Branches Wood Fired Chop House CLOSED 1180 Airport Park Blvd., 2 mi. S of town, (707) 468‐5400. $$. Reservations taken.
This gargantuan space houses a retail area with a butcher shop and bakery, plus an upscale restaurant, a traditional Irish-style pub and sports bar (it is well-insulated so the noise does not spill over), and an adjacent quiet “grown-ups bar.” Diners can eat and then gather more goodies for their next meal at home. The wide-open main dining room has an extremely high ceiling with open rafters, plenty of comfortable booths, and a menu that offers dishes made from the freshest local ingredients. Almost everything is made in-house in the semi-open kitchen behind an outcropping of decorative reeds. The restaurant also has its own gardens. Though the menu changes regularly, popular items include a pepper-crusted filet mignon with Jack Daniels demi glace, a sourdough-crusted pizza, and some vegan items. Order one of the delicious sausages when available (the curried lamb and angry pig are superb). Pastry chef Debbie Coenen formerly cooked for the royals in Buckingham Palace, so be sure to try one of her delicious creations—perhaps an old-fashioned cream puff or an apricot tart.
Though usually there are no surprises in franchise lodgings, this boutique Hampton Inn (1160 Airport Park Blvd., (800) hampton, (707) 462-6555. 3 floors; 76 rooms. Some fireplaces. Pool; hot tub; fitness room. Full breakfast.) is next door and the only one in the U.S. with private patios and balconies. It features a nicely landscaped pool area with two koi ponds, and all rooms are oversize.
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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers