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New Occidental eatery, Hazel Restaurant, Opens July 16

New Occidental restaurant, Hazel, will open with former Berkeley chefs in the kitchen. Braised short rips, wood-oven branzino and curried scallops on the menu.

Curried scallops at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography
Curried scallops at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography

Hazel Restaurant is on the horizon.

Branzino at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography
Branzino at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography

The countdown is on for Hazel, the new Occidental Restaurant from Berkeley chefs Jim and Michele Wimborough.

Slated for a Thursday, July 16, 2015 opening, the former Bistro de Copains has been undergoing some serious interior updates, and both chefs have been teasing fans on their Facebook page with pix of roasted branzino, curried scallops with Santa Rosa plums, cupcakes, and braised short ribs with polenta.

Short ribs at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography
Short ribs at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography

The “rustic California-Mediterranean” menu is centered around the restaurant’s two wood-fired ovens, and Jim is a live-fire pro from his years at top-ranked restaurants including Boulevard, Kokkari, and Evvia. Because working with temperamental coals isn’t for just anyone. Michele will head up the desserts, including a weekly seasonal Friday Pie Day, sundaes, cookies and cakes. The inside scoop: Blueberry pie is up first.

Curried scallops at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography
Curried scallops at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography

Hazel (named after Jim’s great grandmother who inspired him to become a chef) will be doing dinner only its first week and then lunch and dinner seven days thereafter, as well as weekend brunch.

Santa Rosa Plum Crisp at Hazel Restaurant
Santa Rosa Plum Crisp at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography

More details at facebook.com/Restauranthazel, or restauranthazel.com 3782 Bohemian Hwy., Occidental.

Interior at Hazel Restaurant at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography
Interior at Hazel Restaurant at Hazel Restaurant. Photos by Sherry Heck Photography

The requisite farm-to-table shout out: “Hazel is committed to using local sustainable produce from farmers such as New Family Farm Sonoma Swamp Blues Farm, Ford Cheese and Olivian Olive Oil, meats and seafood. Wines from West Sonoma county producers, among them Radio-Couteau, Paul Matthews and Atascadero Creek will anchor the list and locally made beers will be prominent as well,” says the press release.

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16 thoughts on “New Occidental eatery, Hazel Restaurant, Opens July 16

  1. We’ve eaten at Zut, where the new owners were working before, many times and were delighted. This is excellent food with excellent ingredients. These folks are community-minded, creative, and know food and service very well. We’ll be driving up from the East Bay often to support Hazel.

  2. We ate at Hazel’s opening night. A bit chaotic, not unexpected, but the food was superb . and the waiter was first rate as well. A great place by any standard. Better book ahead or you won’t get in.

  3. Bistro will be tough to replace but this looks like a worthy candidate. Occidental deserves a destination restaurant. While making it attractive to locals is always the goal you also don’t want them to compromise the concept so yes, prices might not work for everyone–that’s life.

  4. I think its great to have another new restaurant in Occidental. High end perhaps to start. But, catering to tourists is one thing, making prices reasonable for locals is another. It should be priced someplace in between. And, during the winter months if they do remain open, the majority of customers will be locals-hence the prices should come down if they want to remain in business. Hope they succeed!

  5. Foods looks good, but those little square plates are too precious by half. Can’t they find a plate big enough to hold a small fish?

    1. We’re so engrained in portion size (bigger is better), that we forget about reality. Some chefs actually serve small plates because they serve the portions we SHOULD be eating instead of stuffing us full of food so our bellies expand (and in my case, my blood glucose level shoots past the moon and lands somewhere in the outer solar system).

  6. I am very happy to see that a talented couple are taking over our space in Occidental. We wish them all best success. I hope they realize how dependent they are going to be on the wonderful people of West County. I hope they get the traffic to sustain them for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. I hope even more that their business plan works if they only have enough traffic to justify staying open for lunch/brunch on weekends and 5 or six nights a week. Come January and February and we are experiencing the El Niño they are predicting, they will find out that residents and visitors lodged in Healdsburg and Santa Rosa won’t drive the dark, wet and winding roads out to Occidental. They will find out that people who live in Sebastopol think Occidental is a long drive especially during the winter when the sun sets early. I would do everything I can to embrace the people and businesses along the Bohemian highway and out in Bodega. There success depends on them.

  7. Being high end means never having to list prices, Brad. Chances are good that you can’t afford it, B. Stick to Guerneville.

  8. Yay!!! So excited for this place and for Jim and Michele’s new Country life! I will defiantly be making this a destination this coming September when planning my tour of California for my first time in US, Argentinian friend!!!

  9. Glad to read about a high-end restaurant in Occidental. The summer may, may, provide enough foot traffic for lunches. Not possible in the winter. Wish them the best but first list the prices.

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