Up in Healdburg there's been a changing of the guard at two-year-old Spoonbar. Former Aziza chef de cuisine Louis Maldonado was hired this spring to revamp the formerly Mediterranean-focused menu which Mr. Bauer once said took a backseat to the great cocktail program. Maldonado has remade the place indeed, putting together a sophisticated, imaginative, and on-trend menu the likes of which many Mission restaurants would be glad to serve. But for wine country, it's already taken a little getting used to. "We've gotten some push-back from guests about the single-word descriptions of the ingredients," Maldonado tells us. "People are like, 'But what is it, really?' They're kind of coming around though. And we've had to adjust to expectations around here in terms of portion sizes too."
Nevertheless, the menu is fun and unpretentious, and it shows off Maldonado's talents and years of training in a Michelin-starred kitchen. It features things like hamachi collar and chicken cracklings which haven't yet become common sights outside the city, all of which work well with the new cocktail program by Cappy Sorentino, which builds on the legacy of opening bar manager Scott Beattie.
You should note that the portions pictured here were specific to tasting-menu sizes at a dinner we attended Sunday, and that the actual portions on the regular menu are much more generous.BEGIN SLIDESHOW