After parting ways with the founding chef, Drawing Board owner Rosie Wiggins literally went back to the drawing board to reshape her menu and rejuvenate her staff. However, the core values which led her to the concept for the Drawing Board since day one are ever present, which is how this barely year old restaurant can take on an ageless feel, as if it has always been, and will always be a part of Petaluma’s downtown culture.
It was serendipity that Chef Kevin Katsolis came onto the scene exactly when the Drawing Board needed him, and with precisely the attitude and chops required to maintain and grow its young, yet hard won reputation intact.
“For his interview, he prepared a faro and mussel dish that blew me away,” says Rosie. Katsolis was formerly the chef at The Bywater in Los Gatos, which is one of the restaurants run by Michelin Starred chef, David Kinch. As luck would have it, Katsolis’s wife was born and raised in Petaluma and wanted to return to her home town once their first child arrived, and local diners have been thankful ever since.
From menu changes to drink specials, everything is collaborative at the Drawing Board. “We have an actual drawing board in the kitchen,” continues Rosie. “There are no egos in our kitchen or behind the bar. If someone comes up with a good idea, the whole team is gets excited.” Simply put, everything just works, and offers guests a vibrant, yet relaxing atmosphere.
With a good portion of my food crew on hand, we were fortunate enough to try most of the menu, which included many new items, as well as old favorites.
“I never say never, but there are certain items that will always be on the menu,” says Rosie about featured elements, such as the Carrot Lox, which even as a vegan dish, is one we order every visit. Another crowd favorite is the Chickpea Fries, with serrano crema, which along with many other menu items, is gluten free.
Often a menu modification will hold more misses than hits, but each new dish that arrived at our table seemed to be better than the last. We started with the Black Garlic Ghee, which is basically the best clarified butter you have ever had. This is topped with fermented black garlic, which is all the rage right now, and for deliciously good reason. The accompanying warm sourdough, from Revolution Bakery, makes this anything but your standard bread and butter started.
In fact, along with several other dishes, we ordered a second serving of the Black Garlic Ghee because it deserved an immediate revisit. Another similarly presented, and equally exquisite bread spread was the Chicken Liver Mousse, topped with rooibos jam and spiced pickled fruit.
As we have come to expect from the Drawing Board, everything was excellent, but we returned the following night for two dishes in particular because they were truly spectacular. The firefighter in my crew proclaimed the meatballs to be the best he has ever had, and after careful consideration, with the help of an immediate second order, none of us could argue otherwise. Served over long-stewed tomatoes and covered in dandelion gremolata, this is a must-order dish.