I am always excited to try new restaurants. So when I heard about Café Eloise located in Sebastopol, I had to go. Eloise is a mélange of NYC (like a few hard to miss indulgences and your grandma’s Bubbe’s hand) with local sourced (really local, like their garden) ingredients (putting the ingredient on a pedestal- oh so Californian).
Eloise is located a bit out of the way in Sebastopol, very unassuming, even the décor is warm, yet nothing breathtaking. It seems cozy and trying to take nothing away from the food. The food itself matches this coziness, from cassoulet to the fatty richness of torchon of foie gras, roasted bone marrow and lots of brown butter.
For starters, the prawns from Santa Barbara tasted sweeter and more tender than lobster, done in a spicy oil. They were so fresh and succulent. Messy, delicious and again luxurious. The lentil soup (Morracan style) lacked a little spice and flavor. Yet it’s lightness was admirable but perhaps not what I envisioned. House cured sardines with thinly sliced celery salad were perfect complements. And the bone marrow was extraordinary, served with pain levain toasts and a parsley salad with cornichons, capers, and shallots to cut the fattiness and give it a much-needed acidity. Highly anticipated and decadent, I could have eaten just that and been quite content. (flowers in their garden)
For entrees, the chard and ricotta gnocchi were light flavorful pillows yet extremely rich with brown butter and sage sauce. Skate wing was again with brown butter but the artichokes and croutons were the perfect touches. A little too much brown butter was used, I would have liked to see another sauce, but it was a damn good brown butter.
The dessert menu seemed so uninspired I wasn’t even tempted. Plus the richness of the previous courses made it difficult to even think of dessert.
Café Eloise is just that, a great café with finely tuned comfort classics. It is worth a trip, and if you are in the neighborhood, it shouldn’t be missed. It will be interesting to see what comes of this little food haven.