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3 new eateries, 1 closure, tons of food events in Petaluma

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Wicked Slush is coming to Petaluma. A Boston transplant, Amy Covin opened Wicked Slush in Healdsburg a few years back and became an instant success. People travel from as far away as San Francisco to sample her frozen treats. Well known locals Juliet and Dave Pokorny, and their daughters Miranda and Alexis, hope to open a Petaluma location by May, and look forward to “serving happiness,” as Juliet puts it. They plan to serve a rotating 10 flavors of soft serve and 10 of slushies daily. Knowing the Pokorny family well, I cannot think of a better match of people to product.

Tony’s Seafood has reopened in Marshall and is already receiving rave reviews. First opened in 1948, Hog Island Oysters purchased Tony’s in 2017, but closed it down shortly thereafter so that renovations could take place. Because they wanted to keep its spirit alive, they opted to remodel instead of demolish and rebuild. This meant pulling down all the old wood paneling to restore and refresh it, and put it back in place, instead of the much less costly option of replacing it. They have even kept the old crab cooker out front, although currently it is not operational. With so few dining choices along Tomales Bay, coupled with Hog Island’s hard-earned reputation for quality local food, I predict Tony’s is destine to become a Bay Area favorite again.

Thai Essence will go into the Orchard Supply Hardware shopping center, although I guess we need to come up with a new name for that too as OSH is now closed. Then again, most of us still call River Plaza by its original name of the Golden Eagle Shopping Center, and refer to the Lucky’s on Lakeville as the “new Lucky’s” even though it has been there for a couple of decades now. I guess old habits, and monikers, die hard.

Anyway, Thai Essence is taking over the spot where Lunn Yar Moe just closed down, and promises “mainly organic” and gluten free “healthy delicious Bangkok food.” I am not sure if Petaluma needs another Thai place, what with five already, but as a huge fan of this cuisine, I’ll definitely give them a try.

That leads us into restaurant closings, which obviously includes Lunn Yar Moe. I had heard mixed reviews, with many loving it and others finding it so-so, but I understand the woman who ran it was a real gem, so we wish her the best of luck.

Crocodile will close at the end of this month so get the French-American cuisine while you can. Although crocs have been around for 200 million years, pre-dating even the dinosaurs, Crocodile restaurant lasted roughly 2.5 years. This seems to be a pattern with Theater Square, so I hope the new tenants took a long, hard look at their lease before signing. Rumor has it that an Italian restaurant will take Crocodile’s space, although pulling customers from the downtown’s four excellent Italian options, which include Sugo, Cucina, Risibisi and Volpi’s, will be a tall order.

Part of the same reptilian order, called Crocodylia, it can be noted that all gators are crocs, but not all crocs are gators. I mention this because as soon as Crocodile made their closing announcement, rumors started to spread that Gator’s was also closing, but this simply is not true. So, although Yelp has Gator’s Rustic Burgers food truck listed as closed, his restaurant – Gator’s Rustic Burgers and His Creole Friends – is still alive and kicking with great Louisiana cuisine, and music and dancing if you are lucky to be there at the right time. However, Glenn “Gator” Thompson did report that the restaurant’s name will soon change to Gator’s Bayou and His Creole Friends, in an effort to alleviate some of the confusion.

Foodie events

Pearl has been wowing Petaluma foodies with Eastern Mediterranean breakfasts and lunches, which has fans hungrily curious about what dinner might include. Regulars have asked for it, so owners Annette and Brian, in conjunction with Sonoma County Restaurant Week, will offer dinner for a very limited time. This Thursday through Sunday, March 7 to 10, dinner is served from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The three-course, prix fixe menu is $45, which includes all service fees, so there is no tip on top of that amount. In an effort to minimize waste, it is strongly recommended that guests make advance reservations, including selecting menu items.

Choices for the first course are chopped Israeli salad with radishes, pickled fennel and sumac vinaigrette; or warm za’atar pita, green hummus and beet tzatziki. The second course includes spring vegetable cassoulet, heirloom beans and poached egg; chicken tagine, stewed apricots, couscous and herbed yogurt; Zhoug marinated trout, Agassi rice with red pepper and walnut sauce; or a lamb burger with feta and sweet potato gratin. Dessert is either Moroccan rice pudding, figs and toasted almonds; or spiced ginger cake with poached blood orange, topped with whipped cream.

Sonoma Pho celebrates its one-year anniversary this Saturday, March 9, starting at 1 p.m. with lion dancers at its Theater Square location. Everyone who dines in will get a raffle ticket, with the odds that one in four will be a winner. Prizes include free Boba drinks, appetizers, desserts and gift cards, and at least one VIP discount card, which gives the lucky winner 15 percent off purchases for life.

The Penngrove Social Firemen will hold a Corned Beef and Cabbage Feed this Saturday, March 9, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Penngrove Community Clubhouse featuring corned beef from Bud’s meat, expertly prepared by Stan Pronzini and his kitchen crew. As always, homemade desserts are supplied by the Penngrove 4-H for $1 per plate. Because it’s for a great cause, we usually drop $20 on dessert and treat our whole table - family, friends and strangers. Tickets are available at the door at $15 for adults and $8 for kids under 12. A Pot-O-Gold drawing will award prizes of $50, $100 and $200 Visa gift cards. All proceeds help maintain the Community Clubhouse and Penngrove Park, for the benefit of the community. For information, contact Stanley Pronzini at 217-7161 or Lyndi Brown at 795-1107 or Lyndi@sonic.net.

LaLa’s Jam Bar and Urban Farmstand will hold “Meet the Makers” events every Saturday during March, starting this Saturday, March 9, with free samplings of Carver’s Nut Butters. One of our favorites, Petaluma Toffee, will be in the house on March 16, debuting its Bailey’s Irish Cream Toffee, just in time for St. Paddy’s Day, along with LaLa’s Irish Marmalade, which is the recipe of owner Leslie’s grandmother. March 23 will feature River Road Olive Oil, and on March 30, expect Mariposa Ice Creamery with Barber Cellars’ chocolate zin sauce, paired to perfection. All these makers are usually available for sale at LaLa’s, along with her jams and other local goodies. If you are in search of thoughtful and delicious gifts, consider Leslie’s selection of local handmade treats. lalasjams.com

And just in case there wasn’t already enough to eat on March 9, don’t forget the Petaluma Food, Wine and Craft Beer Festival put on by Petaluma Host Lions Club, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building. There will be approximately 30 local booths, including a very special treat of “Awesome Affogatos,” thanks to the combination of Mariposa Ice Creamery and Sonoma Coast Spirits. The Petaluma, Casa and Tomales high school bands will play throughout the evening. Proceeds help Project Graduation and other local charities. Tickets are available at the door for $40.

The 2019 Petaluma People’s Choice Awards concludes its nominations on March 10, so visit petaluma360.com to vote for your favorites. (Look for the “Find It Fast” link just beneath the header.) The major categories are “Business,” “Food” and “Professionals,” with many options within each. For this nomination round, you can fill in the blank for each of your favorites, from best new restaurant to best plumber to best art gallery. My advice is to think outside the box. There are obvious choices, like The Shuckery, for best seafood. They will surely make the final round of voting, so think of another restaurant where you have had excellent seafood. For us, there is Quinua and Twisted 2. Hallie’s and Sax’s Joint are sure to be part of the finals for best breakfast, but don’t forget places like Pearl. Others are Thai River for excellent vegetarian, Rosen’s 256 North for a bomb burger, and Pub Republic for one of our favorite outdoor patios.

Washoe House will honor St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, March 17, with breakfast until 11 a.m., followed by corned beef and cabbage, with all the fixings, from 11 a.m. to closing time, whenever that might be. The specials will include the corned beef meal for $12, bangers and mash for $10, and green Coors Light on draught for $4. There will also be live music by Brian Baudoin.

Twisted 2 is offering its first ever cooking class on Tuesday, March 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. Chef Julie Warner will demonstrate how to properly cut ahi for sashimi, as well as how to make Asian slaw and poke; and seared prosciutto-wrapped ahi with olive tapenade and Meyer lemon aioli. The cost is $135 per person and includes wine, a light supper and recipes. The class is limited to eight people. Contact twisted2info@gmail.com to make a reservations.

New menus and chefs

Brewsters has added the former head chef of The Drawing Board to its kitchen, which is great news. Chef Kevin Katsolis is one of our favorites in town because of his gentle touch when it comes to mixing unique ingredients. We look forward to his influence on the menu. That being said, Brewsters has been knocking it out of the park recently with the brisket and the carrots, which are the two items we always order.

Coastal Kitchen, Brewsters’ sister restaurant out in Dillon Beach, has captured some local talent. First, chef Matthew Elias and general manager Laine Ayre, of the Bodega-CA food truck, are now leading the charge at Coastal Kitchen. This means a few new menu items, including, most excitedly, the Bodega fried chicken sandwich and the Stemple Creek burger. We have had both many times at the teal food truck and look forward to enjoying them yet again in the serene setting of Coastal Kitchen’s enclosed back patio, which overlooks the beach and ocean.

Rosen’s 256 North also has some new menu items, including new cocktails and more Keto-friendly choices. From shrimp salad on sliced cucumber to the egg salad Cristina, with smoked salmon capers to Buffalo cauliflower, there are plenty of options at 256 North for those with dietary challenges. The “Customer Favorite Wings” are also back on the happy hour menu.

FYI

Service fees seem to have popped up again on Sauced’s receipts. After running this by the Petaluma Foodies Facebook group, it appears that several other downtown restaurants are also adding fees to the bill to help subsidize the costs of business. I have no objection to paying restaurant staff a living wage, because they work hard to make sure we have excellent experiences, which is why it is not unusual for us to leave a 30 percent tip. However, I do take issue when service fees are not presented in an up-front manner. For the record, I prefer how Pearl handles the billing. Everything, including the tip, is included in the price you see on the menu. Not only is this transparent pricing, but as odd as it may seem, their prices are still quite reasonable, especially considering the quality for food and service provided to the guests.

Save the date

Cowgirl Creamery has several upcoming events in its Community Dinners at the Barn series. Upcoming dates are March 20 and April 24. The March dinner has the theme of “Start of Spring” and will feature a presentation by West Marin painter and ceramicist Susan Hall. April’s dinner will feature Tamara Hicks, who will talk about her experience operating and owning local Toluma Farms and Tomales Farmstead Creamery. Dinner is $55 per person, which for a Cowgirl Creamery event, is well worth it. The menus will be announced shortly, but its worth getting tickets soon, as these family-style dinners of seasonal ingredients always sell out quickly. cowgirlcreamery.com

Sips and Bites is a special food and drink event being held at the Petaluma Woman’s Club on Sunday, April 7. I will have more details next time, but you will want to mark your calendar now because the list of vendors is sure to offer an impressive taste of what’s available in and around Petaluma. petalumawomansclub.com

Wind & Rye of Penngrove has announced its spring 2019 lineup of classes, including “Baking Basics” (March 10), “Adult Cake Decorating” (March 16), “Cooking with Mushrooms” (March 31), “Nourishing the Family” (April 11), “Spring Ferments and Pickles” (April 14), “Elevated Stocks and Bone Broths” (May 1), “Pizza from Scratch” (May 26), and two “Date Night” classes (April 17 and May 5.) For more information, visit windandrye.com.

The 2019 Butter and Egg Days Parade is looking for volunteers for the Saturday, April 27, festivities. Volunteers help with everything from staging the parade to carrying banners during the parade to working in the beer booths. Teams of 10 or more will get their logo printed on the back of their parade T-shirts, so collect up your friends, family, or co-workers and contact Kathy at either kahty@visitpetaluma.com or 762-9348. For parade entry or booth information visit PetalumaDowntown.com.

Petaluma Pie Company’s Piku Contest is back in celebration of Pi Day, which, of course, is March 14 (3.14). Contestants can enter in person or online with the deadline set for March 14. Winners will be announced on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Prizes will range from gift cards to coffee to shirts. “Write a haiku about pi, the number, the food or both. The format is three lines: five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables.” Learn more at petalumapiecompany.com. For inspiration, Rene Foppe, a longtime community volunteer, shared one of her past Pi Day entrees: “Radius and pi, Circle area to find, Sans a slice for me!”