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Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant exterior.

My Fine Dining Experience at Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville, Sonoma County

By Published On: April 2nd, 2024

A taste of fifth-generation farming at your table.

Sonoma County’s Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant has been among the most luxurious high-end dining and lodging options in Northern California for decades. With Chef Craig Wilmer at the helm of fine dining, right now it’s at the top of its game.

Early girl tomato, curry leaf and royal osetra served at Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.
Early girl tomato, curry leaf and royal osetra. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

Chef’s offering is a six-course menu ($275 per person) with wine pairing ($150 per person) available Thursday through Monday between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. You don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy the onsite restaurant, a longtime cornerstone of the property.

This is an experience of a lifetime. 

Chef putting the finishing touch on a dish. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

If you love food and wine and pretty places, as well as leaving a meal perfectly satiated instead of barely able to move, this Farmhouse Restaurant tasting menu is worth every penny. Here’s a look at the menu I experienced during my winter 2024 visit.

Amuse: 

Tartlet of Ishigaki Dai and wagyu beef tartare, dressed in Kinome oil, chive, caper berries

Dungeness crab in spruce tip and seaweed oil

Croustade of Mount Lassen trout, calamansi emulsion and smoked trout roe

Croustade of Mount Lassen trout. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

FIRST: 

Fish Soup: Dungeness crab balls, bound with scallop mousse, Bodega Bay potato and daikon balls, lovage and white pepper.

SECOND

Shima-Aji and Zeppo beets with crispy Ogo, horseradish espuma and an apple sorrel cream

THIRD

Abalone with braised chard, smoked Osetra Caviar, mimetic abalone shell, and a broth of fermented kohlrabi and potato skins

FOURTH

Flounder with root vegetable scales, with a beurre blanc made with Rangpur limes, bergamot, mandarinquat, Palestine sweet limes, etrog and key limes

Flounder with root vegetable scales. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

FIFTH

Koginut squash noodles served with an aerated cabbage potage, candied pecans and Perigord truffles

SIXTH

Imperial Wagyu: Striploin grilled over coals with sauce of young ginger and veal jus, served with first of the season sprouting broccoli and spring onions

Pre-Dessert:

Brokaw kiwi sorbet with a yuzu-yogurt mousse and candied buddha hand

SEVENTH

Apple Mooncake: Carmel apple compote wrapped in laminated pastry, served with a burnt cinnamon caramel sauce and a Madagascar vanilla ice cream

Pairing highlights: 

Sake, Champagne, Shared Notes Les Leçons des Maîtres Sauvignon Blanc, Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Radio-Coteau Harrison Grade Syrah

A Family Legacy with Deep Sonoma County Roots

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant is run by fifth-generation Russian River Valley farmers Joe and Catherine Bartolomei (brother and sister) in partnership with the Foley Family – through the Foley Entertainment Group. Their fine dining restaurant is locally beloved very much due to its showcasing of Sonoma County ingredients and wines. The tasting menus are built around seasonality and thus change regularly.

Joe and Catherine Bartolomei at Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.
Joe and Catherine Bartolomei. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

Chef Wilmer

Chef Wilmer is Bay Area-raised as well, with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, where he completed a concentration in farm-to-table practices. After furthering his learning abroad in France, Denmark and Spain, he worked at top-tier spots Petit Crenn and COI in San Francisco.

Chef presenting dish. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

Wilmer took over after the retirement of longtime Chef Steve Litke, who had spent nearly 21 years at Farmhouse, earning 14 Michelin stars during his tenure, in addition to nods as one of the World’s Best 36 Food Destinations, Best Restaurants in America, Top 100 Restaurants in America, Top 10 Culinary Country Inns and America’s Most Romantic Restaurants.

30 day dry aged Masami ranch striploin, sauce of young ginger, pickle. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

Pastry Chef Amanda Hoang

With him in the kitchen, Amanda Hoang is the executive pastry chef. She also grew up in the Bay Area and attended UC Davis to study clinical nutrition but then shifted to cooking, working at Cyrus and the French Laundry before coming to Farmhouse, where her focus on fruit is encouraged.

Apple Moon cake. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

Wine Director

Wine Director Jared Hooper has won Best of Award of Excellence accolades from Wine Spectator. He came to Farmhouse from Barndiva in nearby Healdsburg after directing the wine program at Faith and Flower in Los Angeles and Hakkasan in Beverly Hills.

Selection of wine. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

Dining Room

The dining room itself is a simple space, eloquent and timeless, but an appropriate canvas for the culinary journey they provide. “The space does not compete, it does not outshine,” said Joe Bartolomei. “But where we really shine is the team that we have, both front of the house and back of the house, that go the extra mile for every guest, every table, every night. We strive to be the best and every single member of our little restaurant family believes in what we’re doing.”

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant dining room.
Dining Room. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

Sustainability

At Farmhouse, a commitment to sustainability works well with Chef Wilmer’s vision. Local produce is sourced from local growers; local pigs, lambs and turkeys are raised by Bartolomei’s family. Kitchen waste goes to the flock of chickens on site, who provide the eggs used for cooking. Herbs and edible flowers abound in both the landscaping and on the menus.

Chef Wilmer in garden at Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.
Chef Wilmer in the garden. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

“As a farmer, sustainability is an everyday practice to make sure the land remains fertile for generations of farming. It’s not trendy it’s absolutely critical for survival. The ethos of Sonoma County is built on the back of our farmers and farming community. We pride ourselves on being good stewards of the land,” said Bartolomei.

Experience the Culinary Magic 

Put it all together – world-class talent with Sonoma County-grown ingredients – and this is one of the best tasting menus in existence right now, and Wilmer is a soon-to-be-discovered star. 

Ivy covered sign. Photo Courtesy: Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant.

Why? Because the menu is inventive, unexpected and despite its multitude of courses, balanced in approach. This is not a meal you leave feeling overstuffed. Your senses will be overindulged in every best sense of the word, but not to the point of excess or gluttony. Everything is in proportion, with no tricks or over-the-top red herrings that distract from the essential spirit of each dish, resulting in a true capture of crisp, focused flavors. 

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