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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Glen Ellen Star Offers Affordable, Local Fare in the Heart of Wine Country

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Brick chicken at Glen Ellen Star. - ALICE DISHES
  • Alice Dishes
  • Brick chicken at Glen Ellen Star.

The Glen Ellen Star shines as one of Sonoma County's best places to eat. The rustic, simply-styled restaurant, complete with wood-burning oven, focuses on high-quality local ingredients served at an affordable price -- it's even been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand award, given to restaurants where diners can enjoy two courses and either a glass of wine or dessert for under $40. The restaurant was established in 2012 by Chef Ari Weiswasser (formerly of French Laundry) and his wife Erinn Benziger-Weiswasser (of the Benziger wine family just up the road).

Like most spots in Wine Country, the menu is full of seasonal produce, and local meat and seafood. A recent menu featured spring pea soup with ricotta gnudi ($10), wood-roasted artichokes with parmesan and Aleppo ($10.50), and spring lamb ragu with gnocchi, artichokes, and calabrian chile ($23). At least half of the dishes are prepared in the wood oven, from pizzas ($14-17) to a selection of great, mostly vegetable, share dishes ($10.50) which arrive in cast iron dishes.

A yellowtail starter at Glen Ellen Star. - ALICE DISHES
  • Alice Dishes
  • A yellowtail starter at Glen Ellen Star.

On a recent visit, the much-recommended Brussels sprouts with brown sugar bacon marmalade ($10.50) were a little too sweet and fatty. But a special starter -- yellowtail crudo with jalapeño, crispy onions and a spot-on citrus dressing -- was spot on, if a little pricey at $16.

Brick chicken ($22) had crisp, golden skin and tender, juicy meat. It was complemented by a beautifully seasoned chickpea, tomato, pea, and olive sauce, and served on a bed of cauliflower purée that provided just the right "mop" for the sauce.

For dessert, Glen Ellen Star features house-made ice cream, served in half-pint cardboard cartons. Flavors range from vanilla maple bourbon to salted peanut butter; it's hard to resist wanting to try them all. And the well-curated wine list also offers plenty to choose from. A glass of Domaine Carneros methode champenoise, Napa 2009, at $13 was a great accompaniment on a sunny evening.

This place is a great way to end a day of wine tasting and sightseeing in Sonoma. Put it on your Wine Country bucket list.

ALICE DISHES
  • Alice Dishes

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