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Saturday, November 28, 2009

De Schmire Restaurant: Petaluma CA

“When I first walked in that back door I knew some day I would like to own this restaurant.” That is the thing that crossed Danny Eastman’s mind when he went to work for De Schmire Restaurant in Petaluma 24 years ago. Danny started by washing dishes, moved into learning prep work and then the entire restaurant business through ‘on the job’ training.

The Restaurant was originally a candy store, later turned into a restaurant where people lined up to savor the good food served on wooden tables with benches. Later Matt Roche and Robert Steiner bought the restaurant and enclosed the patio and replaced the picnic benches with individual tables, white table clothes and napkins, creating a different dining atmosphere. They taught Danny Eastman all he needed to know by the time he purchased the restaurant in February of 2007. A month for painting and sprucing the place up and Danny was ready to go. He had help from Andrew Lujan who started at this restaurant himself as an apprentice in 1975 and is now the chef. Andy Lujan developed his taste for cooking from his mother who was a well known pastry chef. Andy also has worked in other French Restaurants, such as La Petite Bergier and Daniel’s in Marin County and The Bistro in Santa Rosa. Two other team members are Judi Mitchell who takes care of the front of the house and Greg Call, another chef, who has also been around for about 20 years creating the tasty meals of the house. These three chefs get along very well as the kitchen is rather small and it takes real coordination to work around each other.

Dan runs the business and purchases all the food as well as serving as part time Chef and Front of the House. He buys locally, getting meat from Rancho Veal (where he gets his sweetbreads), produce in Penngrove, fish from San Francisco, and his duck from Reichardt Duck Farm. His menu is extensive. He tries to have 3 or 4 fish dishes, chicken, beef, duck, veal, and 4 specialties every night. Danny’s specialty is his soups. He always has French Onion and Roasted Garlic Mushroom, but there are other special soups offered at different times. This week it is pumpkin soup. Last week a customer said, “I’ve eaten onion soup all over the world and this is the best I have ever had.”

The menu is French cuisine and entrees are extensive. The selections include: Filet Mignon , New York Steak or Sauté de Beouf ($22 to $24); De Whole Schmire combines filet mignon and jumbo prawns Portuguese (($28); Rack of Lamb ($29); Sweetbreads ($29)’ Veal Morel ($25); Chicken dishes ($20 - $28); Roast Duck ($20); two Prawn dishes ($22); Salmon ($21) Halibut ($22); Sole Dore ($21) and Paris Nights – a medley of fresh seafood, scallops, prawns, sea bass and mussels served in a creamy saffron sauce ($22). On top of this every night they have 3 or 4 Specialty Dishes.

There are 7 selections for Appetizers ($7 to $9) and 7 different soups and salads ($5 to $7) on the regular menu. The desserts include a chocolate mousse and crème Brule. The wine list changes but you can get wine by the glass, or a bottle of white wine which ranges in price from $30 to $45 and red wines ranging from $30 to $55.

When I decided to cover a restaurant in Petaluma I asked some “foodie” friends for a recommendation and without hesitation heard, DE SCHMIRE. The atmosphere is inviting, and both the service and the food are very good. As you know, French Cuisine is noted for delicate sauces that are part of the different dishes. You won’t be disappointed at De Schmire.
The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesday through Sunday they are open for dinner starting at 5:30 till closing (about 9:00). It is helpful to call in for dinner reservations so Danny has staff on board for crowded evenings, and you will be assured of a table. The phone number is 707 762 1901. There is a banquet room that holds 35 people. It is popular for Holiday Parties, Weddings, Birthdays and other special events. The restaurant is located at 203 Bodega Avenue in Petaluma. It is very close to downtown and parking is available across the street.