The historic Sonoma Hotel located on Spain Street has been a part of the Sonoma Valley landscape since 1872. But it doesn't just offer charming accommodations, it also is home to one of the most popular restaurants in Northern California: The Girl & The Fig (stylized in lowercase as the girl & the fig).
With the clutches of the pandemic starting to lose its grasp on hungry travelers, the Sonoma Valley is finally getting its groove back. Part of that is its wonderful eateries and cafes. The Girl & The Fig is one of the cornerstones of that world and if you happen to find yourself visiting this historic valley, make your table reservations at this charming establishment early.
The menu is described as "Country food with a French passion," which immediately brings about feelings of comfort and sophistication. You'll get both here, but leave the coat and tie back at the hotel as this is California cuisine which means shorts and casual shoes are appropriate, especially for lunch.
Michael Elliott is the Director of Communications at The Girl & The Fig. He's held that position since January 2021. He says people are slowly making their way back to the public dining table so much so the demand is off the charts.
"People have been cooped up for so long during the pandemic that they just want to get out," he says explaining that some guests may still be uncomfortable being indoors, "which is why the parklets and the patio have been great to have during this time. It allows them to still get out and dine with us and allows them to feel still feel safe."
It was as their guest that I dined there for lunch. My companion and I sat on the patio. Our waiter, Geoffrey, was as vibrant as the sunbeams peeking through the umbrella-shaded rooftop. We started with what should be everyone's first choice, the hefty cheese and the charcuterie board. We also got a nice portion of their signature fig bread and butter to start us off.
Diners filled the outdoor space with many tables serving four or more people; chatter was the ambient noise. It was definitely a great sight to see after being in solitude for the past year. Elliott says "The Fig" --- as locals call it --- kept afloat during the pandemic by doing take-out only. "We created an online store via Square and used our front door as a takeout window. Our locals were awesome during this time and really went out of their way to support local restaurants. Once dining was allowed outside, we built an outdoor parklet."
Parklets allowed a lot of businesses to beat the pandemic at its own game. Customers could wear masks and socially distance while still capturing that indoor feel. The only casualties are parking spots, something the plaza definitely could use more of.
But there was no time to think of logistics as our lunch soon arrived. I ordered the special of the week: A deliciously tender pork loin with mustard spaetzle, red beets, and rhubarb compote. It melted as soon as it touched my mouth. My brain couldn't decide if it preferred the sweet over the savory or vice versa. Good thing there was a lot of it.
My lunch partner had the fried chicken sandwich and frites: a safe choice on a warm Saturday afternoon. Strangely the sandwich got better over time. We took part of it home after filling up on other things and it definitely worked as a luxe midnight snack.
For all of its good food and sizable portions, The Girl & The Fig also does catering. If you want to impress your guests at your private gathering, I would highly recommend their menu. One thing The Fig is also known for is its support of local LGBT events. There is one standout called Out in the Vineyard.
"Gary Saperstein (the owner) used to be a GM at The Girl & The Fig and is a good friend of ours," says Elliott. "They usually do one large event a year and we do the catering for it."
Sonoma Valley is not hurting for restaurants. In fact, it is one of the most well-known culinary destinations in the world. In order to survive the food has to be good, it has to be unique, and its reputation has to be "word-of-mouth watering" --- to coin a phrase.
The Girl & the Fig has been around for almost a quarter of a century so it has definitely proven itself as a Sonoma staple. As people emerge from their homes and interact outside of social media apps, moving around the country is all about finding comfort. Sonoma is like a matrix of rest and relaxation. The Girl and the Fig is a part of that architecture.
"Right now, our focus is on rebuilding the business after the pandemic and keeping it being the signature restaurant in Sonoma," says Elliott.
For more information on The Girl & The Fig click HERE.