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CHAPTER 1

.

THE BEST OF THE WINE COUNTRY

get a reservation, you have no choice but to dine here and find out for yourself why chef/owner Thomas Keller’s restaurant continues to be hailed as the best restaurant in the world. Din- ner at this intimate restaurant is an all-night affair complete with truffle shavings, dramatic presentations, and swirling and sniffing. When it’s finally over, you won’t believe how many dif- ferent delicacies found their way out of the kitchen and into your heart. See p. 104.

  • Terra (St. Helena, Napa Valley; & 707/963-8931): As far as formal, intimate fine dining goes, Terra is my number-one choice. Within a historic fieldstone restaurant, James Beard Award–winning chef Hiro Sone creates incredibly sophisti- cated, vibrant, and refined cuisine that deftly shows his French, Italian, and Japanese culinary training as well as his apprecia- tion for the best of local seasonal ingredients. Sone’s wife— pastry chef and front-of-the-house gal Lissa Doumani—ensures each eve is delicious, from the polished service to the to-die-for desserts. See p. 109.

  • ZuZu (Napa, Napa Valley; & 707/224-8555): If you’ve had it with French and Italian fare and Wine Country–themed dining rooms, race directly to this neighborhood haunt. Shockingly affordable and serving a worldly array of Mediterranean- inspired “small plates,” it’s a snack-lover’s nirvana. I’m addicted to the single-serving paella, yummy and intriguing by-the-glass wines, and friendly attitude here. See p. 104.

  • Cafe La Haye (Sonoma, Sonoma Valley; & 707/935-5994): This small, sophisticated Sonoma cafe is a must-stop on your Wine Country dining binge. You’ll enjoy the simple yet savory dishes emanating from the tiny open kitchen as well as a friendly waitstaff, attractive art, and absurdly reasonable prices. See p. 148.

  • El Dorado Kitchen (Sonoma, Sonoma Valley; & 707/996-

    • 3030)

      : This much welcome addition to downtown Sonoma ups the area’s posh factor with a swanky modern dining room, white-umbrella–strewn patio, and Mediterranean-inspired cui- sine by chef Ryan Fancher, who delivers some tricks he learned while cooking at The French Laundry. See p. 149.

  • The Girl & the Fig (Sonoma, Sonoma Valley; & 707/938-

    • 3634)

      : The cuisine at this modern, attractive cafe is nouveau- country with French nuances—and, yes, usually figs: They appear in creations such as the winter fig salad made with

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