109 Plaza St, Healdsburg, CA
(707) 433-1380 Visited August 26, 2006 – Lunch
Bistro Ralph is a restaurant which we have dined at many times over the years, for both lunch and dinner. We had not visited in quite a while – our recent lunch found it similar to our past experiences; pleasant Wine Country food but nothing to rush there for. We ordered two of our past favorites, the chicken livers and the CK Lamb burger.
Both remain fine lunch choices.
Bistro Ralph has two tables outside at the entrance - so make sure you reserve one if you wish to eat outside. There is also seating at the bar.
What we ordered:
Soup - Heirloom Tomato
There was no oil or cream just a bit of orange oil drizzled over the top. Soup was pureed so it had a creamy tomato color. Bright acidic flavor. Good and fresh!
The quarter-head of iceberg lettuce was good not great – the dressing very blue cheesy with chives and some pepper and two gorgeous crisp bacon slices garnishing the top.
CK Lamb burger – medium
The meat is seasoned with something like a relish and is very tender. Served with crispy flat shredded fries garnished with chopped scallions and gherkin pickles. The bun has a smear of aioli on it when it arrives with a slice of tomato and nice leaf of lettuce – we ordered it without the caramelized onions. A good quality but standard hamburger bun is nicely toasted.
Smoked Salmon BLT
The sourdough was very crispy but although I loved it on it’s own, it made the sandwich hard to eat and the elements inside didn’t mesh. The salmon was great (not too smoky) and had a hint of sweetness. The aioli was wonderful – it could have used even more on the side. The pesto pasta was too al dente to be a pleasant cold salad – a shame as the pesto was pine nutty and bright.
Chicken Livers w/bits of Applewood smoked bacon and grilled onions
A favorite of Jack's; he cleaned the plate once again. It’s such an unusual item on a US menu. Here presented with a crispy wedge of creamy polenta (which adds nothing to the enjoyment of the liver).
On the table, little rolls seasoned with caraway and olive oil. Today’s were not that fresh – hard on the edges and a bit chewy. When they are fresh they are hard to stop eating.
Wine List It’s been an all-California wine list since we first dined at Bistro Ralph, perhaps seven years ago. This list has always been bland but this visit had 1997 Rochioli Estate Pinot Noir and 1998 Rochioli West Block at extremely reasonable prices. I doubt they’ll be there for long, but they're the first two exciting choices that Jack can recall seeing on the wine list.
We ordered two glasses of wine: 2003 Acorn Cabernet Franc Alegría Vineyard
Nose of squashed raspberries but too much new oak lingered on the palate. Bright and fruity.
2005 Williams Selyem Vin de Gris of Pinot Noir
Pleasant wine. A nice choice with a salad and sandwich.
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.