A Boon for Foodies in Russian River Valley
I love visiting Guerneville in the Russian River Valley, for its lush, cool shade and towering redwoods standing monstrously tall by the running river. The Pinot Noir here is not to be rivaled, in my opinion, especially the 2008 vintage. This is one of the primary draws for me here. The West Country is shabbier than its fashionably neighbor, Napa, but that’s part of its charm. To my East Coast eyes, it’s the Catskills vs. the Hamptons…both are great in their own way, but I often prefer the Catskills, with its less-shiny charms.
The area has a couple new arrivals worth noting. Boon, both a restaurant and a hotel/spa run by the same owner, arrived in Guerneville a few years back and have filled a much-needed gap: sleek, modern quality accommodations and top-notch bistro fare. The restaurant is on River Road and the Hotel and Spa are right around the corner on Armstrong Woods Road. They are both in the epicenter of the Russian River.
The focus of the menu at Boon, the restaurant is local….VERY local. Considering the richness of the bounty in Northern California, and the talent of Chef and Owner Crista Luedtke, eating there is a pretty satisfying experience. The meats are all organic, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free and much of the produce and herbs was raised in her garden. The menu is primarily well-executed bistro fare, and the wines are from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. They also have a very good selection of local beers and natural sodas if you have done too much wine tasting and want a change of pace.
We ate a few meals there over our few visits and were never disappointed. Gauging by the lines for dinner, it seems that others have discovered the charms of Boon as well. Thankfully, they have heat lamps in the outside seating in the front, so that opens up more seats in the temperate weather.
The grilled calamari with arugula, fennel, white beans, and olives with a citrus vinaigrette struck a perfect balance of flavors and the truffle fries with house-made ketchup and garlic aioli is the salty, fatty treat you want it to be. The flat iron steak on a bed of wild arugula and sherry-shallot vinaigrette and Boon burger with Fiscalini-aged white cheddar on a toasted milk bun were simply delicious. One of the house specialties is the flash-fried Brussel sprouts withe olive oil, garlic, crushed red chili peppers and fresh squeezed lemon, and we ordered them for every meal we had.
For dessert, they have a good selection of cheeses, served with great bread, nuts, and dried fruits. The sea salt and chocolate-balsamic brownie with lemon-verbena ice cream is a specialty of the house and it had a dark, delicious, and not overly-sweet appeal. If you find yourself in wine country, its worth a stop at Boon….