Michelin takes notice of Petaluma's Swedish success, Stockhome

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Petaluma’s Stockhome restaurant has received a Michelin Bib Gourmand, an honor bestowed on restaurants offering, “exceptionally good food at moderate prices.”

The award, created in 1995, is chosen by secret reviewers after careful consideration with the “moderate” pricing being determined by the market the restaurant is in. For the San Francisco bay area, this means a starter, a main and a dessert for $40 or less.

It is somewhat of a more pedestrian alternative to the Michelin Star, an honor that is much more exclusive, but still exciting news for both Stockhome’s newly formed fan base as well as Petaluma as a whole. The honor is not surprising considering the quality of their cuisine.

We personally confirmed that again last weekend when we stopped in for lunch and found it innovative, delicious, and coupled with perfect service.

Figuring we would order some of our old standbys, we saw the outdoor sandwich board on Western Avenue announcing the weekly specials, and it read, “Valcommen! Come try our Fiddle Head Fern.” We were not sure what that meant because we see ferns all the time while out hiking around Petaluma, but knew this had to be something different.

Stockhome’s specials do not last long, so we had to give it a try. One of the nice young ladies behind the counter excitedly educated about this dish that is actually made from locally harvested ferns, prior to the heads opening up and rolling out into what becomes the fern’s fronds. Although I usually avoid veggies, I could not stop eating this one.

I would guess the ferns themselves have little flavor but when cooked in butter and paired with cherry tomatoes and garlic yogurt, it made for quite an innovative and delicious dish.

The specials board inside the restaurant had so many great options that we did not even bother looking at the regular menu, which is yet another Bib Gourmand-worthy feature of Stockhome. There are always new dishes to try, which can make it like a new restaurant every time we visit.

With salmon in season, we also went with the salmon pita, which was incredible. Other specials we had to pass up on included a stone fruit salad, Padron chili with cream sauce, and two breakfast items — a Black Forest ham Benedict and the Stockhome breakfast of bacon, sausage or veggies wrapped in a pita with potatoes.

However, what naturally caught my eye on the specials menu was a burger, the first I have seen on Stockhome’s menu. I was told it will be on the specials menu for the summer, but I hope to convince Chef Roberth to keep it on forever. This burger stacks up against any other in town, and is possibly one of the best I have ever had. And the fries step up to match the quality of the burger.

The base price is $12, which is reasonable for a well-made burger. Cheese adds $1 and an egg or kimchi adds $2. I went with cheese and kimchi, as I have been finding our modern local versions of kimchi much to my liking these days. The Chef’s kimchi is so well pickled that I did not even bother to add the included pickles. It is a great combo and one I will return for again and again.

As I am wont to do, I requested bacon on my burger. The brief interaction at the counter yet again reminded us of just how good the service is at Stockhome, even though some initially will complain upon learning that it is “counter service.” Even though the owners were not present, the two ladies up front were clearly happy with their jobs and were enthusiastic about each menu item we had questions about.

We get some of our best service at Stockhome, which is why even though we order at the counter, we still add a standard tip with our bill. I recently saw a sweet post by co-owner Andrea Sundell giving credit to her staff for helping make Stockhome so great, and that is exactly what we found during our visit.

When I asked for bacon to be added to my burger, the young lady did not even bat an eye lash. She double-checked with the kitchen just to make sure they had some to spare and then added bacon to my order. She was not thrown off one bit that it was not one of the listed add ons, nor did she feel compelled to tell me that it would be extra.

I particularly appreciated that point, although I understand there are people out there that need that explained to them. As far as I am concerned, if I am asking to add something that is not listed on the menu, I assume it is going to cost extra. Not only do I not mind, but I do not need to be informed about it. If I am asking for bacon, I also do not care how much extra it is. I have never passed up on bacon due to the price and feel that is a pretty consistent stance among bacon lovers.

Oh, and the fries! The fries vie for possibly being the best in town and have triggered me to start researching a Petaluma French fries guide because many of our other local restaurants also make excellent fries.

We also thoroughly enjoy Stockhome’s beer selection, which is more than just IPAs. Particularly, I like European style beers, especially the Carnegie Porter, which is a Swedish porter. It is lighter in body than our American porters and goes well with food.

Along with new specials, Stockhome has added some outdoor seating, which is a nice touch. And instead of just plastic tables and chairs, they went the extra mile, as they always do, and put something together that is both comfortable and visually pleasing.

To experience Stockhome at a step above even their specials, attend one of their special lunches or dinners. Their recent HenHouse-paired dinner was phenomenal, centering each course around one of HenHouse’s four saison beers.

Upcoming events include the paired dinner add-on to this weekend’s Petaluma Drinks tickets, which will feature Petaluma-specific beer and wine pairings, their Midsummer Feast on Saturday, June 22, with three seatings from noon to 6 p.m. and next month’s paired dinner collaboration with Keller Estates on July 16.

To stay current it is best to subscribe to Stockhome’s email list. The emails are pleasantly infrequent but when they do come they are thoughtful, informative and end up filling up our calendar with great upcoming food events.

Since day one, every meal we have had at Stockhome has been excellent. In comparison to the many other awarded restaurants we have visited in our area and around the world, many of which lack the innovation and consistency of Stockhome, this Michelin Bib Gourmand is well deserved, and I will not be surprised to see more accolades in Stockhome’s future.

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