Lagunitas Beer Circus is this Saturday, Sept. 8, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Petaluma Fairgrounds. Last year’s circus was cancelled due to the fires, but Lagunitas still donated $18,500 to the Phoenix Theater, which is the beneficiary of this year’s event. Admission is $40 and entitles revelers to a variety of shows, surprise performances and an incredible costume contest. The event is 21 and over, with food and beer options available for purchase. Tickets are available at either Lagunitas’ website or on Eventbrite.com.
Wind & Rye Kitchen of Penngrove has announced its fall classes, which include “Home Remedies: Fire Cider and Elderberry Syrup” (Sept. 13), “Fall Ferments and Pickles” (Sept. 19), “Sophisticated Sauces” (Oct. 3) and “Elevated Stocks and Bone Broths” (Oct. 4.) Farther out into the fall, classes include “Kids Cake Decorating,” “Homemade Halloween Treats for Kids” and “Nourishing The Family.” windandrye.com.
Speaking of Wind & Rye, its first anniversary dinner is set for Oct. 14 and will be limited to just 35 guests, so I wanted to give readers plenty of advanced notice. The event starts with a farm tour at 4 p.m., cocktails and hors d’oeuvre at 5 p.m., and a dinner, prepared by chef/owner Daniel Kedan of Forestville’s Backyard Restaurant, starting at 6 p.m. Pastry chef and Wind & Rye Kitchen owner Laci Sandoval will pair wines and present dessert. Tickets are $140 and are available at windandrye.com.
Thistle Meats’ “Sunday Supper” series returns on Sept. 16 with Thistle’s owner/chef Travis Day hosting guest chef George Meza of Onsen, San Francisco for a six course meal, with optional wine pairing from Dutton Goldfield Winery. Because Thistle keeps their menu ultra-seasonal, it isn’t usually released until right before the dinner, but is always a culinary delight. We attended a Thistle Meats and Barber Cellars collaboration earlier this year and it was excellent. Seating is limited, and at $85 (plus $35 for wine) it will sell out fast. thistlemeats.com.
Chicken Pharm has closed up its coop. Having only opened in November 2017, this is a quick closing, and the third in Petaluma for San Diego-based Patio Group, which shuttered Harvest recently, which was located next to Gator’s. I have no doubt that the restaurant group is doing just fine, but simply knows when to call it quits. I give them props for not wasting time when they see their properties are not producing.
I also give them credit for really trying to fit in to Petaluma. They went out of their way to study up on the Petaluma dining scene prior to opening, even reaching out to ask local diners what kind of restaurant they’d like to see. And they made quick adjustments to diners’ concerns, although the biggest issue for many was having to order at the counter.
An interesting juxtaposition to Chicken Pharm seems to be the instant success of Stockhome. Both restaurants have a clean modern design. Both offer a menu unlike any other local restaurant. Both used the same local P.R. company, and both did not have table service. The key difference, as I see it, other than the fact that Stockhome offers excellent food and Chicken Pharm’s was just good, is that Stockhome’s owners are present. As you have heard me say repeatedly, many Petalumans put a lot of value in an owner presence, in large part because that means issues can be address immediately. Additionally, I believe Petalumans simply prefer to support businesses that are locally owned. Speculation abounds as to whether the Patio Group will simply rebrand Chicken Pharm and try again, or stay closed for good, but as of this writing, I have received no response to my inquiries. My understanding is that they own the old Tuttle Drugs building, so it will be interesting to see what route they take moving forward.