Restaurant Review - September 8, 2005 - Joanne


Barndiva
231 Center St., Healdsburg, CA
(707) 431-0100

Open Wednesday thru Sunday
(from Lunch til late hours - a rarity in Healdsburg)


Barndiva is one of the hot upbeat locales in Healdsburg and is renowned for their cocktails and small plates. It’s housed in a big red barnish looking building - hence the name. We’d been there for a Slow Food event, just before it opened and it was time to go for a real dinner. We decided on an early quick dinner for our first visit.

The space is open and bright (but not too bright). The bar is cool-looking and the space is comfortable. It feels like a place you could hang out. The gardens in the back are lovely in an architectural sort of way and there is outside seating.

The bar menu is substantial and the bar is well stocked. The bartender we had definitely knew what he was doing, which is not as common as you might think. In contrast Jack thought the menu was exceedingly ugly and hard to read. But the overall food experience we had was excellent. There is special care taken to choose the best menu ingredients with most - if not all - sustainable sources and many of them local. (Their menu page has link listing many of their sources.)

We’ll be back and soon!

What we had:


Goat Croquettes with House-made Tomato Jam and Local Organic Honey $10.50

The tomato jam is mixed with goat cheese and made into balls, coated and fried. Absolutely divine with the honey. It was hard not to re-order them.


Crispy Sonoma Saveur Duck, watercress and Sesame Soy $9

Duck is shredded and coated in the sauce then served on top of the watercress.
The duck is crispy, tasty and slightly spicy. Watercress was large-leaf but great with this dish.


Grilled Wild Alaskan Halibut with Black Rice, Corn Salsa and Basil Crème

Perfectly cooked. Crisp exterior. Delicious! What a beautiful piece of halibut! (- Jack)


Charcuterie (Nopletani, Sporesetta, Cacciatore Affumicato, Smoked Duck Breast) with Duck Breast Prosciutto and House-made Chicken Liver Mousse - with Della Fattoria Bread, Cornichons and Mustards $25

The dish comes with 3 mustards and large caper berries as well as cornichons. The charcuterie was from Fabrique Delices and Niman Ranch.



Caramelized Minced Pork Balls in Crunchy Lettuce Cups with Sweet Chili Sauce $14
This dish was recommended by our waiter. The chili sauce was spicy and syrupy and really great with the pork balls.


The Bar


Leonora’s Pillow


Cocktails:
Leonora’s Pillow Goslings Black Seal Rum, a splash of Bonterra Muscat, Peach puree and Fresh orange juice. $10

A little thin on flavor despite the number of ingredients but balanced. Good.

Steamy Windows – Cilantro and ginger muddled and vigorously shaken with Luksusowa Vodka and pineapple juice. $10

Wow. Ginger, cilantro and pineapple awesome together – really balanced. Highly recommended – really great with the pork balls and probably with many of the menu items.

A nit-pick? They need to invest in funkier stemware. Their martini/cocktail glasses are standard barware and don't reflect the well-conceived and well-made cocktail in them.


Wine:
Jack chose two by the glass, both $9 each:

2003 Régis Minet Pouilly Fumé Vielles Vignes

2002 Porter Creek George’s Hill Chardonnay




The not-so-gorgeous menu

(But looks much better during a visit in March, 2006)


The cocktail list



March 2006 mini-update: Two lunch visits were quite satisfying. It's definitely a place we recommend! - Jack



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