Recently, our merry band of diners decided to enjoy a fun night out in gorgeous downtown Walnut Creek. Sunol Ridge Restaurant and Bar came highly recommended so we thought we’d go and check it out. Before visiting, I knew nothing about the restaurant or menu so I went with an open mind and a hungry tummy.
Entering the restaurant you really get the impression of a hip, trendy place. The decor is interesting. The walls in the bar are dressed in mirror background with wood strips on top of it creating a striped effect. The ceiling has an interesting geometric wood design which reminded me of different styles and shapes of pallets which contrasted with the round lighting fixtures. The bar itself has a coating of cowhide strips that are used like wallpaper, and the bar stools are chrome with a neutral leather seat. On the other side of the bar, there are low modern sofas with colorful contemporary fabric. All summed up, the place definitely has a unique style all of its own. Rustic with a modern/contemporary twist maybe?
I have to say this right now, our server was beyond awesome. She had the cutest personality and we all really enjoyed her. She was effortless in her outstanding service and I doubt there is one more thing that she could have done to make our evening more enjoyable. Great service trumps everything else. In my book, great service makes up for any little mistakes that are made in the kitchen, or on the bill. But guess what? Her great service didn’t have to make up for anything. It was all fantastic!
We started off our dinner with glasses of wine. I started off the night with a glass of their Vasco Urbano 2012 “The Sherif” GSM. I really enjoyed this sip. Silky smooth in the mouth, with a gorgeous richness of dark fruits and a hint of smoke. It got a big thumbs up from me. The Brit ordered a glass of the 2014 Tierra Devina Terra Rossa Malbec. I had a taste of his wine and it was true to form for a Malbec. It had a medium body in the mouth with good fruit flavors and a nice spicy finish. We both liked it a lot. Both of the wines we selected were perfect pairings for food.
One of our guests ordered a glass of the Caratelli 2013 Rose Grenache. She tends to like sweeter profile wines, so that was our best guess from the menu choices of something that she would enjoy. The wine didn’t end up being at all sweet, but she was able to enjoy the soft floral and vanilla notes in her glass. It ended up to be a win despite its lack of sweetness for her.
To start we decided to order one dish between the four of us to share. We selected the fried green tomatoes. I have to say that I was a little surprised as to how they were served. When I have eaten this dish in the past, it has always been slices of the green tomatoes battered and then fried. The chef, in this case, had cut the tomatoes into wedges and then battered and fried them. They were outstanding. You could hear the sounds of pleasure from our table as we ate them hungrily. The spicy basil ranch dipping sauce that was served with them on the side was so good I could have just eaten it alone with a spoon. I would highly recommend this as an appetizer.
We then ordered a selection of plates between us. Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, Worcestershire braised beef cheeks, Tapioca-crusted snapper, and Sunfed ranch burger. It was me who ordered the burger. Everyone else took all of the dishes I was drooling over. In the end, I decided it would be good to have the contrast to all of the more gourmet dishes and see how simple worked in this place.
When our plates arrived, we were all impressed. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you which of the dishes I enjoyed eating more. My burger was delicious, cooked perfectly and beautifully seasoned. The cheese on it had both good melt and a nice flavor which was a great addition to the meaty goodness of the beef. Anyone who enjoys a good burger, this is a really well-executed version. They kept it simple and easy and didn’t try to get fancy with it. The fries were tasty and well seasoned. I enjoyed my plate.
The beef cheeks were wonderful. Actually, they tasted nearly identical to those I had tried in The Czech Republic and Poland a few months ago. They had that deep rich gravy flavor and the tender melt in your mouth meat which were highlighted by the creamy mashed potatoes. The combination made this dish a winner. I loved how the broccolini, onions, and carrots were cooked and that they added a contrast to the rich dish.
The Tapioca-crusted snapper was a joy in the mouth. It was texturally interesting plus packed with flavor. Our guest who orders fish because she feels that she “ought to” rather than enjoying it, raved about it. The rice cake was particularly interesting and I loved the cook of the veggies. I would absolutely order this dish on my next visit.
The last dish was The Brit’s. The bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin was simply: Crazy good! All of the flavors, the apple, the tenderness of the pork and the saltiness of the bacon were in absolute harmony. The pork was cooked beautifully and you could see the juices running down the plate. I thought the au jus and the veggie hash was a great complement to the rest of the flavors. I loved this dish.
As we were all enjoying ourselves and we could blame the blog, we decided that we would share two desserts between the four of us. We selected the Chocolate Mousse and two sorbets. They came plated together on a huge slate slab. The mousse had a light texture with tons of chocolate flavor. It had been drizzled with a raspberry coulis and accented with fresh raspberries. It was delicious. The mango and strawberry sorbets were both great, but the mango was the unanimous favorite. It had such amazing and bold flavor that the strawberry seemed to pale in comparison. Almond flavored meringue twists were served with our dessert. Sometimes meringue can get hard and have an uninteresting flavor. These, however, were light, crispy and not overly sweet. I loved the addition of the almond flavor. It kept them from being boring. The meringue also complimented both the mousse and sorbet in flavor and added wonderful texture.
It was a fantastic meal and we all really enjoyed everything about it. This restaurant goes on our highly recommend list. Thank you to the staff and the chef, for such a great experience.