Get ready for a memorable time at Goodnight’s steakhouse located in Downtown Healdsburg. Sink your teeth into a succulent 42-ounce Tomahawk steak, explore their extensive collection of whiskeys or quaff a glass of Sonoma red and relax.
Goodnight’s Prime Steak + Spirits is guided by the culinary expertise of Executive Chef David Lawrence from Fillmore 1300 and Black Bark BBQ in San Francisco. We interview Chef to learn more about his modern take on Western-style dining.
What’s the story behind Goodnight’s name?
ExecutiveChef David Lawrence: Charles Goodnight, our restaurant’s namesake, was not only a Texas Ranger and cattle rancher, but a literal and figurative trailblazer. He was constantly innovating and experimenting with ways to make life and work better. He even invented the chuck wagon to better take care of his crew during cattle drives.
At the restaurant, we strive to take the same approach. There are elements of both the menu and design that echo back to the rugged pioneer that Charles Goodnight was, but we also look forward to the latest technologies and innovations.
What are some of your popular menu offerings?
ExecutiveChef David Lawrence: Our signature dish is the 42oz Tomahawk. It’s a very shareable 10” bone in cut of ribeye meat, ideal for 3-4 people. Sometimes people challenge themselves to eat it alone. I have seen four people succeed. The trick is to eat the steak first, and then sides if you still have room.
Other must-try menu items include our 25oz Bone in Ribeye, Japanese A5 wagyu, House made Parker and House Rolls with Cultured Butter. The Ahi Tuna Tartare with avocado, sesame seed tuiles, whiskey barrel aged shoyu, fried capers, preserve lemons is also delicious.
Is your restaurant location ideal for folks taking a trip to wine country?
Chef David Lawrence: Goodnights Prime Steak + Spirits is in Healdsburg with all its great wineries surrounding this beautiful town. There is not another steak house within 6-7 miles. So, it is ideally situated for you to enjoy a day of wine tasting, and then pair your great wine purchase with a great steak.
What’s the setting at Goodnights?
Chef David Lawrence: We strive to be that place where you feel comfortable and at ease, but still enjoy an upscale dining experience worth repeating. It is an upscale western design with a lively environment that includes a hidden bar and open kitchen.
How do you integrate the seasons of Sonoma into your dishes?
Chef David Lawrence: Our menu is based around utilizing seasonal produce, so it naturally mimics the seasonality of Sonoma at any given point. For example, our Corn Bisque that we served this summer was changed out for a Butternut Squash Soup for the fall and winter.
Where do you get your produce?
Chef David Lawrence: We get a fair amount of our produce from Chalk Hill Farm, which is often featured in our daily specials. Goodnight’s Prime Steak + Spirits and Chalk Hill Estate Winery are sister companies. This connection affords us the opportunity to work really closely with the team there. As we head into the spring, we’ll be able to collaborate with the gardeners and have some input on what’s planted to increase what we are able to utilize from there.
Is your selection of bourbons robust?
Chef David Lawrence: We pride ourselves in having one of the most extensive bourbon selections around, with options from Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as some local and international whisky selections. We currently have nearly 100 labels for our guests to choose from.
Talk about your exciting cocktail program.
Chef David Lawrence: We have a creative, out-of-the-box cocktail program utilizing local ingredients and spirits. Our overall approach is to take those classic cocktails and put our own twist on them.
Does your wine list reflect the Sonoma area?
Chef David Lawrence: We currently have a growing, exciting wine list that expresses and features all things Sonoma, but also includes options from other regions, so we’re able to offer options for all tastes and palettes
Tell us about your culinary journey?
Chef David Lawrence: I started my culinary journey at a steakhouse called the Village Inn in Stanmore, London, England. While at culinary school, I joined the Roux Brothers restaurant group. In my 5 years working for them, I spent 2 years at their famous, and at the time the only, 3-star Michelin restaurant in London called Le Gavroche.
After a vacation in San Francisco, I decided to come back to work in the Bay Area, where I opened several restaurants, including my own restaurants 1300 on Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ. I move up to wine country in 2018 and opened Goodnight’s Prime Steak + Spirits earlier this year. I have written articles for Bon Appetite Magazine, and produced my own TV show on Hulu and Disney.
How do you describe your overall cooking philosophy?
Chef David Lawrence: My cooking philosophy has always begin to cook within the seasons and with as many local ingredients as possible. Living in California, we are very lucky to have access to the best locally grown produce year-round.
Why are you passionate about being a chef?
Chef David Lawrence: My passion for being a chef and cooking comes from my father, who was also a chef. I started cooking from the early age of 13 years old. I cooked at home and at school in home economics. My first TV chef hero was Graham Kirr of the Galloping Gourmet TV show. My mentor was Albert Roux of the Roux Restaurant Group in London England.