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Ancient Food Journey at Flower and Bone in Santa Rosa

Naked Pig owners focus their second restaurant on preservation and Old Ways eating at Flower and Bone

Flower and Bone. Photo: Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine
Flower and Bone. Photo: Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine

Flower and Bone in Santa Rosa is one of Biteclub’s Hot Picks of 2017

Dalia Martinez wants your plums. She also wants your nasturtiums, your apples, your persimmons, your Meyer lemons and the baby pine cones on your fir tree. In fact, she forages for just about anything edible that might otherwise end up squished, rotted or otherwise ignored in the yards and fields around her Santa Rosa restaurant.

Chef/owner Dalia Martinez of Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Chef/owner Dalia Martinez of Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.

Martinez combs her neighborhood and backyard farm daily looking for tasty tidbits she can preserve, can, puree or otherwise incorporate into the sweet and savory stories she concocts at Flower + Bone, a new eatery she’s opened with partner Jason Sakach. The couple also owns Santa Rosa breakfast/brunch/lunch spot Naked Pig.

Dalia Martinez and Jason Sokach of flower and bone in Santa Rosa. Heather irwin/PD
Dalia Martinez and Jason Sokach of flower and bone in Santa Rosa. Heather irwin/PD

Preservation is the thread that runs through just about everything at Flower + Bone. Jewel-colored jars line a wall of the restaurant, filled with preserved tomatoes, plums, relishes and pickled vegetables, memories of a summer past that will brighten dishes for the months to come.

The restaurant’s broader mission, however, is preserving the Old Ways of eating—ancient traditions—from slow-cooked meats and fermented breads cooked in a tandoor oven to bone broths and handmade dumplings.

Polish dumplings at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Polish dumplings at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.

“You may be the only person in the world to eat exactly this,” said Martinez, placing a dish of **Polish dumplings with brown butter, wild foraged chanterelles and tiny green fir cones on the table**. Tomorrow, the ingredients may change slightly, as the fir cones she collected this morning run out, and she stumbles across something new. But in this exact moment, eating this exact dish, in this exact place, the dish has an entirely unique character with the creamy, nutty richness of the butter, the wet earthiness of mushrooms, the faint antiseptic flavor of the young pine cones.

Dalia Martinez at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Dalia Martinez at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.

With that kind of thought being put into every dish, it feels almost rude to lumber clumsily through the meal without intention. Instead, Flower + Bone is best enjoyed thoughtfully, slowly, contemplatively. The “Full Story” six-course tasting menu ($67) provides that kind of context.The first course, a simple cup of **steaming toasted rice broth**, sets the tone. Like everything here, it beckons to every sense: The calm blue of the clay cup, the smell of toasted rice, the warmth of the vessel in your hand, the barely-there flavor that lingers in the back of your throat.

Rice tea at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.

Each successive course tells another part of the Flower + Bone story. Pulling from culinary traditions of Eastern Europe, India, Pakistan and Asia, the dishes feel both familiar and exotic; refined and homey; worthy of introspection, but best shared with friends and family who can appreciate the intent of the chef.

Here’s a sample journey through Flower + Bone…

Egg salad at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Egg salad at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.

**Sieved egg salad with paprika, wax beans and spelt toast** (out of my great-grandmother’s playbook) that’s as sturdy as babushka’s support hose. But way more delicious.

Tandoor chicken with fig preserves at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Tandoor chicken with fig preserves at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.

**Tandoor chicken, naan, lentils with sour cream and wild foraged weeds**: Another sturdy course, that’s leavened with moist, flavorful “morsels” of chicken from their wood-fired tandoor. Smashed lentils with tangy sour cream they’ve cultured at the restaurant is my new obsession, and the tiny salad is literally a collection of edible flowers and leaves with just a splash of vinaigrette. The wheat and rye naan uses natural yeasts in the air, giving it — and many of the other dishes — a flavor that’s not just unique to the region, but of the restaurant itself, and even of a particular day. That’s serious terroir.

Beef Shank stew at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.Beef Shank stew at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Beef Shank stew at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Flower and Bone. Photo: Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine
Flower and Bone. Photo: Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine

**Nihari beef shank stew, quinoa pilaf, foraged orange and house cheese**: A Yelp review of the restaurant bemoaned the fact that her meat had fat on it. Martinez intentionally leaves some fat on her meat, because fat is flavor. Braised in bone broth, wine and spices this is luxe peasant food. The flavorful, nutty pilaf has bits of fruit leather and raisins to give it a sweet complexity.

Dessert at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Courtesy photo
Dessert at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Courtesy photo

**Pluot hooch and gold truffle, cheesecake with preserved plum sauce, lemon curd and nettle tea**: Infused with bang-pow flavors, these tiny bites packed more punch than a clunky cake or pie. I rarely use the word perfect, but Flower + Bone’s lemon curd is, well, perfect. Nettle tea helps digestion and lets the diner linger a bit.

Plum hooch at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Plum hooch at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.

**Plum Hooch**: Don’t miss a chance to try their homemade plum booze, a slightly tart, slightly fruity sip made from foraged fruit. Other drinks: Fennel, salted orange and soju ($12), whey and lime on ice, or various wines, beer or coffee.

Though Flower + Bone, with its large communal table in the back and smaller, more intimate tables up front, is meant to be a gathering place for the community. But it’s also not a place that everyone is going to appreciate. The prices reflect the commitment Jason and Dalia put into each dish, using manual techniques, supporting local farmers and ranchers, and wanting perfection in ingredients. They waste almost nothing, and portions are small, though not stingy.

“No one leaves hungry,” said Dalia. “We ask if people are full. If they’re still hungry, we can serve them more,” she said. So far only one patron has asked for seconds she said.

 


Some dishes can be ordered a la carte, or mezze style, ranging from $11-18 if you’re just looking for a nibble or two. Lunch is also served two days a week, with simpler naan wraps, cheese and preserve-stuffed philo pastries and salads, though the daily specials change up frequently.

In a world of fast-casual, buffets and drive-thru, sometimes it’s nice to stop and smell the roses along the journey. Just leave a few for Dalia to collect for her summer preserves.

Quinoa pilaf at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.
Quinoa pilaf at Flower + Bone restaurant in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine.


Flower + Bone is at 650 Fifth St., Santa Rosa, 707-708-8529, flowerandbonerestaurant.com. Lunch is served from 11a.m. to 3p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; dinner Thursday through Saturday from 6-9p.m. Reservations suggested but not required.

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Comments

12 thoughts on “Ancient Food Journey at Flower and Bone in Santa Rosa

  1. Long-time Naked Pig fan. Finally went to Flower and Bone and thought it was tremendous. Ingredient quality is tremendous. It’s creative. I even like the bare bones decor. I want this place to succeed.

  2. Long-time Naked Pig fan. Finally went to Flower and Bone and thought it was tremendous. Ingredient quality is tremendous. It’s creative. I even like the bare bones decor. I want this place to succeed.

  3. We visited Flower and Bone for my sons 21st birthday dinner (his request after a long winter working in Tahoe – he asked for a Sonoma County food experience! ) I was a little nervous going in. Didn’t really know what to expect but I knew it would be interesting, no matter what, since we already love the Naked Pig! We enjoyed the “Full Story,” and they made wonderful accommodations for the vegetarian in our party. We loved everything (ok, I hate to admit – I’m not a fan of asparagus, but when I sheepishly admitted that to out server, they kindly prepared a separate, asparagus-free salad for me.), A real “must try” even if you are only a mildly adventurous eater. You will not be disappointed, and you will walk away fully satisfied. The quail stroganoff was the highlight for me, the flavors were pefect, intense, balanced, and left me wanting a few more bites, even though I was pretty stuffed, and still had the dessert course to go!

  4. The name of this place makes me think of a cemetery. Does the owner REALLY forage food from people’s yards in santa rosa and serve it? Why? Seems bizarre.

    1. it’s actually illegal-against california food code to “forage” for food items and then serve to customers! it has to come from an approved source. a dog could have peed on it, a bird could have shat on it, a human with hepatitis could have spit on it, any number on things could have happened. As restaurant owners they are well aware of the rules and are choosing to ignore them, at the risk of their consumers. How does that make you feel? I sure as heck will never patronize any of their restaurants. what else do they do that they haven’t got caught for? They have an ABC violation posted as well. All public record…

  5. What is it with this spot and it’s penchant for attracting restauranteurs who missed the class on why to choose an inviting or at least somewhat appetizing restaurant name for their probably awesome food? Both Naked Pig and Flower and Bone make me think about death and hopeless scary vulnerability and least of all good food… but best wishes!

    1. I have to agree, I will say I am a vegetarian, but am not usually put off by the name of the restaurant. The name immediately for me conjured up rotting have eaten carcasses rotting in the sun,. Do yourself a favor change the name.

  6. If the food at Flower and Bone is as carefully prepared with the same quality ingrediants that are used at Naked Pig, this is going to be one bad-*** lunch spot. I can’t wait to try the Naan, and all the trimmings.

    Their sourcing work is for real. I met the chefs at a farmers market when I noticed one of them “cherry-picking” wee potatoes; and I asked “where are you cooking?” Naked pig has the freshest eggs, but shrooms, and veggies that weren’t long from the dirt. Oh ****. I’m hungry!

  7. When civilization crumbles and most of us are scrounging for dented cans in the rubble of old Safeways, I’ll really wish I lived next door to Dalia.

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