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Tip of My Tongue: New distillery tasting room downtown? Plus unique foodie events coming to Petaluma

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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.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

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.

The William Tell House, Marin’s oldest saloon, has just re-opened under the guidance of new owner and food entrepreneur Ted Wilson. This site was first leased by Clover Stornetta Dairy co-founder and Swiss immigrant Arnold W. Dado in 1869, was re-named for the Swiss folk hero William Tell in 1897. From 1903-89 it was run for three generations by the Matteris/Bonini family, before passing hands a couple times, finally ending up with Wilson earlier this year. The new chef is Petaluma-native Austin Perkins, who formerly a sous chef at Nick’s Cove and Healdsburg’s Cyrus, so he knows about seasonal ingredients and local sourcing. “Selecting daily from local famers and purveyors, the menu features new items such as Liberty duck chili to standards such as Tomales Bay cioppino.” The restaurant is currently open for lunch and dinner, but will close down for renovations this fall and winter, with plans to reopen in spring. williamtellhouse.com.

Road Butler, the restaurant delivery service, is currently up for sale because the owner’s fulltime school schedule is cutting into its availability. Road Butler has a great reputation, so for anyone looking to run their own business, check out their Facebook page for more info and to reach the owner with any inquiries.

Quickly USA has opened in River Plaza shopping center, also known as the Golden Eagle shopping center to those who grew up here. The simple signs in the window prior to their opening, with cartoon drink cups with the word “Quickly” on them, didn’t give me much of an idea of what they do, so I quickly checked online. Although their website is terrible, including such “Diary & History” entries as, “2011: We are keep growing with new stores opening up acrossing the country,” I have gathered that they are a drink shop, offering slushies, milkshakes and bubble tea, which is also known as boba tea. Created in Taiwan in the mid-1980s “bubble tea” comes with chewy tapioca balls, which are also known as pearls or boba.

Barber Lee Spirits appears to be moving into the old Mike’s Glass building, on Washington Street just across the alley from Barber Cellar’s tasting room, located in Hotel Petaluma. Having purchased quite a few bottles of Barber’s very limited bottling of single malt Rye whiskey, I suspected this was a new venture from the same folks, and sure enough, a check of barberleespirits.com confirms it. I don’t know whether their license is for production, sales or sampling, but let’s hope it leads Petaluma to its first downtown spirit tasting room.

New hours

Anna’s Seafood is now open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., which means you can now get the area’s best seafood all weekend long, at 1370 Redwood Way (cross street – Old Redwood Highway.)

Simply Strudel and accompanying Wake Up Coffee House, have posted updated hours too. They are now open from 6 a.m. to noon weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.(ish) on weekends. Serving Petaluma Coffee and Tea and Simply Strudel’s excellent sweet and savory strudels from their shop at the corner of Petaluma Boulevard South and H Street, across from Charley’s Wine Country Deli, the 1,400 followers on Facebook is evidence that this tiny dynamic duo is well worth the visit.

Tasty miscellaneous

Petaluma’s 12 Nights of Dining is a raffle fundraiser for COTS (Committee on the Shelterless). First prize is a $2,400 value, and includes 12 dinners, donated by Rosen’s 256 North, Sugo Trattoria, Pub Republic, The Shuckery, Speakeasy, Wild Goat Bistro, Della Fattoria, Volpi’s, Cucina Paradiso, Central Market, Risibisi and Red Brick. Second prize is a $450 value with restaurants including Taps, Aqus Café, Topsy’s, Brewsters Beer Garden, Mi Pueblo and Pearl. Third prize is a $300 value with meals from Sax’s Joint, Hallie’s Diner, Boulevard Café, Tea Room Café, Water Street Bistro and Wishbone. Tickets are available at Century 21 Bundesen until Oct. 4, with the drawing held the next day. 12nightsofdining.com

In case you missed it

Tickets for the Petaluma Sunrise Rotary Oysterfest are selling fast, and will sell out well ahead of the Saturday, Sept. 29 all-you-can-eat raw and barbecue oyster festival. Held in the side yard of co-sponsor Bodega Bay Oyster Company’s Bodega Highway location, this is one of the best low-key food fundraiser we attend all year. Admission includes fresh oysters, restaurant quality seafood pasta, fabulous French bread, Caesar salad, delicious desserts and, for those over 21, fresh brewed beer from HenHouse and a variety of sparkling and still wines. Willow and Hound will return to provide live music and raffle tickets will be available for a chance to win prizes donated by our generous merchant community. Search Petaluma Oyster Fest on Eventbrite.com for tickets, which are $60 each. Proceeds for this fundraiser will help fund a variety of local Rotary community projects and the Rotary Fire Relief Fund for our neighbors displaced by the recent fires.