When life gives you lemons, serve Pabst Blue Ribbon, cocktails and a solid poutine.
After nearly a year of waiting, downtown Santa Rosa’s 2 Tread Brewing Company has opened in the Santa Rosa Plaza. That’s the good news, along with a 3,000 square foot patio, indoor/outdoor seating and a solid start for the kitchen and service. The bad news: The brewing part of 2 Tread isn’t quite up and brewing yet.
“Our beer should be available in about 4 to 8 weeks,” said co-owner Bill Drury. “We just want to do it right.”
Facing the dwindling days of summer, Drury and his business partners punted and opened in late September anyway. Until their own beers are ready, they’ve got some solid beers on draft including Founders Rubaeus (a raspberry brew that’s sweet, tart and very unbeer-like) and Founders Kentucky Bourbon Stout (stout with chocolate and coffee notes), along with Seismic PA Namazu, Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion, Barrel Brothers Dark Sarcasm Porter…along with PBR and Coors Light, natch.
“We don’t want to be snobby,” said Drury, who shared a few of his favorites in tiny tasting glasses. The beer selection will change up frequently and their own 2 Tread beers should take center stage in late fall, as brewmaster Christian August (formerly of Firestone Walker) gets the brewpub’s seven tanks up to speed.
With more than 6,000 square feet of space, 2 Tread Brewing Company is now one of the largest restaurants downtown. But it’s also the sixth beer-focused pub in central Santa Rosa, begging the question of how many craft beer spots the city can really support. So far, the answer has been quite a few,–still somewhat ironic in Wine Country, though less and less surprising as Sonoma County embraces its hoppy past.
The distinguishing pluses for 2 Tread Brewing Company, at least before anyone tries the beer, is the outdoor space and the food. Roll-up doors increase the sizable beer garden that stretches to the sidewalk outside the Plaza. Owners also hope to capitalize on their own passion for bicycles (hence the name and the logo), offering on-site bike parking and a ride-up patio.
“It killed me that there weren’t places here where you could show up on your bike and have a beer outside,” said Drury, a former pharmaceutical researcher. “We’re filling a niche for people who like hanging out outside.”
The space formerly housed Fresh Choice, though it retains none of the original design. Or food philosophy.
Chef Mike Gaylord heads the kitchen, working with co-owner Tracy Heydorn on the menu. A vet of K&L Bistro, El Paseo in Mill Valley and Nick’s Cove in Marshall, Gaylord’s food has the rare quality of being both approachable and intriguing — sweet potato tots served alongside locally-grown citrus and herb marinated beets with whipped chevre; hot wings and burgers beside Caprese salad with housemade mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes or wild mushroom flatbread.
That kind of ambition, along with a staggering 34-item menu could go horribly wrong in less-capable hands. Despite normal glitches and inconsistencies of the opening weeks, the menu seems surprisingly settled in for a fledgling restaurant.
Here, families with toddlers can lounge outside while sports fans watch the game at the bar and young couples gather for after-work cocktails, a vibrant cross-section of the city where PBR and Coors Light can co-exist peacefully with craft brews, mountain bikes and croquettes.
“We just want to be able to really appreciate where we live,” said Drury.
Best bets at 2 Tread Brewing Company
Citrus and herb marinated beets ($9): What could be a simple salad with beets is elevated with tangy whipped goat cheese, a pairing that brings out the earthiness in both. Arugula and vinegar give it a kick. You love it, or you gag, but hey, that’s beets for you.
Fried Shishito Peppers ($6): If you aren’t willing to play roulette with the chance you’ll get a hot pepper in the mix (about 1 in 10 are usually super spicy) steer clear. But creamy tarragon aioli helps temper any rogues.
Roasted Corn Fritter ($6): These hush puppy-style fritters are beautifully presented, with a smear of spicy aioli. The carefully cut lime supremes may be lost on the beer crowd, but we liked them, despite needing a bit more sauce.
Caprese ($15): Though I usually hate wasting time talking about salads (it’s lettuce, people), the house mozzarella, basil and heirloom tomatoes, with just a hint of sweet balsamic, are so perfect this time of year, it’s worth a mention. We polished off two servings pretty handily.
Tempura Veggies with Yuzu aioli ($13): Yes, aioli is a thing here, because, well it’s basically flavored mayonnaise and it goes really well with beer. This addition happened after a vegan lettuce cup fell flat, and though the tempura is still a work in progress, the yuzu dip was a tasty surprise.
2 Tread Burger ($14): This one’s a beauty, though our medium-rare turned out well-done. With lots of fresh produce and tasty Niman Ranch grass-fed beef, a burger we’ll go back for.
Spice Rubbed Prime Hangar Steak ($30): Perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, with a light chimmichurri sauce, green beans and roasted garlic. Delightfully simple, but with a mystery. “What are you supposed to do with a bulb of roasted garlic?” we wondered.
Fisherman’s Trail Cocktail ($11): Tito’s Vodka, Gifford’s elderflower liqueur, pomegranate and lime juice. A little light on vodka, but so quaffable. Tart, sweet, heavenly.
Also on the menu
Flat Breads ($15.50): These still needed work on our visits, either turning out a little doughy or a little overcooked.
Pan Roasted Pork Chop ($28): Can we just get a side of the insanely good roasted corn salsa with chorizo and lime crema?
Sweet Potato Tots ($6): Great for snacking. Nothing amazing, but who doesn’t live for chipotle aioli?
Poutine ($9): Fries, cheese curds, gravy. Never disparage this Canadian comfort food in front of our neighbors to the north. The gravy is the key, and should be beefy, but not gelatinous. Our first plate leaned toward the later, but a later version was excellent.
Good for: Families, first dates, comfort food, cocktails, small plates, under $10 dishes, burgers, large groups
Overall: A large beer garden, good food and a brewery (to come), 2 Tread rolls into Santa Rosa with some serious steam.
2 Tread Brewing Company is located at 1018 Santa Rosa Plaza, Santa Rosa, 707-757-5380, 2treadbrewing.com. Open daily from 11a.m. to 11p.m.