Friday, October 8, 2010

Sunflower Caffé: Just another day in the Sonoma neighborhood

We stumble upon it by accident – the way that people did before the days of Yelp, Twitter and food blogs.

I had called the Girl and the Fig in Sonoma to see if they had room for my family and me for breakfast on Saturday morning before we headed off to our first winery for the day. Food was imperative before we started into the booze, and I was flummoxed upon hearing that the Girl and Fig didn’t actually start serving their weekend brunch until 11:30 am.

“Oh no!” I’d fretted out loud, unable to conceal the disappointment that I wouldn’t get to be the girl with the fig that day.

Sunflower Caffé across the street serves breakfast,” The hostess had responded with more good cheer than was necessary for that early in the morning. She then graciously provided specific directions for how my starving crew and I would get there from our current location.

I fall in love with the bustling neighborhood cafe with counter service as soon as I lay eyes on it from across the crowded street. It’s the type of place where the door is always open because people are always coming and going – for a strong cup of Equator Estate coffee or a Belgium waffle in the morning, for a smoked duck breast sandwich at mid-day, or for a glass of wine and plate of honey-drizzled Serrano ham crostini when the wine bar opens in the evening.

It’s a local’s spot – an “in-the-know” locale that Sonoma residents appear to love for the very reason that my family is there today. It’s convenient.

And the freshly prepared food and charming setting make it even more worth their -- and today, our while.

The French-style omelets appear to be the biggest draw at breakfast. A tour around the tables lining both the inside of the open-air cafe and the garden patio out back reveals an impressive display of the crepe-like eggs that are judiciously stuffed with the restaurant’s ambitious fillings. There’s house-roasted turkey with shallot mousse, bay shrimp with roasted pepper and avocado, and Cagiano brand sweet Italian pork sausage with fontina for the sausage-inclined.

While the thick Belgium waffles with pure Vermont maple syrup beckon me to stray from the savory stand-by, I can’t resist the Herbed Goat Cheese & Spinach vegetarian omelet with tomatoes ($11). It comes with perfectly roasted potatoes and my choice of toast (wheat), and is a solid way to get my stomach ready for the impending wine.

The omelet is everything I would want it to be – and everything I always fail to achieve when attempting one at home. Despite the size and generous application of the fragrant herbed goat cheese that oozes from the center like the cream filling of a Twinkie, the omelet is delicate and deceptively light. The eggs seem to be prepared with a minimal amount of butter or oil, allowing the ingredients themselves to stand in the spotlight. I love how fresh and clean it tastes, and am equally delighted by the potatoes that are crisp, yet devoid of the grease that typically accompanies breakfast potatoes. The toast is the only unremarkable component of the plate. It has cooled considerably during its journey from the kitchen to our table on the patio, and falls flat and lifeless in my mouth when I take a bite.

Toast aside, Sunflower Caffé is a place I would happily welcome in my little neck of the woods down in West Hollywood. It doesn’t just break the fast – it breaks new light into the day. My family and I emerge feeling refreshed, revived and, most importantly, primed for wine.

Sunflower Caffé Espresso and Wine Bar
421 1st St West
Sonoma, CA 95476-6608

(707) 996-6645


stuffycheaks said...

ooh honey drizzled serrano ham crostini! Defintiely need to make that sometime. Hmm maybe I'll try to squeeze in Girl and the Fig when I'm up there in 2 wks

Monet said...

So this needs to be your job...reviewing restaurants. You did such an excellent job, and I was completely transported to this cafe! I loved hearing about your breakfast plate...I too like omelets that aren't overwhelmed by butter. I'm sorry you weren't able to go to your original choice (which has the best name ever!) but it sounds like you found another winner! Thank you for sharing sweet girl!

Anna A. said...

TALF! Your writing is just getting better and better. I say we have our own lil wine tasting tour sometime. I don't think I'll make it to Foodbuzz fest this year - too much school work! Will have to wait till December (i.e the big 3-0) before I do anything fun.

Gastronomer said...

Your omelet looks like the ones I used to order at the Swarthmore College grill. Paper-thin eggy envelopes are where its at!

Esi said...

What a great way to prep for a day of boozing. I'm *shocked* that the girl and the fig doesn't open for BRUNCH until 11:30. Seems a bit late, no?

Diana said...

Stephanie - I've heard really really wonderful things about the Girl and the Fig. My friend swears by their fig ice cream! Their brunch is supposed to be fantastic too. I heart Sonoma!

Monet - Hah, you want to find me that job? ;)

Anna - I would love that! Wine county wouldn't know what hit 'em!

Cathy - "Paper-thin eggy emvelopes" -- I love that! Wish I would have come up with that myself!

Esi - I know, right? Don't they realize that people have wineries to go visit???

Ashley said...

the clarke's egg envelopes weren't paper thin, but they got you into eggs - and that's all that really matters.