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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Soonoma County Restaurant - Humble Pie, Penngrove, CA


West Sonoma is such a wonderful and unique place that I have no trouble finding interesting places for eating out. But I wandered into Penngrove with friends one night in November to go to a restaurant that I want to share with you.

First off, Penngrove reflects the charm of many West County small communities. As you drive east on Old Redwood Highway turn right on Main Street and after you cross the railroad tracks there is an old building that is itself “pie shaped” and houses the Black Cat Bar and the Humble Pie Restaurant as well as hotel rooms on the second floor. When you visit the restaurant be sure to check out the memorabilia in the bathroom that takes up the “pointy end” of the pie shaped building. The address is 10056 Main Street, Penngrove, and the phone number is 664-8779. HUMBLE PIE is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 P.M. to 11 P.M. and Friday and Saturday 5 P.M. to 12 A.M. I am one of those night time people who love to find a place you can get a really fine dinner at 10:00 at night. Starting this month Humble Pie is also serving Sunday Brunch from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M.

You will be greeted by Joshua Norwitt who owns this restaurant with Miriam Donaldson and partners Dan Mccann and Brook Mccann. Dan is the one on the right in the picture and the Chef for the Restaurant. Miriam also does much of the cooking and Josh takes care of the front of the house. The restaurant has six tables and holds twenty five to thirty people. Music is played on a turntable on the counter by the kitchen and you are encouraged to look over the LP vinyl records and play what you like. Perhaps you might want to bring your own LP and share it with the rest of the diners for the evening. There is a door between the restaurant and the bar so you can always order whatever you want from the bar in this friendly and cozy atmosphere. Miriam tells me the customers are mostly local and range in age from a more mature crowd (usually the early diners) to a younger crowd (often later diners) and those in between.

Miriam and Joshua are independent survivors. They met in San Diego but moved up here to live with other family members on a 165 acre ranch toward the coast. Various family members share the interest in gardening and ranch life. The first step in preparation for the restaurant business was to plant a huge garden and experiment with as many varieties of vegetables and fruits as seemed practical. Canning and preserving the food they grow is high on their list. They are now adding 3 or 4 goats and are considering raising a pig. The ranch had been a sheep ranch in the past and still is home for two old cows living out their golden years.

As you would expect, the food at the Humble Pie reflects all the fresh and seasonally local produce that is available. They change the menu every week but there are a couple things that the customers insist they keep on the menu.

One is ‘BLUE BALLS & HANDMADE KETCHUP – beef and pork meatballs stuffed with Point Reyes Blue Cheese’ which is one of the “small plate” offerings for $8. But since most everything changes I am going to give you the menu from the first week in January. Two other small plates include ‘Winter Salad – buttery croutons’, roasted butternut squash, green apple, black currants, cabbage and bacon” for $8 and Cheese Ball – goat cheese and green onion rolled in sweet red pepper and walnut served with cucumber slices and sliced baguette for $7.

For the supper section you have 4 choices: MUSHROOM KINGDOM – parmesan polenta cakes, slathered in vegetable ragout, served cheesy with a green salad for $15; PORK CHOPS – two center cut pork chops with apple & black currant compote on mashed potatoes served with a salad for $17; GREEN ON GREEN – handmade spinach fettucine with avocado cream sauce topped with rosemary tomatoes and bacon served with a salad for $15; and GLORIOUS GRAVY AND ROSEMARY BISCUITS along with local sausage served with a big ol’ green salad for $13. For dessert you can have a piece of pie ( there may be more than one choice) and topped with vanilla ice cream, if you like, for $5. (by the way – you’ll love the prices on the wine list.)