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Chicken Skin BLT at Space XXV

Wandering into Space XXV, you can’t help but feel like you’re in someone’s living room. Scratch that: Someone with amazingly good taste and very expensive furniture’s living room. There are crystal chandeliers and faux fur throws on velvet chaise lounges for goodness sakes. Are we still in Santa Rosa? The lovechild of a designer showroom and a chef-driven cafe, this spanking new downtown lounge seems almost too good to be true, as does its refreshingly earnest chef, John Lyle.

Nestled into a narrow strip of space between the new La Rosa Tequileria and the local police outpost in Courthouse Square, owner Kendrick Rustad’s concept for XXV was for a relaxing, upscale lounge where folks could chill, read, sip and eat really good food. Mission accomplished.

Lyle (formerly a personal chef and Fresh by Lisa Hemenway alum) has taken the mantra of good food to the extreme, handpicking produce at his favorite local farms at 4:30am, getting Della Fattoria bread deliveries at 5:30am, then concocting salads and sandwiches to match the luxe decor (but at refreshingly reasonable prices…most everything is under $10).

On the menu is a whole leaf Caesar (using the original recipe from Caesar Cardin, $8.95); a seasonal roasted beet salad that turns root vegetables into jewels of sweet candy ($8.95); roast beef sandwich with black truffle aioli; ($8.95) a reuben with local kraut and Russian dressing ($10.50); Umami Grilled cheese with St. Georges cheese, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms ($8) and, wait for it…a BLT on soft white bread with a snap of crispy chicken skin. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, well, just move along.

“I just want the best food, and it’s all from here,” said Lyle, who literally gushes about his favorite local purveyors without a hint of irony or pomp. “What brought me to Sonoma County? St. George Cheese. Really,” he adds.

For dessert, Lyle does a trio of sorbets using Nancy Skall’s Middleton Farm strawberries and two types of melon. But expect the menu to change up with Lyle’s most recent farm finds — meaning what you loved one day may not be on the menu the next. Breakfast pastries, coffee plus beer and wine. Open until 10pm daily.

Space XXV, 25 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa, 284-3120.