Petite Syrah | Santa Rosa

Former Syrah Bistro transforms into a small plates eatery

Gnocchi with peas and carrot foam
Gnocchi with peas and carrot foam

BiteClub got an exclusive sneak preview of a few dishes that will likely make the final cut as Petite Syrah begins shaking its chrysalis in preparation for it’s rebirth.

And while I’m going to save my big thoughts about the evolution and reinvention of Santa Rosa’s Syrah until the final menu emerges and the kitchen crew (Josh Silvers, Chef/owner; Jamil Peden, Chef de Cuisine; Seth Harvey, Exec Sous Chef) settle in, here’s the initial vibe…

Rather than simply scaled down versions of Josh’s upscale bistro fare, or being an imitation of pal Mark Stark & co’s wine bar small plates, Silvers, Peden and Harvey are working on more composed, chef-driven, seasonal cuisine menu at everyday price-points ($5 – $18). Silvers describes it as an evolution of his tasting menu to better reflect how people really eat — smaller portions and a variety of flavors.

Final dishes and prices are still in flux, but Young Escarole salad with Roaring 40s blue cheese and hazelnuts (around $8), Roasted and Shaved asparagus with sunflower sprouts and breadcrumbs (around $9), Crispy Quail with preserved grapefruit and “quail spice, (around $13) or Potato Gnocchi with fresh peas, carrots and carrot foam (around $11) seem almost ready for prime time.  Other plates under consideration are chilled oysters, crostini, pork belly with lentils, steak tartare with truffle aioli, panna cotta with strawberry and roasted squid, among others.

So why the change? “People would say, “Oh Syrah is so perfect,” to me all the time,” said Silvers. But when asked when they’d been in last, often the answer was for a particular celebration or special event months before. “I don’t want to be just a celebration restaurant,” he said of his 12-year-old Railroad Square bistro. The success of his more casual dining venture, Jackson’s Bar & Oven, also helped drive the inspiration for a renewed take on Syrah.

In addition to the menu change, the restaurant will also undergo a number of decor changes. Stay tuned….

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33 thoughts on “Petite Syrah | Santa Rosa

  1. We were in Silvers’ other venue, JACKSON’S recently and brought in a bottle of boutique wine. We poured a half glass for our server to enjoy in the back kitchen. After dinner we ordered a second bottle of wine off the menu, as we were expecting friends to join us. When we got the bill, we were charged a $20 corkage fee! Almost every restaurant with a wine list, has a “buy a second bottle off our wine list, and corkage fee is waived”. Not there. Tacky and bad business in my opinion. We will not be back. (the food has been really disappointing (mussells the size of kidney beans) 3 visits in a row, to reinforce our decision to cross it off our list).

    1. Corkage is always a difficult issue for restaurants, we are in the hospitality business, let’s look at the first word- hospitality: friendly, welcoming, and generous treatment offered to guests or strangers, as such we want all of our guests to feel welcome & have a good time. And now the second word, Business: commercial activity involving the exchange of money for goods or services, & as such we need to sell our food & wine in order to stay in business, to provide for our employees, to pay our venders, insurance, taxes, gas , eclectic & wood, ect., ect.
      The corkage @ Jackson’s is $15.00 per bottle, this is a restaurant policy- the server must add this to help offset the cost of you bringing in your wine(even if you are generous enough to share). we think this is a reasonable amount, after all, each table & chair is a source of revenue. We make every effort to try to keep the prices down on the food, wine & liquor, we source local, organic ( when possible) & of the highest quality (always)that we can.
      the margins restaurant operate on are very slim, & with the rising fuel & food prices it’s not an easy task.
      The management & staff want to continue to have a fun restaurant that has great food & service for all our friends, & so we Must do it with an abundance of hospitality & an eye on the business as well
      Thank You
      josh silvers – chef owner ~Jacksons bar & oven, petite syrah

      1. With this economy everyone is trying to budget. Restaurants want diners to come out and diners want the most for their slim budget. How encouraging to offer free corkage. Many customers are having that first glass of wine at home and then ordering water with diner in the restaurant. Offering free corkage will stimulate a lot of business. Which is it? The restaurant is half full, the restaurant is half empty. Syrahs food is outstanding.

    2. Tacky business at Jackson’s you say? What’s tacky is publicly advertising generosity with your wine and then turning around to use that same UNINVITED gesture as a means to slam someone. If you want to dictate rules and standards then go start your own restaurant…oh wait, you can’t…you don’t know how…

  2. I want to address the particular foam here. A lot of culinary trends come and go, and I suppose foam is one of them. It is on a gnocchi dish that features carrots. A carrot puree, poached carrots and the foam all offer differing flavors and textures. I wanted the flavor of a raw carrot juice and the foam is the ideal vehicle for the juice. Its visually appealing to me and many others so there you have it. The one foam is an integrated part of the dish, not just a mouthful of air. Haters will always hate on something. Incidentally I am the chef de cuisine at syrah/petite syrah and look forward to the new project. It will be good for santa rosa. I’m referring to it as “urban wine country dining”

    1. Thanks Jamil. Don’t you love getting a million opinions from the peanut gallery. Keep in mind that if we could all be professional chefs, we wouldn’t be spending all day bitching online.

    2. “Haters will always hate on something” True that.

      And the internet has become the perfect vehicle for their hatred. What did they all do before, drown puppies and kittens?

      1. Johng; that last phrase was disgusting and could have been left out, and your message would have still been received. We really don’t to give that kind of comment/visual any energy or attention. Got that?

        1. Yes, ma’am, got that, Terese! And congrats on your promotion to Boss Of Me and Deputee Chief of the Comment Police!

    3. Thanks for your post Jamil. I hope you don’t confuse honest, healthy criticism of your dish with malicious “hating”. I truly appreciate the creativity and inventiveness that quality chefs like you put into their cuisine and I believe that one of the most enjoyable aspects of dining is challenging one’s senses with unique presentation styles. That said, and with the caveat that I have not tasted the dish, I think it’s fair for me to say that the orange-colored foam was personally off-putting, visually, and that I think foam, as a concept, is a tired contrivance. Again, thanks for your comment, I encourage you not to assume that the foodies that read this blog are being spiteful with their criticism. I look forward to dining with you soon!

  3. Syrah was quite possibly the best restaurant in Santa Rosa, and possibly one of the best in America. It feels that one of two things are happening here: either the Syrah team is chasing the small plate fad and falling into the notion that being overtly esoteric equals better, or, and this would be even more aggravating, that they are catering more to the wine-centric diner as opposed to the food-centric diner; those ever so annoying types that order a glass of wine first and eat whatever pairs best with their glass instead of the other way around. There is nothing wrong with being a special occasion restaurant, especially if you are the absolute best. I have a feeling that this will be a retread of the Bousquet family and Mirepoix, hopefully in a couple of years they’ll drop the petite and go back to what works like gangbusters.

  4. I hate foam in my food. I will drink foam in my coffee though. Syrah, not impressed with their food. Sorry.

  5. Isn’t foam way passé at this point? And is it food? Yes, I get bored with the same meats, cheeses, veggies, ways of cooking things etc. but really! How about grilling on a dung fire – we haven’t tried that yet! Just kidding!

  6. Don, You are projecting your own negative pessimism. Turn your frown upside down and do something good for someone today.

  7. Please, Josh. Kill the foam. Makes me think of when you put salt on a live snail.
    The first time I had a bite (I guess “mouthful” is a better word) of foam, I thought it was kind of fun and interesting to just taste the essence of something and then have it disappear. But it’s really just too too theoretical and ephemeral for me. It doesn’t satisfy me. And ultimately, I want to feel comforted and satisfied when I eat something, not just titillated and teased.
    Foam has been been sooooo done. You’re better than that.
    Other than that, I wish you all success!

  8. While I[m not a big foam lover, Syrah has been THE go-to great restaurant in Santa Rosa for me and my friends/colleagues for well over 10 years. Josh and his team produce world-class dishes on a regular basis with mad skills and ridiculous consistency. I trust them for fresh, local, and inventive cuisine of all sorts — seafood, meats, vegetable dishes, wine, appetizers, and desserts.

    We’ll be there the first week….and on and on.

    Can’t f***ing wait!

  9. That sounds pretty good. I’m all for high quality food in small portions. I’ve found that my wife and I almost always split a dish when we go out now because of the insanely huge portions. That gets boring though because we both want to try different things. The small tasting menu route also lets those of us without tons of expendable income try great cuisine more often.

    Also, I wish I was more adventurous because I gagged a little when I saw “carrot foam” even though the rest looked delicious. I’m sure it’s fine but I had hoped the foam craze died out.

    1. I told Josh I thought the foam thing was a little played, too. — but it seems to be showing up again. I just had bacon foam over at Rendez Vous (though they took it off the menu).

      Know what I’m seeing EVERYWHERE? Those little trails of mixed seasonings on the plate. Seen it three times in the last week.

    1. What a smart whip you are Jerry. Thanks for that amazing insight.

      I’ll circle back in case you weren’t paying attention. Stark’s has pretty much defined the small plates scene around Santa Rosa and everyone knows that Josh and Mark are good friends. When he announced Petite Syrah would be doing “small plates” most insiders kind of wondered if it would mimic what the Stark’s have been doing at Willi’s, et al. I’m letting them know, that no…it’s kind of different.

    1. yes don. You’re right. After 12 years and one of the most successful openings in Santa Rosa restaurant history (jackson’s), Josh is certainly on his last legs.

      did people take stupid pills today?

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