of surprise that I find most delightful — which can come in almost any form, and at any price point.

Some are from fancy restaurants you know, others from food trucks or strip mall finds, or even a standout dish from a restaurant that I didn’t otherwise find memorable. For example, on the affordable end of the spectrum, I fell in love with a vegan chia parfait from Seed on the Go, Indian flatbread at the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco and a bowl of shakshouka (basically eggs in a spicy, Mediterranean tomato sauce) from Goodman’s Jewish Deli. At the luxe end, a beautiful plate of seared foie gras at Valette captured my heart.

In the end, however, there had to be a single winner, and this year it was a Liberty Farms duck leg with pomegranate, baba ganoush and pistachio dukkah at SHED Cafe in Healdsburg. A perfect Mediterranean dish influenced by local ingredients with kicks of flavor — smoky, sweet, herbaceous and loaded with personality.

“Many dishes on the menu are vegetable-centric,” said Chef Perry Hoffman, who recently took over as Culinary Director, and created the dish. “The duck is almost an afterthought, but it works perfectly,” he said.

It was hard to pick a single favorite dish from Hoffman’s menu, with each course a surprise and delighted featuring root vegetables from nearby farms, fresh herbs and high-end plating, including dry farmed roasted potatoes with garlic aioli, carrot salad with bee balm and yogurt; wild fennel soup with smoked salmon (now off the menu until April) and braised beef cheeks with persimmons.

After multiple courses, I remember getting up from the meal and thinking it was one of the most intriguing and unexpectedly wonderful experiences of the year. Prices range from $9 to $25 for dinner.

See all the dishes in the gallery above.

See the original post on BiteClub here.

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