Sonoma County Restaurants - July 2011
The Sebastopol Scene: Café Marcella at Woodruff’s
By Cecile Lusby
Talk about out of the way places. Woodruff’s opened five months ago, but I had not seen it because it is not visible from the highway. Now that I’ve been there for lunch, I want the reader to know the address: 966 Gravenstein Highway South, tucked in behind Starbucks and next to Subway in Sebastopol. A friend recommended it when I said I wanted my visiting daughter to enjoy a good new restaurant in Sonoma County. We found it easily, and entered to find a mini-gourmet shop where designer brews, pastas, Koslowski’s jams, assorted chutneys, and fine wines are displayed on tall stainless steel racks near a cooler carrying deli items and Hotlips fruit sodas (boysenberry, cherry).
The handsome host ushered us to the dining area on a raised platform in back of the room holding about ten tables in a well-lit environment. This is Cafe Marcela. The soup changes daily, so when hearing “chilled double pea soup,” I figured the cook was adventurous. We had to think hard to consider and sort out all the possibilities from an imaginative menu.
Coming indoors from a rainy afternoon, I did not find the prospect of chilled soup enticing. I asked our server, Syringa, if she would ask the chef to heat it and they both complied. In this case, this soup was very different from the split pea I normally like on a rainy day; double pea means snow peas and fresh green peas blended with braised scallions, and I just felt that sounded good enough to eat hot. Syringa returned with a piping hot square white bowl of deep green soup dotted with mint and bits of sour cream. The soup was astonishingly good, but maybe I’ll go back on a summer day and try it chilled as the chef intended. I did it my way, and they let me, and the choice was comforting on that cold spring day.
My daughter Marina chose the baked Camembert appetizer served with fig preserves, with the Camembert coming from Marin French Cheese Company. She loved it and let me have a bite. Marina also ordered a dish called bread pudding that was a savory entrée, not a dessert, served with its own salad made of the freshest local greens. Oh, and I took a sip of the Hotlips Blackberry that she described as liquid jam with a fizz.
Woodruff’s takes its name from the owner-chef David Woodruff, an extraordinary baker. Each day the bread varies according to David’s hot sandwich selection, both meat and veggie. That day we had slices of five-grain multi-seed bread served while we waited, but David also prepares soft whole wheat as well as a white rice and onion loaf.
We were able to discuss our food with our server as well as the second chef, Luz Quiroz, who both were generous with their time and information. I enjoyed my meal, as did my companion. There are three menus: breakfast, lunch, and Sunday Brunch, with plans for a Father’s Day event as well on June 19. I can recommend it highly for family gatherings and friends who want to find a place where they can converse and hear each other.
Woodruff’s Artisan Foods and Cafe Marcella, 966 Gravenstein Hwy S., Sebastopol, (707) 829-2141. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 7:30 am to 6pm, Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Visit Woodruff on their Facebook Page for menus and more information (don't forget to "Like" them).