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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sonoma County Restaurant: Off the Track, Forestville

The holidays are upon us and this newspaper is filled with wonderful suggestions of locally owned and operated stores to find quality and unique gifts for family and friends this season. Maybe you love to shop or it may be your worst nightmare, but as long as you are out why not consider taking time to connect with a friend or just take time for yourself to relax over a sandwich or piece of pie and cup of coffee. There are many places I could recommend for a quiet lunch and a chance to go over your shopping list to make sure you didn’t forget anything.

I like to shop in the local businesses in the west part of the county, not only for the great selection of gifts, but for the availability of good lunch spots, from Bodega Bay to Sebastopol, from Healdsburg to Petaluma. If you check the Gazette Web site you will find some of the places I would recommend on the list of Restaurant Reviews. And here is a new one.

OFF THE TRACK CAFÉ in Forestville is a family restaurant. Alicia Schroeder is the one who will most often greet you when you walk in the front door. However, her brother, Aaron Keyser, may be on duty too. The pies are made by Alicia’s mother, Eileen Keyser, along with her delicious cookies (she won 1st place for her chocolate chip cookies at the Harvest Fair this year).

When the Schroeder’s (Alicia and her husband Ryan) opened this restaurant they decided to name it in honor of Ryan’s father who, in the past, owned a restaurant by this name in southern California. Once the name was selected the family began to do some research about the history of the railroad in Forestville. As a result they have decorated the restaurant accordingly.

There is a large mural done by Jonathan Solter (the artist who painted the mural at Andy’s Market) on one wall depicting railroad scenes, a large photo of a train that fell off the track in 1905 in Cazadero, other photos from the Historical Society show scenes from Forestville in the early 1900s, and a window that connects the front part of the train — ah — er restaurant with the lounge in the back looks like a ticket window. (See picture of Alicia). A toy train on the counter has about 5 cars and the engine — off the track, of course. Alicia says people who come in tend to put the train back on the track — come to think of it, I have done that myself.

Off The Track Café is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. They have a large selection of coffee drinks and I stop often for my cappuccino. Although I don’t like flavored coffee of any kind I tried the Pumpkin latté last week and it was really good. They serve baked goods and various pastries that are made daily. They have Breakfast Burritos served with home made salsa: fire roasted paseo chilies, potatoes, eggs and mozzarella; sausage, eggs, potato, cheese and grilled scallions; or bacon, eggs, potato, and white cheddar for $5.50.

A selection of Paninis served with salad includes: Pastrami and white cheddar cheese with sauerkraut and sweet grain mustard; Lemon rosemary chicken with parmesan cheese and roasted garlic aioli; or Sausage with white cheddar cheese, balsamic roasted peppers and caramelized onions for $7.50 and an eggplant, goat cheese and tomato panini for $6.50.

There is a kids menu for $3.50. You can also get lox and bagels $4.50, fruit cups, $3.00 or a slice of fresh cake $2.50 or pie $3.50. There are soft drinks, teas, and Gelato to finish off your lunch.

This restaurant is family friendly. There is Wi Fi so you can check your email on your laptop or there are two couches where you can just relax and read the paper or play chess on the coffee table. The address is 6544 Front Street in Forestville and the phone number is 887-1400.