Rumors of Wishbone Restaurant closing in Petaluma are false. Owners Miriam Donaldson and Josh Norwitt are, however, ready to turn over the keys to a new owner.
After seven years in the petite Petaluma Boulevard space, Donaldson says she’s simply ready to sell the restaurant to someone who understands the kind of place she and partner Josh Norwich have worked hard to create. And that won’t be easy.
The couple put the restaurant up for sale in early November, quietly, to find someone who would jive with their local-first, culinary clubhouse mindset. From raising their own beef to foraging for vegetables and purchasing hen of the woods mushrooms from a guy with a suitcase full of the East Coast fungus (they were delicious), Donaldson has a passion for doing things with a certain flair and an intense dedication to her own set of values.
“We went public with our sale because we wanted to find the right buyer. Someone who will recognize it for what it is, an important clubhouse that supports its local food infrastructure,” Donaldson said.
This isn’t a fire sale, and they’re in no particular hurry to offload the distinctive restaurant that’s become a popular destination for out-of-towners and locals alike. On any given night at Wishbone, you may be seated next to a hipster couple from San Francisco, sweat-shirted parents with a squirmy toddler or your next-door neighbor. Like the ever-changing menu, it’s an ever-changing lineup of diners for their daily brunches and dinners, and there’s always a packed house.
“We are in a great place right now. We are booked and busy, happy in our place and doing well,” said Donaldson, who is usually behind the stove singing or dancing or both.
“It’s a great time to find the new captains of this boat, but Josh and I are picky and it will probably take time. Until we introduce Petaluma to the new owners, we’ll be cooking our asses off, so settle in for the long haul,” she said.
On a recent evening, we dropped in for dinner. Even at 5:30 p.m., a bar seat facing a wall of thrift shop needlepoint art and refurbished lamps was about the only seat available.
Stiff cocktails are a thing at Wishbone, and it’s worth settling in to take part in the happy hour pickle plate, sour fries and smoked oysters on toast.
For dinner, cornmeal polenta is imbued with all butter, ricotta cheese and cream, topped with the aforementioned suitcase mushrooms. They have an earthy umami that’s hard to match get anywhere else. Soft cooked onions and fat lardons with a hint of lemony kale make the dish homey, but thoughtful.
There’s always something sweet for dessert, but pie is the thing that’s closest to Miriam’s heart. Oh, the pie.
Wishbone does brunch six days a week, not just on a measly Sunday, so if you’ve just gotta stuff your face with scratch Hollandaise sauce on your benny, the Hot Mess of pickles, polenta and whatever other little nibblies are around or the famous Wish Burger with their own Scottish Highland beef, you’re still in luck.
Make you want to own your own restaurant? If you’re deeply passionate about learning how to preserve anything, wasting nothing, finding beauty in everything and cooking with a mixture of love and philosophy, Miriam and Josh have a restaurant you might be interested in buying. If you pass muster, that is.
Wishbone is open Wednesday through Monday for brunch from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner Thursday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Happy hour is 5 to 6 p.m. 841 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, wishbonepetaluma.com.