Sky Lounge at the Santa Rosa Airport

Santa Rosa's airport restaurant isn't quite ready for takeoff

UPDATE 6/18/2008: With regard to some twittering
I’ve been hearing about Sky Lounge at the Sonoma County Airport, here’s
the scoop straight from owner Jim Goff. He tells BiteClub that Ed
Metcalfe (of Shisho in Sonoma) who had a hand in the opening has not
been part of the restaurant since early on. In addition, Goff says
there are no plans to change or modify the current restaurant citing
his 15-year long-term lease. So, there you have it.

After months of anticipation Sky Lounge has opened for business in the Sonoma County Airport.
The second area restaurant for Shiso’s Ed Metcalfe
(who runs a popular sushi-centric spot in Sonoma) the in-terminal
eatery is primed to nab both hungry travelers and nearby office park
workers starved for a decent lunch-break spot.
Jammed to capacity just a few hours after opening, Sky Lounge could easily become the next Jonesy’s–the Napa Airport’s popular steakhouse/meet-up spot. That’s the good news.
The bad news: At today’s liftoff the kitchen had yet to earn its wings.
Knowing Metcalfe’s passion for seafood, my instinct was to head straight for the shellfish. My instinct was wrong. Hold out for the sushi chef who arrives next week. Three of the six oysters I ordered off-menu were barely big enough to slip onto a fork and their $13 price tag wasn’t the only thing that left an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth.
I also made incorrect assumption that I’d be getting big, plump, local
Hog Island oysters, but got a bill for Fanny Bays (which usually hail
from the Pacific Northwest). Either way, disappointing.
The Soft Shell Crab BLT ($15) also sounded enticing with applewood smoked bacon, fried soft shell crab and wasabi mayonnaise on toasted brioche.
It too left me cold and searching between the slices of bread, lettuce
and tomato for the tiny bits of crab that ended up tasting bitter and
fishy. The flavors just didn’t meld and the burned bits of toast
clearly didn’t help.
Passing burgers looked solid, though they were as unimpressively plated as
my own sandwich (white plate, no garnish) and with equally bland stacks
of diner-worthy fries. I’ll accept that at $7. But not at $12 to $15,
especially from someone like Metcalfe who clearly knows better. One
bright spot was a beautiful dish of salmon (the day’s special) that
passed by on the way to a lucky guest who’d ordered better than I had.

I also didn’t try the large plates of rib-eye, filet mignon, hangar steak and porterhouse. Prime cuts will run you between $24 and $32 with
sides that include the aforementioned fries, mashed or roasted
potatoes; creamed spinach, Brussels sprouts or carrots. That’s a heavy
chunk of change for lunch and the sides seem deadly dull. I get the
retro-chic of a blue cheese lettuce wedge. Brussels sprouts lack that
clever irony.
But the news isn’t all bad. Even on the first day, wait staff were eager to please and well organized despite understandable opening snafus. I’m
hopeful that the arrival of a sushi chef and the daily influx of more
fresh seafood (there’s little on the opening menu) will bolster oceanic
and presentation will improve as the kitchen gets more comfortable with the menu.
the end, I’d recommend giving Sky Lounge a little more time for some
pre-flight checks. If you go, stick with the basics and enjoy the
view–never mind a little engine spluttering.

Sky Lounge, Sonoma County Airport, 2200 airport blvd, suite 143, Santa Rosa, 707-542-9400