Ho ho ho, who wants to be in the kitchen on Christmas Day? Because after all that elf-ing, you deserve a break. But TV dinners are about as merry as a traffic jam and leftovers just won’t cut it when your mother-in-law’s involved. So, if you’re looking for a spot to indulge in some stress-free, kitchen-free dining, here are some best bets for Sonoma County restaurants that are open on Christmas Day.
Dec. 25, Coast Kitchen at Timber Cove: Three course dinner includes smoked seafood chowder; bourbon-braised pork chop, braised lamb shank with mint oil; peppermint crème brûlée. $65 per person, wine pairing an additional $35. Children 12 and under are $25. 21780 CA-1, Jenner, 707-847-3231.
Dec. 25, Sante Restaurant at the Sonoma Mission Inn: Christmas buffet with live entertainment. Dozens of gourmet items include Liberty duck pork terrine, jumbo shrimp cocktail, charcuterie, smoked fish, winter chicory salad, carving stations with goose and prime rib, Maine lobster risotto, porchetta, caramelized Brussels sprouts, Buche de Noel, gingerbread tosca, raspberry Linzer torte. Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, 100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma, 707- 939-2415.
Dec. 7 – Dec. 25, Madrona Manor’s Annual Dickens Dinners: In addition to a five-course feast from Chef Jesse Mallgren, strolling carolers in 19th century garb serenade diners throughout the evening. The menu includes Smoked Egg Sabayon with Estate Watercress, and Prosciutto Syrup and Potato; Beef Wellington with Mashed Potatoes and Red Wine Reduction; Osetra Caviar, Black Winter Truffles and Alba White Truffles; and “Candy Cane” Peppermint Creamsicle with Chocolate and Pomegranate. Prices range from $90 to $170 per person. For guests who chose to stay the night at the Manor, they will receive 25% off their overnight stay. Reservations required, 707-433-4231.
Dec. 25, Mateo’s Cucina Latina: Special holiday tasting menu includes steamed mussels with celeriac-fennel sauce, Dungeness crab, black cod with warm ponzu, goose leg with seaweed pasta, beef belly with horseradish, $78 per person, wine pairing an additional $48 prepared for the whole table only. A la carte items available as well. 11:30a.m. to 3p.m., 5-9:45p.m. Also open Christmas eve from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5-9:45 p.m. 214 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, 707-433-1520. (Photo by Jeremy Portje)
Dec. 25, Spoonbar at the h2hotel: From 4 – 7 p.m. on Christmas Day, relax and let Chef Matt D’Ambrosi prepare your four-course feast. For $89 per person, the menu features delicious holiday dishes including Black Truffle Risotto, Rosemary Roasted Lamb T-bone and Pumpkin Crème Brulee. Reservations can be made by calling 707-433-7222 or visiting spoonbar.com. 219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg.
Dec. 25, Flamingo Hotel: Christmas buffet includes wedge salad, Sonoma County cheese board, roasted Pacific salmon, chicken with grapes and shallots, creamed mashed potatoes, glazed kobucha squash, prime rib, honey mustard glazed ham, Black forest cake, bread pudding, a chocolate yule log and much more. $49 per person, $25 for kids 5-11. 2777 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa, 707-523-4745, flamingoresort.com.
Dec. 25, Union Hotel: Special Menu, call for details. 707-538-6000.
Where to get your Buche de Noel fix
One of the surest ways to know that the holiday season is upon us: Buche de Noel. These happy Christmas cakes are made in the shape of a log, complete with meringue mushrooms and plenty of chocolate. Why a log? The tradition stretches back to folks celebrating the winter solstice in pre-Christian times, when logs were burnt ceremoniously to welcome the new year. The cake version, we can assure you, taste a whole lot better. We’ve found three top-notch versions here in Sonoma County you’ll want on your table.
IMA Cake Couture is guaranteed to be patisserie-perfect in chestnut-black currant, chocolate caramel or hazelnut cakes. Santa Rosa-based Chef Isabelle Mazeaud has trained with Alain Ducasse in Paris, then at a patisserie in San Francisco and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. By special order only, imacakecouture.com.
We’re also impressed with the Bouche de Noels at Les Pascals in Kenwood, offering both traditional chocolate varieties along with a passion fruit and banana cake, chocolate mousse with praline, black forest and raspberry meringue cake. Pre-order by Dec. 22. 13798 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen, 707-934-8378, lespascalspatisserie.com.
In Sebastopol, Pascaline Patisserie and Cafe offers a traditional yule log made from lemon Swiss roll, lemon cream and Italian meringue or a Buche de Noel with chocolate chiffon, chocolate mousse, raspberry jam and more chocolate. Preorder, 707-823-3122, pascalinepatisserieandcafe.com.
Need a gluten-free version? Check out Sonoma County Cakes made at Zoftig Eatery in Santa Rosa. By reservation, zoftigeatery.com.
Finally, Honey and the Moon in Sonoma is doing what they call a “stump cake” with bittersweet chocolate frosting and meringue mushrooms. Order ahead, 707-996-5949, havethemoon.com.
More tasty treats…
Costeaux French Bakery in Healdsburg features breakfast with Santa on Dec. 22 from 9 to 11 a.m., plus a giant nutcracker collection! 417 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-1913, costeaux.com. (Photo by Kent Porter)
Tisza Bistro & Bar, Windsor: Chef Krisztian Karkus has created a gingerbread masterpiece using Costeaux French Bakery Cookies, candy, icing and a whole lot of imagination. Truly a showstopper. 8757 Old Redwood Highway, Windsor, 707-838-5100, tiszabistro.com.
Christmas Eve Dinner at Gravenstein Grill, Sebastopol: Lobster bisque with lemon creme fraiche, Dungeness crab salad, sesame crusted ahi tuna, filet mignon, cioppino, mushroom risotto. Vegan menu available. 5 to 10 p.m., $75 per person. 8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, 707-634-6142, gravensteingrill.com.
Also hosting a special Christmas Eve dinner is three-Michelin starred Single Thread, offering a bespoke menu for their guests, by reservation only. 131 North St, Healdsburg, 707-723-4646, singlethreadfarms.com.
Holiday Tea at Hotel Healdsburg: From December 1 -23, 2018 on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, guests are invited to enjoy house made pastries, petit sandwiches, custom blend teas, classic cocktails and additional holiday fare from Dry Creek Kitchen’s executive chef, Scott Romano. This beloved holiday tradition also features live piano music, stunning winter florals and beautiful holiday décor. Reservations required,707-431-2800.