BiteClub, Restaurants

French Garden: Closed

If you know anything about Dan Smith, the owner of Sebastopol's French Garden Restaurant & Brasserie, you know that local boy-turned-entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist-
turned-restauranteur doesn't go down without a fight. Though he's struggled to attain his ambitious vision of a Michelin-starred farm-to-table eatery after two chef departures and mixed reviews of the cuisine since opening in 2006, he's far from throwing in the towel. In fact, he seems more excited about the restaurant than ever

If you know anything about Dan Smith, the owner of Sebastopol’s French Garden Restaurant & Brasserie, you know that local boy-turned-entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist-
turned-restauranteur
doesn’t go down without a fight. Though he’s struggled to attain his
ambitious vision of a Michelin-starred farm-to-table eatery after two
chef departures and mixed reviews of the cuisine since opening in 2006,
he’s far from throwing in the towel. In fact, he seems more excited
about the restaurant than ever.
After bidding au revoir to recent chef Christophe Bony, Smith conducted an extensive chef hunt which included “tryouts” by at least two very well known SoCo chefs. Very well-known.
Neither was a fit but BiteClub got the news this week that Smith has named Frenchman Didier Gerbi (a Craigslist find, no less) to the position. Recently arrived from the Languedoc region of southern France, Didier will be overhauling the menu to better reflect more Mediterranean influences
over the next few weeks. He’s also been tasked with better utilizing
the farm’s produce (Smith says it’s a rare chef who actually gets the
farm-to-table philosophy) and moving the price point down from
the current $23 to $30 entrees to a more approachable $20 range.
Appetizers and second courses will move into the $10 to $15 range. “We
want it to be more flexible and affordable. More of a tasting menu,”
Smith tells BiteClub.
In addition to the changes in the kitchen
(Pierre Lagourge, former owner of Chez Peyo remains on the team), Smith
also tell us he’s doing some serious work on the interior to
make it more cozy. And less like a warehouse. Aware of the
extensiveness of the former Marty’s Top ‘O the Hill space, the focus is
on making the dining room less formal and “warmer”.
The restaurant is scheduled to be closed for about five days at the end of this month but will reopen with the new menu and look in early August. Stay tuned.
French Garden Restaurant and Brasserie, 8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, 707- 824-2030

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