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As New Windsor Restaurant Prepares to Open, Healdsburg’s Brass Rabbit Closes

Former Starks chef, Eric Foster, will be opening a modern Italian eatery in Windsor this fall.

Here’s a big old smorgasbord of tasty news!

Opening: Grata 

Former Starks chef, Eric Foster, will be opening a modern Italian eatery in Windsor this fall with his wife, Christina. The couple says they’ll be doing appetizers, salads, pasta and some larger plates, along with “adult” low-ABV Italian sodas in the former Chinois space near the Town Green. Christina says it will be a fun place for families, dates, and “gal pals” to hang out.

Opening: Little Saint

After more than two years of sitting empty, the 10,000-square foot SHED location in Healdsburg may finally have a buyer.

The nonprofit Little Saint is slated to open later this fall in the hulking “modern grange” once owned by Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel, according to a press release sent by San Francisco’s Saint Joseph’s Arts Society, an uber-chic arts incubator imagined by designer Ken Fulk.

Though the owners have not been named, Little Saint is launching as a nonprofit arm of the Saint Joseph’s Art Foundation. Little Saint will be open to the public daily for all-day dining, retail and ticketed events. Acknowledging the vision of Lipton and Daniel, the new project will foster at least some of the ideals of its former owners by creating a space to talk about sustainability and support the local community. Plus some really cool art and music.

“Little Saint will continue the legacy of SHED by offering delicious food, unique retail and intriguing programming with an added focus on music and art,” according to the press release.

Closed: Brass Rabbit

We’re super sad to hear that this cozy little bistro on the Healdsburg Plaza is another casualty of the pandemic, along with its entire staff. The sister restaurant to Chalkboard at Hotel Les Mars (a Bill Foley-owned project) closed temporarily in March, reopened briefly in May, then closed again, with much of the staff moving over to Chalkboard as a stop-gap through the summer. Insiders say the staff was let go on August 4 and the restaurant is now permanently shuttered. Brass Rabbit, which opened in 2017, was a special project for its former chef Shane McAnnelly, who featured fresh pasta and other signature dishes, but the small size and lack of any real patio seating seem to have been its death knell. McAnnelly is now at Bricoleur Vineyards. Before becoming Brass Rabbit, the space hosted longtime Healdsburg favorite Bistro Ralph.

Loving: Region + FernBar

There’s a reason that Sebastopol’s Barlow has been one of the biggest scenes to be seen lately — and I’m calling it choose-your-own-adventure dining. Taprooms and tasting rooms are pairing up with nearby eateries to offer al fresco dining wherever you choose. So, say you’re up for sushi with your Seismic? Yup. Golden State Cider with a slice? Yes, please. But what I’m feeling extra excited about is Fernbar’s pairing with Region, a new wine tasting room with — breathe — self-serve machines that feature 50 unique wines from 14 appellations. Choose from $1 to $4 single ounce “tastes” to larger pours or full bottles. It’s like a classy vending machine for top-shelf wines. Sit at their outdoor patio and have Fernbar’s Chicken Liver Mousse, Smash burger, fried chicken sando or my fave — the umami bomb with veggies, sticky rice and roasted mushrooms.

Do Good: Food for Thought

Food For Thought, a local non-profit that provides healing food and nutrition to Sonoma County residents with serious illnesses, is holding a drive-thru food drive at Santa Rosa Plaza on Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the corner of 2nd and B St. Canned tuna, olive oil and hearty soups are especially needed. And here’s my special request to you: Please don’t just clean out your cupboard and offload expired food. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy and ultimately goes into the garbage. Think about what you’d appreciate eating, and donate that. Or consider donating money to FFTfoodbank.org.

Editor’s Note: Travel, dining and wine tasting can be complicated right now. Use our inspirational ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, be it this week or next year. If you visit restaurants, wineries, and other businesses during the pandemic, remember to call ahead, make reservations, wear a mask and social distance.

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