Secret Sonoma County – Underwood Bar & Bistro

Underwood-Bar-BistroFor most people Sonoma County means wine. In that is not a bad thing to be known for. After Portland, Sonoma is my second favorite wine region. It is totally laid back, the city itself was the US’s first official “slow city” and I have enjoyed every moment I have spent there. But Sonoma County is full of things to do, go or eat that have nothing to do with wine.

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The Sonoma Coast is gorgeous. Plenty of things to do there which I think I will leave for a future post. The interior of the county has really interesting and quirky places to visit. Like Graton.

The original downtown of Graton is one street with one-stop sign/stoplight. Up until the 1970s, it was a king in the apple industry. The town thrived on dry-farmed Gravenstein apple production until it couldn’t compete with cheaper crops from Washington state and the Central Valley. Then in the 1980s wineries took over the apple processing buildings. [Here is a great New York Times article on the apple if you are interested.]

But if you are out and about in Sonoma County and you encounter Graton and its one street, you’ll see there is a coffee shop, a cafe and Underwood Bar & Bistro. If you blink you might miss it. If you do, turnaround. Underwood is a hidden gem and worth the drive to find.

Mr. Misadventures and I didn’t find the restaurant on our own. We were invited by friends. The wife grew up in wine country so she knows these under the radar spots. We meet every couple of months always at a restaurant where we catch up and share stories about travel and food.

On this particular day this past month we arrived early. Having not eaten breakfast we were a little famished so we sat in the bar and ordered a beer (from the local Russian River brewery). Then the bartender suggested we tried their sriracha fries to go with the beer. Put anything with sriracha and I am game! All the food we ate for lunch was really good, but it is the fries I am still thinking about!

Underwood-Sriracha-Fries

The chef spends several months in Thailand a year and cooks with a French influence but overall the menu is about fresh food, in season served in small plates for friends to share. And that is exactly what we did. Like this heirloom tomato salad.

Underwood-Heirloom-Tomatoes

And this roasted beet salad.

Underwood-Beet-Salad

And this white anchovy crostini which got us talking about sardines…

Underwood-Sardines

This seared Tombo tuna plate with red chile sauce, avocado, creme fraiche, cilantro, pumpkin seed, and roasted pasilla vinaigrette was the only thing I didn’t love. It was okay, but I thought the combination was a bit strange.

Underwood-Tuna

Mr. Misadventures wanted to lick the plate on these clams with serrano ham, tomatoes, white wine, piquillo pepper, and anchovy butter.

Underwood-Clams

I stay away from anything with a lot of onions (it gives me migraines) but I didn’t enjoy the one serving of flatbread with caramelized onion, blue cheese walnut, and sage.

Underwood-Flatbread All washed down with more local beer and good friends. Can’t ask for more.

I am not sure how much longer Graton is going to be “secret.” A casino is opening up near the offramp that leads to Graton, maybe that will revitalize the businesses down there, but I am not sure the end justifies the means… I am just glad I got to enjoy Underwood Bar & Bistro and I hope you get a chance too.

How about you? Have you discovered a hidden gem near (or not so near) your home?

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Underwood Bar & Bistro - Graton Sonoma County California USAUnderwood Bar & Bistro - Graton Sonoma County California USAUnderwood Bar & Bistro - Graton Sonoma County California USA

28 Comments

  1. Murissa
    November 12, 2013

    Delicious!
    A tapas bar just opened in my city but it has been so packed and hard to get in that I have yet to test it out. It also features beer and is called MicroBites.

    Reply
  2. Nena Sinclair
    November 15, 2013

    The food looks amazing! I have never heard of harissa before, though, what is it?

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 15, 2013

      @Nena, it is a Tunisian hot chili sauce or powder.

      Reply
  3. Kayla
    November 15, 2013

    these foods look delicious

    Reply
  4. ginette4
    November 15, 2013

    You did a great job at making me hungry, wow those dishes sure look inviting, If I ever visit the area I will definitely stop in and eat!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 15, 2013

      @Ginette, you should!

      Reply
  5. Debra Holloway
    November 15, 2013

    Looking at all this food has really given me an appetite. It all looks delicious. I would definitely like to visit this restaurant and eat there.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 15, 2013

      @Debra, hope you get there one day!

      Reply
  6. Wanda Tracey
    November 15, 2013

    I think you did a splendid job of photographing this divine assortment of foods.It was nice that you got to share each little dish and have a sample of everything.It all looks really sumptuous especially the harissa fries.Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Reply
  7. Shakeia Rieux
    November 16, 2013

    The food looks delicious

    Reply
  8. Katie @ Domestiphobia.net
    November 17, 2013

    Sigh. The life. Those fries look incredible, but I’m not sure I could handle the heat!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 17, 2013

      @Katie, harissa isn’t spicy, although with that fiery red color it looks like it! My hubby can’t eat spicy (his one flaw!) and he ate these.

      Reply
  9. Katie @ Domestiphobia.net
    November 17, 2013

    Good to know! I had a recipe that called for harissa once and couldn’t find it anywhere. One substitute I saw suggested was sriracha, so I used that, and so I assumed harissa was spicy too. I’m trying to get better about spicy food by forcing myself to eat it more and more, but I’m still pretty much a wimp. 🙂

    Reply
  10. CARRIE
    November 21, 2013

    looks yummy

    Reply
  11. Sheetal Vastani
    November 21, 2013

    aaaaaaah those fries look soooo good!! MY mouth is watering.. or is it on fire?
    hmm.. sriracha fries trick question 🙂

    Reply
  12. Heather
    November 23, 2013

    They all look delicious! Great chef who’s willing to travel & incorporate different types of food into their menu!

    Reply
  13. Colleen Boudreau
    November 25, 2013

    Everything looks so yummy!

    Reply
  14. Adriana Gonzalez
    November 25, 2013

    #2

    Reply
  15. alicia k (Petite Pilates Pixie)
    November 26, 2013

    wow those fries look amazing!!

    Reply
  16. alena svetelska
    December 2, 2013

    those meals looks so inviting and delicious..fries looks so yum;-)

    Reply
  17. Michael Lambert
    December 14, 2013

    These recipes look really good, would love to try some of these.

    Reply
  18. Veronica Lee
    December 15, 2013

    OMG! I am drooling as I’m typing this! The food looks soooooooooo gooood!!

    Reply
  19. Shannon
    January 21, 2014

    So jealous! I love Thai food, I make a pizza like that often…so good.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      January 22, 2014

      @Shannon, it was really unique to do a fusion of Thai this way, the combo was great!

      Reply
  20. Kevin
    January 22, 2014

    This looks like a GREAT place to check out!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      January 22, 2014

      @Kevin, it is definitely a hidden gem.

      Reply
  21. Jenn Erin
    October 16, 2014

    Oh my goodness, everything looks amazing!! I would love to try those sriracha fries!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Jenn, they were awesome. I just found some sriracha ketchup that is amazing, not exactly a one-to-one replacement, but it is something I can eat at home!

      Reply

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