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County Bench Opens in Santa Rosa

A new American Restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa, County Bench, is an upscale newcomer for business lunches, cocktails and dinner

Milk punch at County Bench in Santa Rosa on 6/6/16. Heather irwin/PD
Milk punch at County Bench in Santa Rosa on 6/6/16. Heather irwin/PD

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Just a quick hit on this brand new downtown Santa Rosa restaurant before I do a deeper dive in the coming weeks, but The County Bench seems to be an out-of-the-gate hit. Michelin-starred chef Bruce Frieseke (Applewood, Bella Vineyards) and Ben Davies (Petite Syrah, Spoonbar, Mirepoix) are flexing their culinary muscles with seemingly simple dishes that are anything but.

Popcorn + corn at County Bench in Santa Rosa, Ca on 6/1/16. Heather Irwin/PD
Popcorn + corn at County Bench in Santa Rosa, Ca on 6/1/16. Heather Irwin/PD

Popcorn+corn ($4) is popcorn with freeze dried powdered corn and chili sprinkled on top that’s so addictive you’ll want one to take home. Deviled eggs get upstaged by Deviled Brussels sprouts ($4), and sizzling side dish of cauliflower, brown butter and oxtail ($8) stole the show. Desserts are stunners, and the wine list is an ambitious 10-plus pages.

Deviled brussels sprouts at The County Bench in Santa Rosa, CA. Heather Irwin/PD
Deviled brussels sprouts at The County Bench in Santa Rosa, CA. Heather Irwin/PD

Craft cocktails are having a spring resurgence, and their NYC cocktail wrangler knows his way around the bar with insanely complicated sippers like a clarified Milk Punch ($13) with jasmine tea, arrack (a rare spirit from Southeast Asia) and gin along with simpler classic cocktails. We’re stoked to see a restaurant this cosmopolitan on Fourth St. , and hope its a sign of more great things to come.

Chili chicken drumsticks at County Bench in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD
Chili chicken drumsticks at County Bench in Santa Rosa. Heather Irwin/PD

Keep in mind, this isn’t a stuffed shirt spot (though its pretty swank for dinner), and is serving both lunch and brunch on the weekend.

Milk punch at County Bench in Santa Rosa on 6/6/16. Heather irwin/PD
Milk punch at County Bench in Santa Rosa on 6/6/16. Heather irwin/PD

The County Bench: Lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30a.m. to 2p.m., dinner from 5p.m. daily, Brunch 10a.m. to 2p.m. Saturday and Sunday and happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-6p.m. 535 Fourth St., Santa Rosa.

Dessert of Sour creme mousse, chocolate crispies, ganache at The County Bench in Santa Rosa, 6/1/16. Heather Irwin, PD
Dessert of Sour creme mousse, chocolate crispies, ganache at The County Bench in Santa Rosa, 6/1/16. Heather Irwin, PD

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13 thoughts on “County Bench Opens in Santa Rosa

  1. So disappointed. First, this is Santa Rosa in Sonoma wine country not San Francisco. The wine list is totally overpriced – get real. $25 corkage – absurd! Too much. I can understand why everyone was drinking water – not even anyone drinking a beer.

    Food was shareable (only mentioned by the waiter and should have been noted on the menu). Everything we ordered needed salt or some kind of seasoning. “Crispy” drumsticks were fatty and not crispy. Grilled short ribs had NO flavor – none. If you’re going to say grilled short ribs and serve them Korean style of cut, then you should say so or explain a little better on the menu.

    We go out quite a bit and to the City quite a bit. While we loved the cooking from Ben Davies when he was at Mirepoix, it didn’t seem like any of his expertise was on the menu.

    They need to be more local and wine country friendly. People visiting usually like to take a bottle that they have discovered out to dinner with them. But, $25 for corkage not our scene – maybe at the old Cyrus but not here. They need to get a better wine manager and bring down their prices or they’ll be stuck with a lot of wine.

    Service was great, friendly and evenly paced. Sorry, we won’t be back.

    1. p.s. On another note, we were so hungry after spending over $70 for lunch (because the food was fatty and bland), that we popped over to La Rosa Tequileria. The waiter told us he gets a lot of people that do the same thing because they don’t get enough food from The County Bench and won’t recommend it to their customers who ask. Don’t really want to put the restaurant down and I know they haven’t been open that long, but they really have to understand the demographics of where they are and it certainly isn’t in SF.

    1. “Arrack” and “Arak” are two different things. Arrack is an Indonesian alcoholic drink made from fermented coconut flowers and sugarcane. Arak is a middle eastern anise flavored liquor. You’re both right.

  2. Anybody know, will this place be open as a late night bar spot on weekends like Portofino was??? (I.E. open til 1:30am)

      1. Lame. Portofino was such a great late night spot / bar on the weekends, I’m very sad that the new owner/business is going to let that part of the business die and not continue it.

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