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Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar, Capitol Hill - Chef Josh Hutter from Poste Takes Over for Mike Bonk

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#151 JLK

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 07:07 PM

I need to know: what's the bandaged cheddar all about?

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#152 DrewTrautmann

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 10:10 PM

I need to know:  what's the bandaged cheddar all about?

It is made in the traditional British style, which calls for it to be wrapped in canvas (aka the bandage) while it is aging. This prevents mold from growing directly on the rind of the cheese. It is aged at least 2 years and during this time they baste it occasionally with butter so that while it is crumbly it has a somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Yum cheese basted with butter.

:)

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#153 CrescentFresh

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 10:10 PM

Killer meal at Sonoma last night. I started with the house made gnocchi in a yellow tomato sauce. The Mrs. had the oyster mushroom ravioli. There is rockin' pasta coming out of that kitchen. Both dishes were perfect with flavor and texture. Absolutely superb.

For seconds I had a seared duck breast. The wood grill gives it just the right amount of smokiness. It was cut into about 8 slices. Meaty and cooked to a perfect medium rare. Tasty, fatty skin of a perfect thickness to complement the meat. The Mrs. dug into the wild boar strip loin. She'd had this before, and while tasty, remembered her previous dish as being a bit more tender. Every cut's different so it might be a one-off thing. Everything was washed down with a bottle of primitivo (for a lean $25).

Sure, there are some quibbles. The place was hot. I mean uncomfortable temperature. I mentioned it to the waiter who said something about the thermostats being on timers to crank out more heat when they're busy because more people are going in and out the front door. Fine. But dang, give the timers an abort button for nights like last night.

Quibble 2. Once you're done with your pasta, there's nothing to sop up that delicious sauce left in the bowl/dish. Putting my face in it and licking it like a slobbering mongrel is not in the cards. (I can be a slobbering mongrel without having to lick a plate. You shoulda seen the hot body art on the hostess!). One of the servers asked if there was anything we needed and I asked for just a couple pieces of bread to soak up the sauce. A short time later a plate of freshly grilled bread was brought out along with a small cup of oil. Didn't need the oil but the bread was a welcome sight and none of that pasta sauce went to waste.

What's the problem? Well, there was a $4 charge for the bread. When I mentioned this to the waiter he offered to remove the charge without issue or a second thought. After all, I had only asked for a piece of bread and not an order of focaccia with oil. May I suggest to our friends at Sonoma that they serve regularly or upon request just some simple slices of unadorned crusty white bread gratis?

Anyway, the service was great last night. Attentive, timely and unobtrusive. The food was spectacular. Particularly the pasta. I've really been enjoying the pasta recently at Notti Bianche, but I have to say, Sonoma edges them out. There, I've said it. Now Notti Bianche can try to outdo Sonoma and then Sonoma can try to outdo Notti Bianche and they can one up each other incrementally over the coming months while us consumers happily devour the results of this mad competition I've started. :)

Edited by CrescentFresh, 05 January 2006 - 10:13 PM.

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#154 Giancarlo Buonarotti

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 12:52 PM

Dined at Sonoma last night, over-all not impressed. the gnochi were tough and stuck to my teeth , the risotto was packed higher than mashed potatoes and starchy as hell. The scallops were not memorable, I had the venison which I doled out to my table mates as it had apparently been laying under the lights waiting for the rest of the order to be prepared-to the point it was discolored. I thought the wine list was weak as I had expected a long list of the Sonoma County wines and there were just a few. The physical plant is very hip and attracts a crowd that just does not know much about food and it's preparation. Won't be back.

#155 bilrus

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 01:59 PM

Dined at Sonoma last night, over-all not impressed...  attracts a crowd that just does not know much about food and it's preparation. 

I'd consider the second part of that statement to be a bit of a stretch considering the fact that a number of fairly discerning posters here have been and had very good to excellent meals.

That's not to say that you didn't catch it on an off night, or the food wasn't to your liking. But I think that a blanket statement about the nature of the people who have enjoyed the food is a bit much, especially based on one visit.

Edited by bilrus, 11 January 2006 - 01:59 PM.

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#156 DCJono

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 02:07 PM

The physical plant is very hip and attracts a crowd that just does not know much about food and it's preparation.  Won't be back.

Meh. Having been there quite a bit (although not since before the holidays) I've slowly come to the conclusion that the menu is very hit-or-miss. There's often some really great stuff, and other times - I agree with you on the gnocchi- it's nothing special. Still figuring out how to tell the difference before ordering :)

#157 LolaDC

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 03:34 PM

Had dinner there for the first time two nights ago and was sadly unimpressed, more by the service than the food. Service was atrocious from the minute I walked in the door. The hostess ignored my friend and me, then she practically hung up on someone who called (I assumed so she could deal with us) and then continued to ignore us. Our server was completely detached and not at all friendly or helpful. The food was wonderful, but the cheese plate (which tasted fantastic) was sparse and the list of white wines by the glass was a bit short.

Bottom line -- my expectations were perhaps overblown, as I have heard a lot of positive feedback from a number of people. Willing to give it another try, though. Maybe I just cought them on a bad night.
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#158 Elias Hengst

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 05:17 PM

I'd consider the second part of that statement to be a bit of a stretch considering the fact that a number of fairly discerning posters here have been and had very good to excellent meals. 

But I think that a blanket statement about the nature of the people who have enjoyed the food is a bit much, especially based on one visit.

Thanks for the kind and even-handed words from our more frequent DR guests.

While I don't like to respond to individual posts, unfortunately Mr. Buonarotti's writings contain several factual errors. This lead me to question whether he was pre-disposed to write from a certain angle or was unaware of what Sonoma is about. As anyone can see, the clear majority reviews of Sonoma on this list and other media (new and old...) have been positive.

I have personally contacted Mr. B - to no avail - to discuss his impressions, and to invite him and his party back at my expense.

We value reasonable feedback - why do you think we keep this page bookmarked? - but it troubles me that Mr. B's post contains several observations on wine and food at Sonoma which are clearly innacurate.

For example, he states that "the wine list was weak as I had expected a long list of the Sonoma County wines and there were just a few."

Mr. B's somehow failed to recognize that we have 19 Sonoma County wines available by the bottle, and over a dozen Sonoma County wines by the glass. It is possible, I suppose, that he is unaware that the Russian River Valley, Carneros, Alexander Valley, are all appelations WITHIN Sonoma County. So obviously, he didn't come for the Sonoma wines he "expected."

more info: http://www.sonomavin...php?Submit=Maps

Second, he describes the venison as in some way discolored by heat lamps. This is strange, as this is a venison carpaccio, and is never near the heat, but is served at room temperature or slightly cooler. It is thinly sliced, and in the center is pink. Perhaps he was unaware that carpaccio usually refers to a raw preparation, and thus would never be near "lights" providing heat.

On a more general note, I think it is improper to write of any restaurant's guests in such a sweepingly deragotory manner, as he did when he that Sonoma "attracts a crowd that doesn't know much about food."

Perhaps Mr. Buonarotti would care to explain how he knows so much more about food than our frequent guests and DR members, our entire staff, and the thousands that eat at Sonoma each month. I am sure that Banco, Fun J., Tom S., and others would be amused to find themselves on the culinary equivalent of the short yellow school bus.

Finally, Mr. B - and a couple other posters - failed to follow Rule #1 of the discerning/demanding guest: if you do not like something, immediately ask for a manager or sommelier to have them fix or replace it. It makes no sense to hold a complaint deep inside like some secret.

Our goal of superb service and cuisine is a personal one, and we never want to let a guest leave unhappy.

Sonoma's mission is to bring moderately-priced organic, seasonal cuisine together with 40 carefully selected wines by-the-glass in a bustling, lively, and personal setting. It's a simple one.

We have been striving to improve since our crazy day one. If you have a problem or question with how we are fulfilling the above, I'm always around...

Sincerely

Edited by Elias Hengst, 11 January 2006 - 08:07 PM.

Eli Hengst, Owner
Blue Ridge Restaurant Glover Park
Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar Capitol Hill

#159 goldenticket

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 08:42 PM

I am sure that Banco, Fun J., Tom S., and others would be amused to find themselves on the culinary equivalent of the short yellow school bus.

:) :o B) I'm LMAO!
Very well-said!

But seriously, I am of the opinon that it's not fair to base impressions on one visit. I know that my first experience at some board favorites didn't live up to my (perhaps too high) expectations, so I've held off on posting until giving places another try (or two or three). On the other hand, dining/food is very subjective so there are probably going to be places that lots of people love but don't appeal to some others.

I enjoyed my first visit to Sonoma - which has :lol: unfortunately been my only one. I'm looking forward to getting back there as I found the food and wine to be interesting and very good.

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#160 CrescentFresh

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 10:15 PM

Dined at Sonoma last night, over-all not impressed.  the gnochi were tough and stuck to my teeth , the risotto was packed higher than mashed potatoes and starchy as hell.  The scallops were not memorable, I had the venison which I doled out to my table mates as it had apparently been laying under the lights waiting for the rest of the order to be prepared-to the point it was discolored.  I thought the wine list was weak as I had expected a long list of the Sonoma County wines and there were just  a few.  The physical plant is very hip and attracts a crowd that just does not know much about food and it's preparation.  Won't be back.

I had the gnocchi a week ago. It was nothing like you describe. I've been to Sonoma about a dozen times since it opened. Sometimes just for a glass of wine and a starter. Sometimes for a full meal. Sometimes dinner. Sometimes lunch. In those dozen visits I've had some that were better than others. But not one has ever been in the same galaxy as the horror show that you seem to describe. In fact, I'd say Sonoma gets better with each of my visits.

There is a recognizable trend that when a "favorite" on this board, or similar ones, is "trashed" that the person who posts the negative review is usually hit with dozens of posts calling him/her crazy for thinking the place sucks. Frankly, that bothers me. I don't think everyone is going to have the same opinion of a place. And I know that places have off nights. And I usually refrain from the chorus of "you're crazy" because everyone sees things differently. If what they say is truthfully false or baiting, that's when I often don't hesitate to jump in.

Hell, I'd be willing to say that you caught a bad deal because you went out during restaurant week which, as far as I'm concerned, is just as much amateur week as Valentine's Day is amateur night. Why is my opinion different from yours? I don't know. Maybe I'm very hip but not uber-hip and therefore unable to see through decor that enduces a Svengali trance where I begin to believe Sonoma rocks. That's sarcasm, by the way, which differs from offensive. Bilrus is right. Your comment is offensive. And I think Eli answered to the rest.
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#161 Giancarlo Buonarotti

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 06:31 AM

"Hell, I'd be willing to say that you caught a bad deal because you went out during restaurant week which, as far as I'm concerned, is just as much amateur week as Valentine's Day is amateur night."

Sonoma was not participating in Restaurant week, that was one reason we chose it. Perhaps they were having an off night, I had read so many kind reviews and was expecting much more than what we got. There were 2 rissotto's brought to our table, both were inferior products, sorry. Two of my friends ordered a rib eye, one was 60%fat the other only 10 or 20%, the waiter laughed it off and said it "sometimes there's alot of fat". We enjoyed the physical plant and the pistascio ice cream was memorable, perhaps I will give it another try


edited to include quote

Edited by Giancarlo Buonarotti, 12 January 2006 - 06:42 AM.


#162 Banco

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 09:58 AM

I am sure that Banco, Fun J., Tom S., and others would be amused to find themselves on the culinary equivalent of the short yellow school bus.

I came to this little imbroglio a bit late, but just let me say I would be proud to ride on the short yellow school bus, with my head held high, as long as Sonoma's cuisine were served on board.

And especially the heat-lamp-discolored carpaccio! :)

#163 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 11:04 AM

And I'd like to complain about the quality of the Armagnac at Sonoma. I accuse it of giving me a headache this morning.

eta: I meant quantity, not quality.
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#164 Pat

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 10:33 AM

We got to Sonoma a few minutes early last night and our table wasn't quite ready, so we took advantage of the opportunity to visit the upstairs lounge. I'd only briefly gotten a peek at it once, so it was enjoyable to sit, enjoy a glass of wine (a Russian River chardonnay) and the impressive view.

Downstairs, I started with the oyster mushroom-cauliflower ravioli, which I'd had once before and enjoyed. I like that flavor combination, though it's not one I would conjure up myself. My husband ordered the bucatini with pancetta and tomato sauce, and we shared. He got the steelhead trout filet for a main course, and I got the Wagyu burger, with roasted mushrooms and gorgonzola. That seems to be the way I always end up ordering it. I'm such a creature of habit :) .

The restaurant was not as loud as it has been in the past. It seems like maybe there have been acoustic tiles put in. The lower noise level made the evening even more pleasant.

#165 MBK

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 04:46 PM

Does anyone have any "can't miss" items on the menu at Sonoma these days? I'm going for my first time tonight, and want to be sure to order correctly. Going with two dining companions, one a vegetarian, the other (like me) an omnivore.
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#166 Hannah

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 04:55 PM

I'd definitely get the black truffle risotto, the wild boar striploin, or the oyster mushroom-cauliflower ravioli again (all were on the menu as of a week and a half ago). But you can't really go wrong with a burger or a charcuterie platter either.

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#167 Cooter

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 05:26 PM

I second the black truffle rissotto!

#168 Pat

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 05:51 PM

Does anyone have any "can't miss" items on the menu at Sonoma these days?  I'm going for my first time tonight, and want to be sure to order correctly.  Going with two dining companions, one a vegetarian, the other (like me) an omnivore.

I really like the mushroom-cauliflower ravioli (I presume that's a veg dish).

#169 Bean

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 12:06 PM

I went to Sonoma last night and had a wonderful time. Sunday's offer 1/2 price of wine from a selected reserve list, and the two we tried... a Monsanto (?) Super Tuscan Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and the Seghesio "Chianti station" Sangiovese from Anderson Valley were great steals for $37 and $49 respectively.

We weren't that hungry and shared a full chacuterie plate with speck, sopresseta, bresola, coppa, prosciutto and chicken pate. It came with smoky grilled bread and a few wonderful accoutrements. I loved the use of the wooden cutting board for presentation. The waiter suggested the pickled scallions with the chicken liver pate and it was a perfect match. We tried a few cheeses, which were served at the perfect temperature with red and white wine jelly... it was very mild and more of a novelty, but I liked the presentation. The Humboldt Fog is on the list, and has never disappointed me. We had a small green salad to cut the richness, and the greens were delicate and flavorful with a vinaigrette that could have used a little more seasoning, but didn't overwhelm the freshness of the mix.

The space is nice, simple. The bar is beautiful... the wine is shelved next to old cookbooks (one being the Art of Eating Well). The bartender was knowledgeable, the crowd friendly. I will return, and I suggest trying it out if you haven't already.
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#170 Spiral Stairs

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 08:54 AM

I had the black truffle risotto last night -- that's a lot of truffle! It was delicious. My wife, whose appetite waxes and wanes, ordered the gnocchi. Lucky for me, her appetite waned and I snagged about half of it. Whatever grilling/toasting they do the gnocchi gives it a really pleasant, almost meaty, taste and texture. I also had the diver scallops, which were decent. But I wished I had gone with my initial urge and tried the wild boar. (As a general rule of dining out, I believe in always trying the wild boar.)

I was happy to see that Sonoma continues to pack the house, which is a good sign for my poor restaurant-deprived 'hood. (Entrepreneurial restaurateurs, a world of riches awaits you in Capitol Hill!) However, I wondered if the restaurant's infrastructure was prepared for the packed house. Service was pretty slow. After immediately asking us if we wanted tap or bottled water, there was a very long wait before our server returned to ask for drink or food orders. I reached the point of executing the Confused Head Swivel, searching for our server. (Perhaps we discouraged a return visit because our foursome was busily involved in conversation. But still...) Once we got into the swing of things, the pace was better.
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#171 Elias Hengst

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 07:00 AM

Sonoma will be ending lunch early so that its staff is able to attend the National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice, also known as "La Marcha," starting at Meridian Hill and ending on the Mall.

We hope that readers of this forum realize that without the hard work of Latino, Asian, African, and other immigrants in the area, there would be very few, if any, places to eat in Washington, DC.

Sincerely,

Eli Hengst
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Blue Ridge Restaurant Glover Park
Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar Capitol Hill

#172 Banco

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 10:19 AM

...and when you're through demonstrating, come to Sonoma for halibut cheeks with saffron velouté with rapes and asparagus, which tastes every bit as good as it sounds.

#173 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 10:03 AM

May I ask about the reservation policy at Sonoma through Opentable?

I have noticed that when I try to secure a table for 1 person, it says there are no tables available. When I try to make it for 2 people, there are tables available.

Opentable oddity or Sonoma policy?

Thanks!

#174 Pat

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Posted 11 May 2006 - 06:58 PM

May I ask about the reservation policy at Sonoma through Opentable?

I have noticed that when I try to secure a table for 1 person, it says there are no tables available.  When I try to make it for 2 people, there are tables available.

Opentable oddity or Sonoma policy?

Thanks!

Not a definitive answer, but I've tried to do an Open table reservation for one at a couple of places and not been able to do it. From that, I concluded it was a system-wide policy, but I'm not sure that that's the case.

We're going to Sonoma tomorrow night for dinner and I'm wondering what to look forward to on the menu. We haven't been there in several months. I could be patient and just wait until we arrive, but I'm curious :)

#175 Banco

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 08:22 AM

At Sonoma last night Drew was offering a wings special. He raised this humble bar-food staple to Olympian heights: organic chicken wings marinated in a sauce with vinegar and soy, then cooked over the fruitwood-fired grill. I can still smell the spicy, smoky aroma that rose up to greet me as he put them on the table. They were served with a dipping sauce made with a French blue--it may have been d'Auvergne but I can't recall exactly. I urged Drew to put these wings on the menu permanently, at least during "barbecue" season. They really are fantastic.

#176 Meaghan

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 11:30 AM

At Sonoma last night Drew was offering a wings special. He raised this humble bar-food staple to Olympian heights: organic chicken wings marinated in a sauce with vinegar and soy, then cooked over the fruitwood-fired grill. I can still smell the spicy, smoky aroma that rose up to greet me as he put them on the table. They were served with a dipping sauce made with a French blue--it may have been d'Auvergne but I can't recall exactly. I urged Drew to put these wings on the menu permanently, at least during "barbecue" season. They really are fantastic.

Mmmmm, sounds great!! Was this a special appetizer or a whole meal?

#177 Banco

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 11:40 AM

Mmmmm, sounds great!! Was this a special appetizer or a whole meal?

I think it would count as an app. There were about 4 or 5 wings (whole, that is; not jointed).

#178 Pat

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Posted 13 May 2006 - 09:21 AM

At Sonoma last night Drew was offering a wings special. He raised this humble bar-food staple to Olympian heights: organic chicken wings marinated in a sauce with vinegar and soy, then cooked over the fruitwood-fired grill. I can still smell the spicy, smoky aroma that rose up to greet me as he put them on the table. They were served with a dipping sauce made with a French blue--it may have been d'Auvergne but I can't recall exactly. I urged Drew to put these wings on the menu permanently, at least during "barbecue" season. They really are fantastic.

They had them as a special last night too, but I'm not sure if they were prepared exactly the same way as what you had. My husband didn't really care for them. He thought they were undercooked. I thought they were cooked through enough but the flavors didn't come through as I was expecting from the description. I liked them but they didn't transport me. I'd try them again, though, as it may just have been an anomaly with the order we got. I generally like the chicken at Sonoma. The Amish source they use seems quite good.

The rest of the meal was stellar. We had a cheese plate (I love the red wine jelly that comes with that) and a plate of the truffled peaches. I love those truffled peaches and was disappointed when they were off the menu for a while. I got the lobster-cauliflower risotto first as my main course, and it was delightful. My husband had the linguine with clams as a first, and I managed to get a few delicious bites of that. He also had the NY Strip with polenta, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

I usually drink beer there (I like the Moretti draught), but last night I ordered wine, and my husband got the Moretti. I tried two different whites, one a Russian River Sauvignon Blanc and the other a blend that I forget the provenance of. Both went well with the meal and were quite reasonably priced.

#179 Elias Hengst

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 05:26 PM

A slightly off-topic post to remind all soccer/football/futbol fans that Sonoma is showing EVERY World Cup game broadcast LIVE during business hours.

The matches will be shown in Sonoma's 2nd floor Lounge, which easily accomodates 100+, and makes it easy to hide from your boss or non-soccer afflicted co-workers lunching downstairs....

Best,

Eli
Eli Hengst, Owner
Blue Ridge Restaurant Glover Park
Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar Capitol Hill

#180 jparrott

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 05:34 PM

Does that include the 3PM EST kickoffs?

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#181 Banco

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 01:54 PM

Just had a relatively new item at Sonoma: grilled yellowtail with red onions, zucchini and a balsamic reduction. This was one of the most pleasurable items Sonoma has had on the menu recently. As always, the wood-fired grill adds dimensions of flavor that take the already excellent ingredients to a higher level. The yellowtail, ordered rare, was creamy and rich, but with the crisp maritime taste of first-class fish (I couldn't help thinking unfavorably of my recent experience at Makoto in this regard). Despite all that, I found myself concentrating a good deal on the vegetables, which almost stole the show: fresh-tasting and flavorful, without a trace of overcooking. I can’t recall the last time I enjoyed simple grilled zucchini so much.

The place was practically full, which always gladdens my heart. As long as I can snatch a spot at the bar.

#182 CrescentFresh

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Posted 05 July 2006 - 08:27 AM

The folks at Sonoma took very good care of our party on Monday night. Starting simply with a bottle of prosecco and a selection of cheeses, the staff gave off a feeling that it was content with us relaxing and enjoying the table for as long as we liked. Service was unrushed and unhurried. While I liked my gnocchi, I think my wife's ravioli was the better of the two dishes. Sitting in a small pool of shallot broth, IIRC, it was almost like a touch of onion soup on the ravioli. Quite nice.

Once again, anything from the wood oven comes out simply kissed with a touch of smoke. In my case it was a whole snapper sitting upright on the plate. The flesh fell easily from bones with just a little push from my knife. Perhaps a tad over-roasted as it was a little bit dry and light on the "natural juices" but nothing that took away from enjoying the dish. The Mrs. had the yellowtail that Banco mentions above and it was every bit as good as he says. Again, that light but distinct smokiness from the oven also showed off on the flank steak that was ordered by another member of our party. Her meat was cooked perfectly to the medium rare she ordered and I'd be willing to bet that if I end up at Sonoma again in the next couple of weeks, this will be the dish I order.

We shared a bottles of both red and white wine during the meal. The one that stood out as particularly memorable and intense was the Steele syrah which managed to do quite well with that flank steak and anything that had that touch of wood grill. For dessert, my wife's roasted banana ice cream was everything you could hope for in homemade ice cream...rich, creamy and not sickeningly banana-y and sugary. My dark chocolate pudding, served in a narrow glass, was denser than I expected (but no less pleasant) and again, not overbearingly sweet. But best of all was dipping a spoonful of the pudding into the banana ice cream.

I probably have mentioned this before, but Sonoma serves its water in these small little glasses that, for me, seem to be emptied in only a few sips. On Monday they were very good about keeping those little glasses full regularly, except near the end of the meal where mine sat empty for a while. I then asked for a pint glass of water, which I'll probably just ask for at the beginning of future meals there. (Wouldn't you think it would be particularly taxing to the staff to have these little 6-ounce water glasses instead of something much larger?) I'm a big fan of Sonoma and I'm glad it's a part of my "rotation."

Eli/Drew, may I suggest you put the new menu pdf up on your website? Some members of our party (first-timers) looked at the menu online before coming, only to find that the menu was different...which led into a "good vs. bad website" discussion!
"Give me a Sandwich and a Douchebag and there's nothing I cannot do." -- Lord Salisbury

#183 Banco

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 01:03 PM

A new item on the menu; ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and squash blossom, served in a light tomato ragu with sliced garlic, basil, and chopped summer squash. I tried ordering this the other day for lunch but they had run out. After tasting it today I understood why. You can taste the fact that every single element in this dish is first-class and fresh, yet they all melded beautifully to create a sum greater than their parts. I guess that's what good cooking is all about.

#184 ulysses

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 01:47 PM

It is good cooking.
For what this place is worth it really doesn't get the attention on this board it deserves.
When you look at menus across the city and see tomato salads in June and Softshells in February you realize that not that many chefs(Besides Ruta and Pastan{to a certain extent}) are in tune with the seasons as well as Drew. If its not at the peak of the season then its not in his walk-in.
He is this citys Judy Rogers. Unpretentious food that makes sense.

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#185 Elias Hengst

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 12:11 PM

Unpretentious food that makes sense.

On behalf of Drew and Sonoma, thanks for those very kind words! That's our mission in a nutshell - and we take your comments and feedback seriously - good or bad. Our web guy is out of town, but if you want an updated menu, Drew or I will email you the latest version personally.

I wanted to take a second to let you all know about a really cool fundraiser next week that benefits young athletes in the area. Sonoma and Mendocino are active sponsors of two local racing teams - M Street Racing-Rockville Harley Davidson, and DC Velo - and next week, we're holding a special Tour de France Screening of the epic Alpe d'Huez State to support Junior cyclists in the area.

Please forward to anyone with an interest in cycling, support junior athletes, the Tour de France, or just drinking on the cheap at Sonoma! Please see the links below for more details!

Eli

####

We encourage you to sign-up for and contribute to the NCVC / Team Snow Valley Juniors Tour de France fundraiser, to be held next Tuesday, July 18, at Sonoma restaurant in DC. We’ll be watching the exciting Alpe d’Huez stage of the tour on large screens, and enjoying great brew, food, prizes and more.

For further information, including news on door prizes, see:
http://www.sonomadc.com/alpe.pdf

To purchase tickets and contribute to the Juniors program, please visit:
https://www.bikereg....sp?eventid=3649

Funds from this event help:

Buy, build and maintain bikes used by many Juniors.
Defray the cost of Juniors’ participation in the international, and hugely popular Can-Am Challenge, held each spring in Sussex County, NJ.
Help Juniors participate in USCF and NORBA National Championships.
Provide the uniforms and equipment that stock many Juniors’ kits.
Defray the cost of NCVC Juniors cycling camp (held this year in Durango, CO).

Alpe d’Huez promises to be epic this year, with the Tour a free-for-all. We hope you can make it for both the entertainment and to support some potential up-and-coming TDF riders!
###
Eli Hengst, Owner
Blue Ridge Restaurant Glover Park
Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar Capitol Hill

#186 CrescentFresh

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 12:04 AM

A soothing bottle of verdicchio shared on a hot night tonight at Sonoma, along with a female friend having her first grappa (which is fun to watch) and lots of Johnny Cash. (Well, too much Johnny Cash). But all in all a good time and cheers to Mick for such fine service.
"Give me a Sandwich and a Douchebag and there's nothing I cannot do." -- Lord Salisbury

#187 lackadaisi

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 01:21 PM

(Well, too much Johnny Cash).

Impossible!

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#188 ASL

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 10:48 AM

Lovely meal at Sonoma last night with a friend. I hardly ever spend any time on the Hill, so I'm not familiar with the post-work atmosphere on Penn. Avenue, but this place clearly draws the upper tier of the Hill crowd.

My starter was the half charcuterie board with Amish chicken pate, duck sausage, and prosciutto San Daniele. They were served with grilled bread (nicely charred in spots), a grainy mustard and four little cups with accompaniments. It was a pretty big portion, which I believe is intended to be shared. (I did finish it, though!) The pate was the best of the lot -- more fluffy and mousse-like than dense, but with great flavor. Duck sausage was a close second. I haven't had any prosciutto in DC that is better than the prosciutto served at Dino, but this stuff wasn't bad.

My second course was the squash blossom ravioli. This was perfect after the meat course -- three medium sized ravioli filled with ricotta and squash blossoms and served with a light tomato-basil-garlic-squash sauce. It was summer in a bowl.

My friend had the panzanella-type salad and the tuna described above. She proclaimed both delicious.

We shared the summer berries with zabaglione, mainly because I have a weakness for zabaglione and raspberries (both separately and together), but also because our waiter recommended them over the vanilla panna cotta. We just couldn't do anything chocolate after all of that food.

I had the valentina montepulciano with the charcuterie board and the verdicchio with my ravioli. They both paired nicely.

#189 Keithstg

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 01:13 PM

We also had an excellent meal at Sonoma last night, after having an excellent meal there last friday as well. I had a risotto to start, which contained proscuitto, corn, mushrooms (chantarelles?), and a bit of stock as a base. Not as creamy as a "typical" risotto, but it was excellent. My wife had the crab salad, which appeared with a more than generous portion of crab on top. She thought it was excellent. For mains, I had the flank steak, which I always get, largely due to the creamy polenta, which is irresistable. This time the meat was cooked perfectly medium rare - on friday it came out a shade closer to medium. My wife had the Amish chicken pasta for an entree, and thought it was excellent as well. This is usually my go-to appetizer, so I was glad to hear that it stood up to a larger portion. To top it all off, Kosta Browne RRV is on the wine list - at $84 I passed (I'm a mailing list customer), but it's a fair price considering both how good the wine is, and after the most recent Wine Spectator review, how (much more) difficult it will be to come by...

#190 Pat

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 01:04 PM

I had dinner at the bar at Sonoma last night. Despite the heat, I was really hungry. I hadn't eaten all day. I think a corollary to the "don't go to the supermarket when you're hungry" applies to going to Sonoma when hungry. I ordered way too much food. And, probably because of the heat, actually eating a lot wasn't such an appealing idea.

To start, I got a glass of prosecco. Later, I switched to Moretti beer. To eat, I got two cheeses and the charcuterie plate with 3 meats. I got a Crater Lake blue cheese that I loved and a delicious French hard cheese I don't remember the name of (it started with an F); speck; Amish chicken pate, and duck salami. The accompaniments this was served with really blew me away. I'd only had the truffled peaches before (which I adore). I got to try the wine-soaked dried figs, pickled scallions, and spiced nuts, in addition to the truffled peaches. It was too much to eat, so I brought it home and had the rest of it for breakfast this morning :) . We need a pig emoticon.

I had also ordered squash blossom and goat cheese ravioli, based on people's rave reviews here, but I was so full partway through the meats and cheeses that I asked Mick if he could cancel the order. I told him I'd be happy to take it home if it was too late to stop it from being prepared :lol: . I hate being a nuisance like that, but he insisted that it was no problem, that order hadn't been fired yet. Still, I felt like a glutton <oink>.

I need to go back and order the ravioli while it's still on the menu :)

#191 DrewTrautmann

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 04:51 PM

To anyone interested we will be showing the MLS allstar game in the back lounge aka the wine room starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday August 5th. They will be playing Chelsea featuring Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien, and a host of other international stars. During the game we will offer the full menu in that room plus a couple of specials
thanks,

Drew Trautmann

?????????


#192 Banco

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 01:53 PM

Lunch at Sonoma today found a new item on the menu: a pork tenderloin accompanied by a mustard-flavored peach compote with a small salad of edamame. (I'd be more precise but the menu on Sonoma's website is quite old.)

Before the pork I had a wild mushroom soup, bound with chicken stock and some kind of starch, perhaps corn or potato. It was garnished with croutons and shavings of Parmigiano and was exactly as such a soup should be: natural, uncomplicated, and brimming with mushroom flavor and aroma.

The tenderloin was cooked between medium and medium rare (in my opinion perfect for this cut) and sliced. Like many entrees at Sonoma, it was served just this side of warm, with the garnishes even closer to room temperature. I sometimes wonder whether this serving temperature is intentional or an oversight; my uncertainty I suppose is caused by the fact that it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the dish. It had a discretely charred exterior and a full, natural flavor that was perfectly accented by Drew's choice of accompaniments.

Tim at the bar thought a Maculan Brentino Veneto would go very well with the pork, and, as usual, he was spot on.

It's always fun to try out new items on Sonoma's menu just to see what Drew conjures up with the changing seasons. His creativity is matched only by his insistence that the ingredients speak for themselves.

#193 Tweaked

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 09:09 AM

Fall is definitely on the menu at Sonoma...try the fall mushroom ragu with pumpkin puree (listed on the First Course portion of the menu)...it is the essence of fall on a plate.
Meat is Murder...Tasty Tasty Murder

#194 Tweaked

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Posted 04 October 2006 - 08:49 AM

After yesterday's bitch fest over Park Cafe, Fusion Grill and Banana Cafe, my friend and I said fuck it let's go to Sonoma...glad we did, snagged a table outside on a beautiful night, started off with a bowl of the oyster soup, a scattering of plump oysters quivering in a broth of fish stock and cream, a handful of cripsy croutons...moved onto a white pizza with soppreseta. Yum. Finished off with some roasted banana ice cream.

F-U to PC, FG & BC
Meat is Murder...Tasty Tasty Murder

#195 Banco

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 08:29 AM

Drew gave a me a sample yesterday of something new about to appear on the menu. A grilled lamb chop paired with grilled quail. It sounds plain, and in fact it is, but the meat in both cases is of such high quality, and the wood grill adds so much flavor to this dish, it simply is fantastic. There's a delicate crust from the fruitwood fire on the outside, and inside is pure tender juiciness. The meats are served with a dipping sauce flavored with (I think) bourbon. But I ignored most of the sauce because the meat on its own was so primordially luscious.

#196 ulysses

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 12:55 PM

snagged a table outside on a beautiful night, started off with a bowl of the oyster soup, a scattering of plump oysters quivering in a broth of fish stock and cream, a handful of cripsy croutons...moved onto a white pizza with soppreseta. Yum. Finished off with some roasted banana ice cream.
F-U to PC, FG & BC


Curious....that means I was sitting right next to you eating the exact same thing at the exact same time. Very curious.

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Estadio
doi moi

2 Birds 1 Stone


#197 DCJono

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Posted 05 October 2006 - 01:07 PM

Curious....that means I was sitting right next to you eating the exact same thing at the exact same time. Very curious.

I was also there last night, but sat inside. The new pork tenderloin dish was great, as was the spiced spaghetti squash side. I was happy to see the brussel sprouts with pecans back on the menu - it's one of my favorites. Sadly they were undercooked and raw. They should've gone back, but my friend was halfway through a long, serious story and I didn't want to interrupt.
Otherwise, they did a great job last night.

#198 Banco

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 02:39 PM

If you have a longing for a rich and aromatic seafood stew, Sonoma is putting one on their menu tomorrow. It was offered as a special today and I tried it for lunch. Juicy mussels and cockles are combined with wild prawns, chunks of monkfish, and slices of andouille and calamari, all lolling in a velvety tomato broth with a brunoise of carrots and onions spiked with saffron and orange zest. It was complex and intoxicating and one of the best things I've had there in months. It goes very well with the mourvedre rosé they offer by the glass.

#199 susantf

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 09:53 PM

I'm a Hillie and have dined at every place on the Hill (maybe I missed one). Anyway, I've been to Sonoma only once and had a decent cheese plate and a mediocre pasta dish. But based on the fact that the owner of Sonoma monitors and replies to this thread, I think I'll be going back. If only every restaurant specific thread were monitored by the restaurant chef and/or owner, this would be a happier dining world. I'll give it another shot. :-)

#200 mdt

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 07:34 AM

I'm a Hillie and have dined at every place on the Hill (maybe I missed one). Anyway, I've been to Sonoma only once and had a decent cheese plate and a mediocre pasta dish. But based on the fact that the owner of Sonoma monitors and replies to this thread, I think I'll be going back. If only every restaurant specific thread were monitored by the restaurant chef and/or owner, this would be a happier dining world. I'll give it another shot. :-)

I think it deserves another shot based on my past experiences. Glad to see that others are happy with various restaurants making an effort to keep on top of things. I am sure that many more restaurant chefs and/ or owners monitor these threads than we know.





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