Update August 9, 2008
The General's Daughter has closed. The new owners (The Girl and The Fig) will be changing the name to Estate and the cuisine will be casual Italian. Look for a mid-September opening.

Restaurant Review - November 14, 2007 - Joanne

The General's Daughter in Sonoma, CA
The General's Daughter

400 W. Spain St., Sonoma, CA
Visited July 26, 2007 - Dinner
We recently revisited The General's Daughter with Chuck of Chuck Eats and had a pleasant dinner in wine country. The restaurant decor has changed a bit since our last visit, with black tablecloths adding a sense of drama. Interior at The General's Daughter Large farm animal paintings tie the rooms together and give the ambiance just the uplift it needed, but the restaurant is still not a warm, cozy place, albeit it is a pleasant one.

We love that Chef Preston Dishman uses organic seasonal produce, natural meats, and fish that are sustainably harvested.Interior at The General's Daughter in Sonoma

The menu is arranged into 5 sections and offers a choice of 3 Courses $49, 4 Courses $61 or 5 Courses $73 and you may select your courses in any order from any section of the menu. The wait staff seemed well trained, but our waiter was still nervous and easily ruffled by questions.

By the time we left the restaurant, it was near full on a weeknight. The patio is a dining option in the summer and it was nice to see families enjoying the cool summer evening outside. An outdoor fireplace was under construction. When going out for dinner in Sonoma, the General's Daughter remains our first choice.

Amuse at The General's Daughter in Sonoma
Amuse - My recollection was a butternut squash soup with truffle oil? It was a pleasant start to the dinner.

the Beginning
Forest Mushroom Ragout, Smoked Duck, Sweet Corn Custard
Forest Mushroom Ragout, Smoked Duck, Sweet Corn Custard
The accompanying corn custard was wonderful with the heavy duck bacon element of the dish, but the mushrooms were completely lost under the strength of the bacon. The bacon could have been a bit crispier to give more balance to the soft, fluffy custard. (We understand that the dish has since changed and the bacon is no longer an issue.)

Leek, Parmesan & Summer Truffle Tart
Leek, Parmesan & Summer Truffle Tart
The filo pastry was difficult to cut and eat with a fork. The round pastilla-like flat tart was pre-cut into four pieces, which suggested that it could perhaps be picked up with fingers? It would have been improved with less filo and more filling. Or, a smaller, thicker tart. The flavor was good, but the center of the tart did not retain the flakiness of the edges.

the Deep Blue
California Halibut
Line-Caught Halibut, favas, country ham, spring onions
Good. The elements beneath the halibut won praises. The halibut itself was good, but nothing spectacular. It was fortunate that this was not the main course.

Maine Lobster and Potato Gnocchi, tomato, marscapone cream, basil
The gnocchi was heavy. The sauce was thick, almost like an excellent creamy tomato soup, which of course obliterated any nuances of lobster-like flavor. The basil was a strong element. The sauce was delicious enough to sop up with bread.

the Farm
Pan Roasted Duck Breast, fresh shell beans, bacon, garlic sage jus
Pan Roasted Duck Breast, fresh shell beans, bacon, garlic sage jus
It was cooked more medium-well than medium-rare, but tender. The pre-sliced breast atop nicely cooked beans with a brown sauce, meshed the flavors well, with a noticable hint of pancetta. Good.

Natural Veal Medallion, bacon, sweetbreads, spinach, Madeira jus
Natural Veal Medallion, bacon, sweetbreads, spinach, Madeira jus
Good. The Medallions were served unsliced. Jack enjoyed it but would order something else next time.

Cheese Course
I didn't choose the cheese course, but the solid selections on this night were Stilton, Montenebro, Brillat-Savarin, Saenkanter and a Wisconsin cheddar that I don't recall the name of.

The Sweet Finish
Local Fig tart, cream cheese sherbert, oatmeal tuile
Local Fig tart, cream cheese sherbet, oatmeal tuille
A country-style crumble tart with a well-caramelized fig jam center and crème fraîche sorbet(?), which I didn't find added to the tart at all. The tart was reminiscent of a date square, but less sweet. I would have preferred less crust, but it was a pleasant finish.

Peach Polenta Upside-down Cake, toasted almond sherbet, stone fruits, blackberry coulis
We took this dessert to go. Lovely presentation of caramelized, pineapple with a tiny pile of fruit chutney.

Corkage is $25. We brought two bottles and were only charged for one. The sparkling water offered was Voss and for a table of three, 2 bottles immediately appeared (one filled the glasses, the other topped them off). The bill reflected $6/bottle.

February 17, 2006 – Joanne
Exterior of the General's Daughter in Sonoma
The General's Daughter

Visited November 12, 2005

We have been wanting to dine at The General’s Daughter for years, hearing varying reports from friends, but we had never managed to go ourselves. When we recently heard rave reviews about the new chef, Preston Dishman, we decided to finally seek out a table.

The farmhouse atmosphere is slightly romantic. Our waiter was quirky but pleasant and we had good service.

The appetizer plates were huge for the table. Weird: the butter has a grease film on the plate – it’s melting on top and cold on the bottom – was it under a hot lamp in the kitchen? Potato rolls are tasty but “mama’s style” - almost a little too country for the fine cuisine.

To Whet the Appetite:
Sonoma County Artisan Foie Gras $17
(preparation changes daily)

Was denser and more buttery than we usually come across. More countrified style? Jack really liked the figs which accompanied it and also really liked the brioche (texas toast?) – and he generally dislikes brioche as a category.

Hand cut Spicy Pacific Tuna Tartare, green apple salad, sriracha aioli $15

I freaked out about the spicy aspect and initially asked for it to be toned down – then reconsidered and let the chef work his magic and was glad that I did. The tuna was extremely fresh. Great seasoning. I loved the apple salad – really balanced spiciness. Excellent dish.

Soup - Dungeness Crab and Corn $8

Perfect amount of cream – not too light or heavy. Perfect balance of elements – and no shell! It was so good Jack almost reordered a second bowl but he compromised and got an order to go. (This soup was a special the night we visited - the chef offers a nightly selection.) Highly Recommended!

From the Garden:
Grilled Local Pears, arugula, blue cheese, spicy pecans $12
The Arugula had too much dressing but the pears which topped it (grilled green pears) were perfect (and undressed).  Mixing up the pears and the blue cheese, which was perfectly portioned to not unbalance the flavors, made for an enjoyable salad overall.

Local Waters and Beyond:
Bronzed Lion’s Paw Scallops with Porcini risotto, Lemon chive butter $27
An 8 on a 1-10 scale. Jack does not need to have them again and was waxing poetic over the 2 bowls of soup which were mis-delivered to the table next to us and went back to the kitchen.

Field & Forest:
Orange Chipolte Glazed Sonoma Duck Breast, creamed coran, bacon, risotto $25
The duck itself was chewy – I almost sent it back (I should have – in retrospect) – I was so enjoying the divine seasoning I just couldn’t part with it – really. It was the best BBQ flavor ever. The Risotto with corn was a perfect pairing. I loved this dish – but the duck was tough. I would order it again in a heartbeat but I’d send back if the duck was chewy. I loved the seasoning!


I ordered the Frozen Bourbon Chocolate Parfait with Hot Fudge Sauce but the waiter returned to say that it hadn’t set properly and the chef chose not to serve it. Instead we ordered dessert to go and I was glad that we hadn’t skipped dessert - The Chocolate and Peanut butter tart (a menu “special”) and was not to be missed it was divine.

2003 Sanct Valentin Sauvignon Blanc
(we brought it) Minerally, flinty, very good!

1999 Robert Sinskey Vineyard Reserve (Merlot blend) Half-bottle - $29
Sour on finish. Alas, it doesn’t taste as heavenly as it smells. The nose is great. But it is very young. Later notes: Curry on the nose. Bright. A great restaurant wine.

2002 Rasmussen Late Harvest Gewurztraminer Russian River, $9/gl
Wasn’t insipid – not too sweet. Ripe apricots on finish. Weird almost tea-like center.

We really, really enjoyed our dinner and were impressed with the food overall, but it is an expensive dinner - so more consistency in some places (like the butter mis-hap, the huge appetizer plates) needs to be implemented.

There is a definitely southern/country flair to some of food but it’s really well integrated into most of the dishes - where it appears. The downside of the menu choices would be the wide range of choices – the menu doesn’t seem to have a unified theme to it. Our cross section of tasting was good – telling me that whatever direction the chef takes should be great – but perhaps there needs to be more of an overall theme. For instance you don’t think Spicy tuna tartare, potato rolls and chocolate and peanut butter tart in the same dinner, usually – granted – the choices are left up to you. We would return in a heartbeat to eat tuna, soup, duck and peanut butter & chocolate tart.

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