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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Restaurant Review: Henweigh Cafe, Sebastopol CA

Dad comes home from work and says to son, “I saw a henweigh on the way home today.” Son asks. “What’s a henweigh?” Dad, “Oh, about 5 pounds,” DRUM ROLL –CYMBOL CRASH! That was one of the family jokes when Dennis Kelly was growing up. Now he, and partner, Lois Nielsen have decided that is the perfect name for their new venture, the HENWEIGH CAFÉ. You can find this charming place at 4550 Gravenstein Hwy N. Although the address is Sebastopol it is nestled toward Forestville in the “Mom’s Apple Pie” building and is developing a local following of people in this west county area.

Dennis and Lois didn’t get here by accident. They spent time looking at their interests and planning their future. Dennis has a background in high tech business – marketing specifically, and he likes entertaining and cooking. Lois has been in the retail business and knows her way around developing a business plan. Their plan included having a landmark restaurant, a community presence, an admired reputation, quality food while being sensitive to the economy and having a good time.

With this in mind they opened the Henweigh Café. They have an open kitchen that is neat and visible. Having competent and friendly employees and mentoring younger staff is a priority for Dennis and Lois. They want the restaurant to be a place that has a pleasant atmosphere and customers feel welcomed. There is an outside deck and the owners are dog friendly. So you can bring your pet to sit quietly by your table on the deck.

Dennis and Lois have already established partnerships with other businesses and organizations in the area. This includes developing relationships with smaller local wineries and sponsoring a local soccer team. They plan to be proactive in the community and are engaged in special activities, wine tasting events, banquets, private parties and having fun in general at all times.
While they both cook, Dennis specializes in smoking the baby back ribs. He has a industrial size barbeque smoker and along with the ribs he prepares special menus featuring Smoked Chicken and Cold Smoked Rib Eye steaks. Lois developed the menu and creates some of the recipes. Her house special is the Chicken Pot Pie. She also has created some interesting sandwich recipes. They are planning a contest in October to see which they sell more of: the Smoked Ribs or the Chicken Pot Pies.

To give you an idea of the menu they have nine choices of burgers or sandwiches served with citrus slaw and house made potato chips or you can substitute sweet potato fries. These include 4 kinds of Panini grilled sandwiches ($6 to $9 each), tuna melt or vegetable sandwich ($7) bacon –turkey ($8), pulled BBQ Pork ($8) Burger ($12) and the baby back ribs half-rack ($14) or full rack ($20). Main course entrees are Three cheese Pasta ($13) The Henweigh chicken pot pie ($14) and Bourbon Marinated Flank Steak ($18). There are 4 selections of salads from mixed greens to a salad with grilled steak and blue cheese on top which range from $6 to $10. Or you can settle on a selection of their 7 side dishes ranging from $4 to $7. For something really different try their Classic Swiss for $28 which is a fondue made with Gruyere and Emmantaler cheeses and an assortment of dipping items. This would be a nice treat with a bottle of local wine from their wine list. In the winter they will be introducing some special items such as Boston Clam Chowder.

Sundays they serve Brunch from 9:30 to 2:00 ($17). You select from Quiche, Crab & Dill Scramble, Eggs Benedict, Vanilla Malted French Toast or Poached Egg with Chorizo Hash. There are also some Ala Carte items on the brunch menu and their coffee is organic Italian Blend from Sonoma County.

Henweigh is open Wednesday and Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., on Fridays and Saturdays they serve 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and the Sunday brunch 9:30 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. You can call them at 707 829 7500. Their web site is where you can sign up for a newsletter and send them emails.