We all have our favorite fireplace-lit places to dine during the chilly, rainy winter months. Among the top spots are Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, Agriculture Public House in Guerneville and, in Santa Rosa, Stark’s Steak & Seafood or Monti’s Rotisserie & Bar.
But here are five more cozy gems to try for a crackling, ember-enhanced meal. Don’t forget lounges, too, like the popular Front Room Bar and Lounge at Santa Rosa’s John Ash & Company. These smaller, casual spaces can make it feel like your own private party.
ZINA – Sonoma
It’s an unusual set-up, but all the more fun for being so different. Technically, Zina could be called a wine and food pairing, since you sit with an intimate group at a communal table in what is the Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery tasting room in the lobby of the Ledson Hotel, on the Sonoma Plaza. A wine educator presents each wine and shares the story of each Zina and Ledson bottling.
The setting is fine-dining posh, trimmed in gleaming wood with a flickering fireplace flanked by leather couches. For winter, the line-up includes temptations like prosciutto wrapped Hama Hama oysters Rockefeller baked with Bucheret goat cheese, Peruvian purple potato leek soup with Point Reyes blue cheese chicken fritter, and seared ahi over mushroom rice with butter poached turnips, strawberry-olive tapenade, and pickled ume plum sauce.
480 First St. East, Sonoma, 996-9779, visit Facebook.
CAFE CITTI ITALIAN TRATTORIA – Kenwood
Charm lives and breathes at this longtime locals’ hangout anchored by a fireplace to warm your chilly bones. Think super-casual, with a deli counter hung with menu boards, but the Italian owner keeps recipes as delicious and true as a much fancier restaurant.
Lunch brings overstuffed sandwiches on housemade focaccia served with sides like cheese tortellini pasta salad, a bowl of steaming hot raviolini in Brodo, and Tuscan style pizza capped with homemade mozzarella.
Bigger meals into the evening feature housemade ravioli stuffed with pork, Swiss chard and fresh herbs in silky tomato basil cream sauce, or crisp-skin rotisserie chicken fragrant with garlic, rosemary and sage.
9049 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 833-2690, cafecitti.com.
1313 MAIN RESTAURANT – Napa
A sleek, contemporary fireplace beckons from the lounge, welcoming guests to relax on the sprawling couches beneath a collection of wine bottles that hint of the restaurant’s 1,300-plus international selections, curated by sommelier Bryan McCall and director Jordan Nova.
This isn’t the formal dining room area, but you can tuck into savories like a black truffle poached egg decorated with potato mousseline and pickled red onion on toasted brioche, or a lobe of seared foie gras with caramelized red onion tart, elderberry glaze, turnip puree and shiso. The “secret menu” burger is a beauty topped in Gruyere, sherry caramelized onions, truffled aioli and optional seared foie gras alongside beef-fat fries.
Be sure to splurge on some sips from the spirit cart when it rolls in with more than three dozen rare liquors.
1313 Main St., Napa, 258-1313, 1313main.com.
EL DORADO KITCHEN – Sonoma
Escape the hustle and bustle of the busy dining room, and grab a seat in the farm-chic lounge. You’ll be warmed by the fireplace and cutely named cocktails such as the Coda Pendant of rye, apple schnapps, sugar, lemon and Angostura bitters.
Add a few upscale bar bites like tuna tartare tacos, Wagyu carpaccio decorated in truffle aioli and pea shoots, or steamed mussels simmered in white wine with chickpeas and fines herbes. Definitely get the French fries. The hot, skinny crispy delights will chase any winter blues away.
405 First St. West, Sonoma, 996-3030, eldoradosonoma.com.
DRAKE’S FIRESIDE LOUNGE – Bodega Bay
Adjacent to the Drakes Sonoma Coast Kitchen at the Bodega Bay Lodge, this pretty retreat woos with a large stone fireplace framed by gorgeous views of Bodega Head, Doran Beach and the Pacific Ocean.
You can order a selection of dishes from the full Drakes Sonoma Coast Kitchen menu, but lighter appetites will be happy with the New England style “fog” chowder oysters or the lounge’s own grilled flatbreads smothered in Petaluma’s Marin French brie, mushrooms and applewood house-smoked salmon.
Life is nice when you’re bundled in your favorite sweater, supping on a juicy cheeseburger and sipping a Sea Dog of Sobieski vodka, fresh grapefruit juice and St. Germain liqueur rimmed with kosher salt, cayenne and coriander.
103 Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 875-3525, drakesbodegabay.com
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