Let me start of by making two points about my review of Sonoma Retail Wine Bar & Restaurant. First, I went to Sonoma with my wife as a romantic dinner date as it was the first weekend she was home after being away for a couple of weeks. Having said that, my second point is that I was unable to get any pictures due to the atmospheric aesthetic that was at this establishment. Taking pictures of food and wine with a flash in a darkened room seemed kind of tacky. Do not fret though, as I hope that my words will suffice to impart a sense of the fabulous time my wife and I had at Sonoma.
The very first thing that struck me about this place was the overall atmosphere. It had a sense of panache that exuded class. However it never felt pretentious or flashy, like it was being forced. Part of that came from the types of patrons that were frequenting Sonoma. While there was a fair share of sharply dressed groups, my wife and I included, you also had your share of more casually attired people there. And the thing about it was that no one felt out of place or awkward. At stated previously, the mood lighting was was set to give the place an air of intimacy.
The next thing I noticed was the service. Don't get me wrong, the waitstaff was very friendly. However, they did fall to waiting by committee, and as I have stated before, this never works ideally. This may have been a by product of having a large party there at the same time, but non the less, it did affect our service somewhat. Our primary waitress gave us our menu and explained that, should we need anything, we could call on any of the waitstaff. While we pondered our options for the evening we noticed a little lag time in being attended. Once we ordered our drinks, they were brought out to us promptly. The food seemed to take a little longer than one would have liked, especially when waiting from our first to second course. I ended up ordered a second glass of wine and it almost went unserved. I will give the waitstaff credit for being knowledgeable about the menu; both the food and drinks. In the end, even though somethings took a little longer that optimal, the waitstaff made up for it.
As far as what we consumed at Sonoma, my wife and I both had some wine. The difficulty of that was the fact the Sonoma has quite an extensive wine list. Luckily for us, the list was cut down significantly due to the fact that only a few wines were offered by the glass. My wife and I were not so certain we would have been able to polish off an entire bottle by ourselves, especially if we wanted to drive home. Instead, she opted for a wine flight and I had a glass. The wine flight consists of 3 oz of four different wines. She choose what is called the Well Traveled which includes Canta Perdices Tempranillo, Domaine de Fontenille Cotes du Luberon, Claudio Morelli ‘Le Terrazze’ Sangiovese, and La Florencia Malbec. Being fan of the malbecs, I choose La Florencia as my wine. My wife enjoyed every wine with the exception of the first (the tempranillo). She is not a fan of wines that are overly dry and she felt that the first wine fell into that category. While I would agree that the tempranillo was a bit dry and could have benefited from a little aeration, I did not think it was too dry. The malbec I had was quite good on the other hand. It had a nice balance between the sweetness and the tart as well as nice body. It was so good, that I ended up ordering a second glass.
My wife and I also ordered food during our outing to Sonoma. We ordered the Duck Confit Eggrolls as an appetizer and one of the hand rolled gourmet pizzas as our entree. We also ended up ordering dessert. The duck confit eggrolls were very tasty. You could tell they were made with fresh ingredients. The mango mustard that accompanied them was also surprisingly good I would have never expected mango and mustard to go well together, but they did. The sweetness of the mango played a good foil to the spicy mustard. My only gripe about the eggrolls is that they were a bit on the small side. The only real reason I see this as a bad thing is the the duck confit tended to get lost in the eggroll with so much else going on in there.
The pizza my wife and I ordered was the Nappa pizza which included olive oil drizzle, forest mushrooms, fresh herbs, goat cheese, parmesan, mozzarella, and white truffle oil. You had me at goat cheese and truffle oil. These are two of my favorite things, and by putting them together on a pizza, you are just pulling at my heartstrings. The pizza was thin and crisp and as our waitress described it, "top heavy". What she meant by that is that it was fully loaded with the toppings. She was not wrong on that end. The pizza had that perfect ration of toppings per pie to make it great.
When it came time to order desserts, my wife opted for the bread pudding. I asked what the dessert of the day was. They waiter told me that it was rocky road bread pudding, but that they might have run out of it already. I told the waiter that the rocky road bread pudding sounds delicious, but failing that, I wold have the four layer chocolate cake. Unfortunately I ended up with the chocolate cake. Now, I don't want to give anyone the impression that the cake was bad. It was good. It just wasn't spectacular or special. My wife's bread pudding on the other hand was amazingly good. Definitely some of the best bread pudding I have had in a long while. If given the choice now, knowing what I know, I wold choose the bread pudding every time.
All in all my wife and I had a great time at Sonoma Retail Wine Bar & Restaurant. In fact I look forward to going back and am even planning on taking some friends who would love this place. At such a time I hope to bring back some pictures of the food and adding an expansion to this review. I would wholeheartedly recommend this establishment to others and encourage them to go.