Without a doubt, one of the biggest restaurant openings of 2016 was SingleThread.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Healdsburg, SingleThread opened their doors on December 2, 2016 and is unlike any other restaurant in California for numerous reasons. First, the restaurant has an inn where there are five beautifully crafted contemporary guest rooms upstairs. They also have their very own farm of five acres, 10 minutes from the restaurant, between the Russian River and San Lorenzo Ranch. SingleThread Farms contains everything from a greenhouse, chicken coops, an heirloom fruit orchard, olive trees, and bee hives. Therefore, the farm supplies not only vegetables, fruits, and herbs for the restaurant but also honey, eggs, and olive oil.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, we entered a small lobby with a window where you can see into the kitchen. Typically, guests are escorted upstairs to their roof deck garden but since it was pouring rain, we waited patiently in the lobby where we enjoyed some hot apple cider and watched the chefs do their magic.
After our hot apple cider, we were accompanied to the dining room. The restaurant itself was one of the most elegant and beautiful spaces I’ve ever seen.
When we arrived at our table, there was an elaborate table setting awaiting us with various canapés. This was the first part of our tasting menu and we also decided to split a wine pairing to go with our meal.
This was an exquisite presentation of carefully crafted dishes. A few canapés that really stood out included the silky smooth house made tofu with creamy uni and the celery root dish that showcased the vegetable in its purest form. This was a fun interactive way to start the meal.
We had a few more small dishes before we started the tasting menu.
This was my least favorite dish of the night. While I enjoy sawara (Spanish mackerel), this simply lacked seasoning. I could barely taste the barrel aged ponzu sauce on the fish and the cara cara orange frozen pulp was a strange textural combination with the sawara. Overall this dish was a miss for me. However for this dish, a sake was paired with it and we were able to choose our own ceramic cup which was a fun experience.
This was a true showcase of sunchoke. Slightly charred and tender inside, the sweet earthiness of the sunchoke went perfectly with the mangalitsa jowl. Mangalitsa pigs are one of the tastiest due to their creamy marbled fat, basically the Kobe beef of pork. With a touch a preserved tangy lemon and crunchy pine nuts, this was a tasty comforting dish.
For some reason when I saw this, I was expecting it to be sweet because it looked like sweet stuffed wafers. However, it was completely savory with a tart persimmon filling with the black sesame paste that added a toasted flavor.
The steelhead trout was cooked perfectly (tender and luscious) in a donabe smoker (ibushi gin), a traditional Japanese clay cooking vessel. The fish was dressed with a shio koji (salt and malted rice) vinaigrette topped with briny trout roe and myoga (Japanese ginger).
It’s hard not to love foie gras when it’s fatty, luxurious, and creamy. The foie gras torchon was placed on top of a spiced sablé (thin pastry) with fresh herbs, a sweet prune purée, and earthy rooibos tea gel. While I liked the dish, it wasn’t the best foie gras dish I’ve ever had.
Once again, perfectly cooked turbot with an assortment of beautiful vibrant vegetables. I’m a huge fan of brassicas, a family of vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, turnips, brussels sprouts, and more, that complimented the flaky fish. A touch of the sansho pepper (Japanese pepper from the kinome plant) added a light sweet spice with a tingling sensation.
The guinea hen was juicy and moist with a golden crispy crust served with a silky blood orange sauce. The charred radicchio and endive added a pleasant bitterness that complimented the sweetness of the meat. Also for this dish we were able to pick out our own knife (Bloodroot Blades) where the handles are made with wood from the farm and the blades are forged from a 1968 Volkswagen. Pretty sweet.
This was the final savory course, a rich intense consommé with various grains, tempura fried mustard blossoms, and fresh herbs. A nice warm dish to finish off the savory dishes.
This was a refreshing palate cleanser after the savory dishes. The ponderosa lemon, a hybrid of citron and lemon, was made into a granité which had the texture of powered ice. Very light and airy. Underneath the granité were tart segments of juicy grapefruit and small tapioca balls that added that chewy jelly consistency.
This was a thoughtful dessert truly inspired by hearty winter flavors. The roasted sweet potato had a depth of intense flavor that paired so nicely with the velvety chicory ice cream.
This was a superb presentation of petit fours after a wonderful meal.
The attention to detail at SingleThread is beyond impressive from the gorgeous ambience to beautiful flatware and cutlery to impeccable service. While all these factors were outstanding, I felt that none of the dishes really wowed me in the sense of trying something new and exciting. After trying numerous extraordinary restaurants, it becomes harder to be blown away. While the dishes were expertly crafted with perfect technique and stunning presentation, none of the flavors were something I hadn’t tried before. I understand that the restaurant has only been open for a little over a month so creating an over ambitious menu would not be bright. I believe that SingleThread will only get better with time and I look forward to seeing their growth as a restaurant. Therefore, my overall rating is an 8/10.