SHIMO, 241 Healdsburg Avenue at Matheson, 707.433.6000, dinner only
Not even weeks after I dined there, Shimo changed from its high-priced steakhouse menu to a noodle house. For the sake of (recent) history, here’s my recap and photos of my steak experience. Though I think the casual space is better suited to a noodle house, there are dishes I’d love to see stay on the menu (can we please keep those biscuits?)
Shimo refers to the term “shimo furi”, meaning frost, which is what they call the snow-like white marbling in a fine cut of beef. This Japanese temple to beef is surprisingly casual, even noisy, for a restaurant so expensive. But in the hands of Douglas Keane, chef of one of the country’s highest-rated restaurants (and a favorite of mine), Cyrus, the food is worthwhile.
Maybe the most divine thing on the menu? Cheddar Parmesan Biscuits ($6) come in a mini-cast iron skillet with six flaky pillows of biscuit goodness. Purely addictive. “Shrimp Cocktail” ($13) gets a refreshing twist as plump shrimp over horseradish pudding and greens, drizzled with tomato syrup.
Beef Tataki Tartare ($18) is silky mixed with egg yolk and soy garlic yuzu sauce. Yuzu imbues the rare meat with tart, Summery spirit. Okonomiyaki ($9) is an exemplary version of one of my favorite Japanese dishes made with mountain yams..
Creamed coconut kale ($9) is a winning side and a different presentation for kale. I’d take this over creamed spinach any day. Wild mushrooms ($10) are savory and butter laden, made up of three ‘shrooms: shiitake, crimini, maitake.
And what about the steak? It’s astronomically priced, even for steak, but thankfully it’s expertly executed. I splurged on the $20 per ounce Australian Wagyu Strip Loin, trying it in both presentations: chori and raw as sashimi. It’s marbled, glory, to be sure, but I also had the second “cheapest” steak: Bone-in Filet ($56 – $28 per person but you’re required to order it for two minimum). It’s 24 oz (or 12 oz per person) and at medium rare is also impeccable and a much better value than the wagyu.
MEDLOCK AMES TASTING ROOM, 3487 Alexander Valley Road at Sausal, 707.431.8845
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One of the best places for cocktails in Sonoma County is Medlock Ames Alexander Valley Bar. Though a winery, arrive after 5pm daily walking around to the backside of the wine tasting room.
Youll find a casually retro bar, touches of Prohibition and the Old West mingling with vintage photo booth and a bar lined with herbs and citrus.
Cocktails (all $9) like Verdant Virtue/Vice exemplify the garden-fresh mix from Medlocks own backyard: Hendricks Gin and Green Chartreuse are amplified with mint, basil, rosemary, cucumber, lime for a refreshing beauty.
A Nocino Manhattan plays heavier and muskier with Buck Bourbon, Carpano Antica and the nuttiness of Nocino walnut liqueur. It’s a little too musky but offers a nice, boozy Wine Country imbibment.
Pascual is finer in theory… the balance seems slightly off (sour, watery), but it’s a spritzy, spicy cocktail representing their garden bounty. Arette blanco (a fine choice and one of my Tequila, Mexico distillery visits) is dotted with serrano peppers, cilantro, fresh lemon, lime and agave nectar. Better balance and it would be lovely.
Even if cocktails aren’t all executed with balance, this is an exciting stop with charming setting, Old World rusticity, and cocktails that feel local as they do classic.