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Petaluma’s Speakeasy the place to go for after hours dining

If you know where the pretty fountain at Putnam Plaza is downtown, it is easy to find Speakeasy and The Big Easy, as they are just behind the fountain on the Plaza, and certainly worth seeking out. You do have to do a little looking, because Speakeasy does not have much of a sign, so look for the place that is diagonally across the pathway from The Big Easy which is located at 128 American Alley, and you will find Speakeasy at 139B Petaluma Blvd.

The menu is the same at both places, but the venues are quite distinct, as The Big Easy is a place dedicated to entertainment, while Speakeasy is all about the food and drink. The exciting thing is that you can get great food and awesome entertainment in one place at The Big Easy. We are pretty upset at ourselves for never having set foot in The Big Easy before this. The service was excellent, attentive but unobtrusive.

When I spoke with one of the two owners, Roger Tschann that evening, he told me that he and Amber Driscoll started Speakeasy in 2012, and opened The Big Easy in 2014. He had always been involved in the music entertainment business, so it seemed like a natural to him, and the outcome speaks to his expertise.

The food is served tapas-style, so mostly small plates, but we always get good value for the money at this restaurant. In addition to the dinner/show service at The Big Easy, one can dine inside Speakeasy or on their patio for Sunday brunch and dinner.

Some of the most memorable menu items were the edamame hummus ($6) with warm pumpernickel toasts, citrus oil and sea salt, the Nieman Ranch burger ($10) with hand-cut crispy Kennebec fries, the citrus salad ($8), the grilled asparagus ($10) with shaved Parmesan cheese and a crispy fried egg, creamy blue cheese polenta ($10) with awesome, perfectly cooked thick-sliced smoked bacon and a poached egg, and the tomatillo chicken enchilada ($6).

We had the brunch starter, maple bacon donut holes ($6) which were awesome at brunch, so when we saw them on the dinner menu as dessert we ordered them again and they were not quite as good as the first time, although okay. And it did seem a bit weird, having bacon for dessert. On that same brunch visit we tried the eggs Benedict ($12) and the lobster mac and cheese, which while very tasty did not seem to have any lobster, but at only $14 our hopes in that department were not very high.

We also tried the baked soft pretzel ($6), croque madame ($12) a “fork and knife” sandwich, pomegranate chicken ($15) a huge portion of boneless chicken and rice, ($12 for 3) which were all quite serviceable. There are at least two items on the menu that call for an ingredient (pomegranate seeds) that is out of season. Due to some unforeseeable delay the switchover to the current season menu has been delayed a bit, but the owners assure me that a menu change to match the seasons is on the way soon.

Other desserts sampled were the bread pudding, served warm, with delicious vanilla ice cream, the Italian espresso and ice cream dessert called affogato, and the peanut butter chocolate pie that was like a huge deep chocolate bar with a bit of peanut butter added. At only $6 each, the desserts are a bargain.

Both restaurants seem very friendly toward vegetarians or people with other dietary restrictions, and seem willing to take special requests for substitutions. Of special note is that Speakeasy serves food until 2 a.m. It is one of the very few places in Petaluma where one can get good quality food very late at night, and so this is one of those “file for future use” bits of information that you never know when you might want to use that particular attribute.

The bar serves beer and wine, and they have very interesting lists for both, with a number of selections by the glass, all served in lovely stemware, with appropriate sized pours, each a good value for your money. They also have some specialty drinks made with agave wine, Han vodka, house bubbles and kombucha, all for only $8. On Saturday and Sunday they serve bottomless Mimosas for $15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Monday in Speakeasy you can enjoy a daily red or white wine for only $5.

In case you are out at the coast, you may also want to know that the owners of these two restaurants also own Fog’s Kitchen in Tomales, so stop in if you are in the area. While there are a number of menu items that are similar, there is also an abundance of differing items on Fog’s Kitchen’s menu to make it worth the trip to try different things.

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