Stunning vineyard views and sweeping coastal vistas aren’t difficult to find in Sonoma County, but dining much above ground level is a rarity due in large part to building height restrictions in our bucolic retreat.
But there are two places you can savor a meal while aloft — at the new Montage Resort’s Olive Terrace and at the Rooftop Bar at Harmon Guest House.
Stepping onto the Montage Resort’s sweeping patio perched high above the Alexander Valley is a jaw-dropping, showstopping adventure that requires at least one oooh and ahhhh no matter how fancy you are.
Overlooking hundreds of acres of undeveloped land, the ultra-luxury resort’s Olive Terrace is every bit the ultimate Wine Country destination, with fire pits and cozy rocking chairs and high-topped bar tables, but also with a multimillion-dollar treetop view. You’re in rarefied air here.
Hazel Hill, which remains closed to indoor diners, also has a cantilevered dining room to enjoy later. But for now, you can experience the high-end restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner or the more casual Scout Field Bar for cocktails from mixologist Scott Beattie and a quick bite.
Lunch or evening cocktails are best bets for a meetup with friends you’ve only seen Zoom for the past year.
French Onion En Croute, $18: Sherry (along with beef broth) is the magic ingredient so often missing in ho-hum onion soup. Plenty of caramelized onions, not so much Gruyere as to become a choke-hazard and a lovely raft of a crouton.
Journeyman Charcuterie, $20: Healdsburg’s own aged meats with pickled olives and mustard. The bonus add-on is warm bread.
Heirloom Carrots, $16: Sturdy but not crunchy is the true measure of good carrots. Dressed with horseradish, mâche, buckwheat and coconut yogurt, they’re close-up ready.
Wagyu Beef Tartare, $22 (Hazel Hill): The best dish we tried. Beautiful bits of raw Wagyu beef with garlic chips and bone marrow toast.
Fern Canyon, $18: If you’re a whiskey fan, don’t miss this very grown-up cocktail with Suntory Toki Japanese Whiskey, Campari, Vya Sweet Vermouth, Tiki Bitters — and if you’re lucky — a twist of fresh yuzu from Scott Beattie’s yard.
Fusilli “Bolognese,” $24: The menu includes plenty of vegan and gluten-free dishes. But this vegetarian version of a a much-loved meat dish is infused with too much basil and nutritional yeast.
Hazel Hill and Scout Field Bar are open to the public, but reservations are highly suggested. And I’m suggesting you not arrive looking shlumpy. Also clean out your car because some poor valet is going to have to park it. 100 Montage Way, Healdsburg, 707-979-9000, montagehotels.com/healdsburg
Moving On Up
Four stories above downtown Healdsburg, the Rooftop Bar is one of those perfect spots with just a handful of tables, ridiculously good cocktails and a curated list of dishes overseen by Thomas Mulligan and Francisco “Poncho” Alverez, both alums of sister restaurants Spoonbar and Barndiva.
Housed in the newish Harmon Guest House, it’s an intimate space with a view of Fitch Mountain and the goings-on below. A warm fire pit and table-side heaters keep things cozy as the sun sets. The rooftop is open 3 – 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 – 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It’s first come, first served and no reservations are taken. Insider tip: Monday night is $1 oyster night.
Shishito Peppers, $12: Enough for a crowd, these charred, finger-length peppers are rarely hot. Lemon aioli and smoked dashi ponzu add bright flavor, accented by brine-y wisps of bonito flakes.
Warm Crab Roll, $28: Stuffed with Dungeness crab and hugged by a soft brioche roll, this is an excellent (if slightly petite) must-have before the season ends. Light basil pesto adds to, rather than overpowers, the sweet fresh crab meat. Served with shoestring fries.
Lobster Arancini, $18: Fried balls of generous chunks of lobster and creamy risotto.
Rooftop Taco, $8: A little steep for a taco, but the beer-battered sole is light and flaky, and creamy chipotle cabbage brings it all together.
Cocktails range simple to over-the-top, but we were most impressed by the Herbal ($14) with Sonoma Brothers rye, genmaicha tea, mint, lime and rosemary thyme syrup. A total summer sipper. Also try the Blue Rose, with gin, blueberries, a tart shrub and rose water. Aromatic and lovely. General Manager Ryan Birrer has selected a fascinating list of small-production wines.
Harmon Guest House’s Rooftop Bar, 227 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-431-8220, harmonguesthouse.com