With the facade of a stately Victorian manor and the soul of a chain-smoking, cocktail swirling 20-something, The Belvedere is one of Santa Rosa’s most beloved contradictions. And I mean that with love.

Anchoring the northwest corner of Mendocino Avenue’s Tipsy Triangle (including the 440 Club and Round Robin) the Belvedere looks more like a bed and breakfast than a bar. Which may explain its cache and a weekend hangout.

But ask about the restaurant and you’ll get puzzled looks. “They serve food?” In fact, they do.
It’s been an on-again off-again affair. Several years ago, attempts at a
high-end restaurant failed. Then nothing. Then Gary’s at the Belvedere
reopened with more modest ambitions — burger, salads and sports bar
fare. Steaks. Man-eats for the downstairs crowd.

Served Monday through Friday, the lunch menu is
simple: Burgers, steak sandwiches, Caesar salads and various
adaptations of the aforementioned. Salads with steak. Wraps with salad.
Infinite burger combinations involving bacon, barbecue sauce, mushrooms
and cheese.

Best bet is the burger, though you’ll have to suspend judgment about the puck-shaped disc of grilled chuck and cafeteria-like fries Though I’d lay bets that both
recently did some hard time in the big chiller, the grilled onion blue
cheese burger wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was a lot better than some
bloody awful burgers I’ve recently had the misfortune of eating. No,
the onions weren’t as caramelized as I’d like, but the buns were nicely
toasted and the presentation thoughtful, especially while sitting on
the wrap-around porch watching the world go by.
It’s a big, fat meal
for $11.99 (including a drink).

Dinner features some of the same appetizers and salads with the
addition of steaks and pasta. I’ll let you, dear readers, have that
adventure with managed expectations. Featuring 40 beers, a full bar, five pool tables and a smoker-friendly porch you
could do a whole lot worse than an afternoon or evening with front-row
seats to the crossroads of Santa Rosa.
And I mean that with love.

Gary’s at the Belvedere, 727 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.542.8705
(restaurant), 707.542.1890 (bar). Open for lunch Mon-Fri from 11am to
2pm, Dinner Mon-Sun, 5pm to 10pm.

PS: After this, no more burgers for a while. Promise. I’m done.