SHED: An Authentic Taste of Northern Calfornia in Healdsburg
Sonoma County’s Healdsburg is a town known most for its high-end restaurants and fantastic cuisine, as well as it's close proximity to wine country, which results in endless great wine lists. Having first opened its doors in 2013, SHED is not a new kid on the block, but the restaurant’s atmosphere and creative culinary delights are anything but old school.
“SHED felt authentic, with a transparency between farmers, chefs and the community,” chef Perry Hoffman says about what attracted him to the Healdsburg restaurant scene. And in a town full of great restaurants, SHED’s exterior and interior space is just about as unique as Hoffman’s menu—surely drawing in both locals and out-of-town visitors. It’s a massive industrial warehouse turned into a rustic, but very welcoming restaurant and retail space—think farmhouse-style restaurant meets fermentation bar meets boutique home meets garden shop.
“Being a part of SHED—a business that stands for farmers, sustainability, education and ingredients—is exciting,” wine director Patricia Philitsa states. Upon entering, that commitment to Sonoma County’s agricultural life and passion for full-flavored ingredients is evident in the design of the space. The front half is equipped with a full-service fermentation bar complete with coffee, wine, cocktails, beer, cider, mead and even probiotic shots. Offering a local, seasonal menu—with many of the ingredients grown and made in-house by the SHED team—Hoffman appreciates that “...this area is geographically diverse with great places to forage, different microclimates that produce an array of products, and many small farmers, ranchers and producers to work with.” He furthers, “At SHED, I can cook in my style—and explore a wide variety of flavors.”
Home goods, cookbooks, preserved goods (made in-house) and culinary gadgets stock the wood, provisions-style shelves for perusal and purchase on the left side of the space. And the farm side on the right offers gardening tools and outdoor supplies to provide inspiration for sprucing up your own outdoor space. Then, right in the center of it all is an open-concept kitchen and prep-space, with surrounding restaurant seating. Operating during breakfast, lunch and dinner, SHED provides a creative menu that is sure to satisfy at any hour of the day.
When popping in for dinner, you’ll want to start with a shim—a low alcohol cocktail—as an aperitif. Wakatake Sake, elderflower tea, ume plum syrup and lemon combine to make a creamy textured and sensual cocktail; the delicate sake flavor is juxtaposed against a kick of salt and herb on the rim of the glass, brightening up the citrus and floral flavors. And don’t miss the opportunity to pair this Sake shim with some oysters on the half shell—fresh with just a touch of salt and olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon to bring it all together.
Dining with chef Hoffman, you never know what might be available that’s not on the menu, as he's always working to create unique and seasonal offerings. “My culinary team and I get energized and excited when the seasons shift and new products become available; we enjoy the process of creatively collaborating to bring our ideas together,” Hoffman says about his approach in the kitchen. A herring salad served with a fish fumé broth is by far one of the most unique dishes I have tasted in a Healdsburg restaurant. Herring, shaved almonds, watercress and fennel make for a savory and herbal offering; the dish is texturally stunning, with a pickled essence, and a cool and fresh approach. Pair this dish with the interesting white blend 2015 Scholium Project Miss Texas—there’s Chardonnay, Verdejo and even Friulano in it—with great acidity, a mouth-filling texture, lemon and juicy green melon flavors, and you’re in for a one-of-a-kind coupling.
From the more robust side of the menu, a SHED classic is the Parade Farms heritage chicken served with a savory bread salad, sunchoke pureé and dandelions conserva. Here, the savory bread salad tastes like it was fried in animal fat—adding an extra layer of depth and richness—and the entire dish is beautifully textured. Delicious savory flavors combine with the tender chicken, anise and umami-rich gravy to make this dish a filling offering, but it never feels heavy or out of balance—just utterly satisfying in its depth of flavor and texture. So hearty, it pairs well with the 2014 Front Porch Farm Red—a Grenache and Syrah blend from Russian River Valley with a medium body, silky texture and flavors of raspberry, black cherry and violets.
“It all starts with nature and what is coming from the earth,” Hoffman states. And after tasting his cuisine, it’s clear that he both respects and honors the food with which he works. His culinary creations are unique in their design, downright full of flavor and truly showcases the quality of ingredients in a sensual way. The same can be said for Philitsa’s wine list, which boasts “good wines at reasonable prices, with a commitment to local, organic and natural wines,” she states. “It’s a small list, nearly all local vintages from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. We focus on keeping our selection as close to home as possible,” thereby honoring SHED’s overall commitment to working with the community in which they operate. So if you’re a local looking to enjoy your community's goods, SHED's got you covered. And if you’re from out of town looking for a truly authentic taste of Northern California cuisine and wine, then SHED is just about as representative as it gets.
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