sante california

Restaurant of the Week: Santé

Santé is not only located in a mission – the award-winning Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, to be exact –  the restaurant is on a mission to fuse the ample bounty of all of California with the culinary artistry of Sonoma County. The AAA Four Diamond honoree uses the KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly!) method in its approach, letting fresh ingredients shine versus weighing them down with heavy creams and sauces.

Executive Chef Jared Reeves partners with local wineries, ranches, cheesemakers, breweries, fisheries and farmers to source most ingredients, using the seasons to direct his menu versus trends. March actually marks his one-year anniversary at the helm of the lauded eatery. Prior, he served as sous chef, with the restaurant being his first West Coast position throughout his storied career. Reeves began his culinary journey at the Kansas City Marriott in 2005 before relocating to the other side of the world – literally – to take on a position at the Marriott in Sydney. In 2009, Reeves earned a diploma of Hospitality Management from Le Cordon Bleu Sydney, and he trained in the country for many years, working at acclaimed eateries across the region including Lucio’s, Mrs. G’s and Blancmange Bouchon before being named head chef of The Wood’s Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney in 2013.

In 2016, Reeves made his way back stateside, joining the opening team at Four Seasons New York, a Forbes Five Star Property, where he held the post of chef de cuisine until making his way to Sonoma and Santé in 2018. Reeves was recognized as the 2020 Leader of the Year at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, and the same year was also a finalist for the California Hotel and Lodging Association Stars of the Industry Awards, in the category of Outstanding Manager.

When visiting Reeves and his epic Sonoma eatery, make sure to come hungry, and do not sleep on the starters.

All meals at Santé should start with the bread service, which was a heavenly rosemary Meyer lemon sourdough when I visited, but I suspect it changes regularly. Hyperlocal, the bread is sourced from Della Fattoria in nearby Petaluma and paired with freshly whipped butter that will melt in your mouth. In addition, the salt-baked heirloom beets with kumquat tofu might sound wild, but the rustic flavor feels ultra comforting and almost homey, in the best way possible. Celebrating something special – if even it just being Saturday? Splurge on the caviar and crisps for the table, which includes house chips made from Yukon Gold potatoes Tsar Nicolai caviar, crème fraiche and chives. You will not be sorry!

Once to the main event – entrees – consider ordering a cornucopia of dishes and sharing instead of sticking to just one choice, mostly because it is too hard to choose just one item. Of note are the pan-seared wild black cod with this luscious mole beurre blanc; the Superior Farms roast lamb sirloin with local carrots, rainbow chard and lavender-infused jus; and 20-ou. Painted Hills prime bone-in ribeye with duck fat fingerlings that will make your eyes roll back in your head.

The dessert list is an ever-changing laundry list of sweets. Changing regularly, expect a hint of fresh fruit, local cheese and even to-go s’mores kits to enjoy at an outdoor firepit on property.

One final note: while there are beer options and several impressive cocktails, focus on wine pairings with your meal. The wine menu is a celebration of the entire state’s wine industry with options from Mendocino, Carneros, the Sonoma Coast, Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley and many more. If not driving, ask for the advanced sommelier on staff, who is always around to pair every single dish with something special (including some surprises off the menu if he has something cool in his back office).

For more information on Santé, visit www.fairmont.com.

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