Over the past few years Jack and I have rung in the New Year just the two of us in one of our favorite nearby towns. We’ve reached the age where many of our friends are home with little ones or doing family trips to Tahoe, so we’re generally not missing any parties by leaving the city. Plus, the holidays are always so hectic and busy that it’s really nice to quietly mark the New Year as part of a romantic getaway.
This year we chose to visit Sonoma for two nights over New Year’s weekend. We compared hotels in Sonoma, Healdsburg, and Carmel, and the prices in Sonoma were significantly more affordable. In addition, we hadn’t stayed there in several years and there were a couple of new restaurants and wine tasting rooms that we were eager to try.
El Dorado Kitchen is our go-to spot on Sonoma Plaza. The food has been consistently good every time we’ve eaten there, and their mussels and french fries are some the best. We’ve always found it to be superior to its overhyped neighbor, The Girl & the Fig, which has let us down on multiple occasions. But EDK has always served us a solid meal.
We typically don’t spend as much time in the town of Sonoma as other parts of the county, but we try to stop by a couple times a year to pick up wine at Sonoma Wine Shop. SWS is right on the square, and sources wine from “ultra-small wineries in California, direct from the winery owner, winemaker, or vineyard owner.” We’ve been wine club members there for many years, and we continue to enjoy the variety of small production local wines at decent prices. The shop itself is a little hodge-podge, with fickle service, and staff that seems to turn over quickly. But despite these flaws, we continue to enjoy their wines!
We stopped by SWS this past New Year’s Eve for a quick tasting and to pick up a case of wine. Afterward, we enjoyed a tasty brunch at El Dorado Kitchen, which is located inside the El Dorado Hotel, right on the square. It is a large restaurant, great for a large group, and they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Jack and I rang in the New Year here many years ago, and it was a mellow yet classy way to end the year.
On this visit, we started with the Steamed Mussels with white wine, créme fraîche, chickpeas, fines herbes (parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil – often used in French cuisine), and country croutons, as well as the Truffle Fries with Parmesan and chives (a must-order every time we visit). The mussels were plump and steaming hot, and the truffle fries may be some of the most perfect french fries I’ve had.