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Topsy’s a downtown Petaluma mainstay

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Since it’s opening in 2014, Topsy’s Kitchen, a lovely downtown restaurant, has been pleasing guests with a menu primarily focused on breakfast and lunch. During the summer months they do serve dinner on the weekends as well, and when I spoke to Topsy on a recent visit, she said they plan to start dinners again in June.

Topsy’s is a casual but upscale restaurant with very high ceilings, and décor that invites one to relax and enjoy the setting as well as the service and the food. There are many thoughtful touches throughout, such as fresh flowers and original art. I love their sayings on the giant chalkboard on the way to the restrooms.

They also have a lovely outdoor seating area that is a hot ticket on any nice day in Petaluma. Set back from the sidewalk and nicely enclosed, one is afforded a great opportunity for people watching on Kentucky Street — one of the two main shopping streets in downtown.

The servers were very attentive, and all orders were delivered correctly and promptly. When we asked questions, we found the servers to be very knowledgeable of the menu preparations.

Estelle “Topsy” Rand is the owner, proprietor, and all around presence in this locally run restaurant that specializes in American food from many places. In a nod to the South, you will find perfectly prepared Beignets as a starter at breakfast. Do not miss these. In New Orleans you would order them for breakfast with a huge cup of café au lait. At Topsy’s they are offered as a starter, warm from the fryer and liberally dusted with strawberry preserves. What a lovely way to start the day.

Another specialty that speaks to what Topsy likes to call their “California Farmhouse Cuisine” and everyone else calls delicious is their buttermilk fried chicken, served up as a Chicken Plate ($16.50), chicken and waffles ($15), a fried chicken sandwich with jalapeno-vegetable slaw ($14) and a crunchy chicken salad ($14.75). American comfort food clearly dominates the lunch menu. We tried the chicken and waffles the last time we were in, and it did not disappoint. Shatteringly crisp chicken and an equally crispy waffle with an abundance of maple syrup — it was delicious.

Chef/Owner Annie Simmons cooks everything from scratch using the fresh local ingredients we are so fortunate to have available here in Petaluma. I enjoyed the local organic eggs, scrambled and served on top of crisp chilaquiles ($13.50). Chilaquiles are crispy corn tortillas baked with jalapeno ranchero sauce and jack cheese. Here they are topped with the eggs, queso fresco, Mexican crema and sliced avocado. It was not at all spicy, but very tasty.

Topsy’s grilled cheese panini ($12.50) of Fontina, cheddar and Jack cheeses was served with a cup of soup of the day, in this case a lovely cream of exotic mushroom. My husband is always eying the burger on just about any menu, so he chose the Roadside Burger ($14.50) of California grass fed beef. His choice was to have it with house made pimento cheese, sweet pickles, bacon-onion jam, all served on a sesame-brioche bun. The accompanying housemade potato chips were just perfect, not greasy, but expertly fried to a crisp.

One of our guests chose Topsy’s Croque Madame ($13.75) an open-faced sandwich of smoked ham, béchamel and melting fontina cheese topped with an over-easy egg, and served on organic salad greens.

Do not miss trying the onion dip ($7), which is caramelized, roasted onions in a creamy dip served with housemade potato chips. There is one word for this starter: addictive.

For dessert we tried one each of the very large cookies, a ginger molasses that was chewy and spicy, and a chocolate chunk-sea salt cookie. We also ordered a slice of their chocolate cake of the day, a Bundt-style cake filled with cheesecake filling and iced with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. The desserts were my least favorite part of the meal — not bad but not as good as they could be, since both the chocolate chunk cookie and the cake were a bit on the dry side.

Topsy’s offers a nice range of beverages, from juices and freshly-made lemonade, Taylor Maid Farms Coffees, cane-sugar Coca-Cola and Spindrift Sparkling Waters, local beers on draft and other beers in bottles, a list of local wines by the glass and bottle, and some celebratory brunch drinks such as Peach Bellini Mimosa ($10) and a Bacon Bloody Mary ($12) so there is something for everyone.

When the restaurant is not serving their regular breakfast and lunch meals, they are available for private functions, and also offer off-premise catering through Topsy’s Catering.

The entire restaurant is accessible. It is located in the heart of downtown, but very close to the parking garage on Keller Street where parking is free every day. Please note that their website contains two different sets of information about the days they are open. I hope they will correct that soon to eliminate the confusion; they are open Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.