The dining room at wine-country destination SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg, Calif., may still be closed, but owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton have returned to serving the local cuisine and superior wine experiences they’re known for through two new projects. The Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner opened an outdoor wine bar on its rooftop, while simultaneously teaming with Kistler winery to host a series of vineyard dinners.
The off-premise partnership treats guests to a 10-course meal with an optional pairing highlighting Kistler wines, served among the vines at the winery’s Trenton Roadhouse tasting room in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. “It’s a really, really beautiful rolling Sonoma hillside of the vineyards,” Kyle told Wine Spectator. “The sun sets behind the guest, and the moonrise happens off of the horizon—it’s just a really beautiful outdoor experience.” The price starts at $375, with wine pairings an additional $300. Guests are greeted with sparkling fresh-pressed Chardonnay juice before heading to the outdoor table for Kyle’s seasonal menu. “Like always, our menus are driven by what we’re harvesting from Katina’s farm,” he said, adding that here they’ll be “specifically tailored to the wines.”
The pairing begins with Dom Pérignon 2006, followed by various single-vineyard Kistler wines, starting with the more austere and high-acid Chardonnay and progressing through a few more Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs before finishing with a Sauternes. There’s also a selection of wines by the glass. “People are missing those experiences of being able to come around a table with great food and great wine and in a great environment and just enjoy and decompress, and now being deprived of that, people are enjoying it so much,” Kyle said. “It’s such a pleasure to give that experience to guests right now.”
SingleThread and Kistler are already partners in donating 1,000 meals a week through Sonoma Family Meal, and they’re incorporating three fundraising components into these dinners. When booking reservations, guests can add a supplemental donation that directly funds those meal donations. There’s also a 200-ticket raffle at $100 a ticket to win a two-night stay at SingleThread for two couples, including dinner at the restaurant with wine pairings and a special tasting, a farm tour with Katina and more, plus a small collection of Kistler wines. The money will be equally distributed between Sonoma Family Meal and the Sonoma County COVID-19 Resilience Fund. Additionally, Kistler is donating to both of those organizations with funds from wine sales at the event.
Back at the restaurant, guests can now dine in the rooftop garden, which could previously only be accessed as part of the complete SingleThread dining experience, where guests were welcomed for an aperitif before heading downstairs for dinner. “With us moving our dining off-site, it was an opportunity to actually utilize the rooftop and do something different than we normally do, something a little more casual, much more wine-focused and really capture and utilize the space,” Kyle said.
In contrast to the typical tasting-menu format, there’s an à la carte menu including crudités from the farm with herbed silken tofu, green goddess dip, yuzu kosho–marinated olives and a local charcuterie board. A pared-down list by wine director Rusty Rastello offers about 50 selections geared to appeal to both winemaker patrons and visitors looking to discover local wines, including some half-bottles and wines by the glass. The full list of 1,800 labels is also available by request.
Both the Kistler collaboration and the rooftop wine bar are set to stay open through September, but Kyle noted that they’ll likely extend both, depending on all the currently unpredictable factors such as weather and the status of indoor dining in the state. “This is our third closure, we’ve had two for fires and now this, so we’re no stranger to shutting down,” he said. “We’re taking what is obviously an unfortunate situation and trying to create something with it, not only for us and our staff and our business, but for our guests, because we want to give people an experience that they can enjoy in an environment that feels very safe.”—Julie Harans
After more than three decades, Los Angeles Grand Award winner Patina has closed. Housed in the Walt Disney Concert Hall since 2003, the restaurant was opened by chef Joachim Splichal in 1989 on Melrose Avenue, where it received Wine Spectator’s highest award in 1994. The news comes on the heels of many restaurant closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is unclear whether Patina’s closure is due to issues brought on by the virus, and the owners did not respond to requests for comment.
The 1,500-label wine list managed by Splichal and Jon Cross focused on French wines, offering top selections from Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône. Wines from top California producers helped round out the list, which was matched by chef Fernando Darin’s seasonal, modern French cuisine offered in three- and six-course menus. Patina Restaurant Group still operates Restaurant Award winner Lincoln Ristorante in New York City, which holds a Best of Award of Excellence for its 500-label, Italian-focused wine program.—Taylor McBride
Colorado-based chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval opened a new Denver location for his Toro brand on July 20. Located at the JW Marriot hotel in the city’s Cherry Creek neighborhood, Toro Latin Kitchen & Lounge joins Sandoval’s global group of over 45 restaurants, which includes Award of Excellence winner Toro Toro in Miami.
The brand’s Latin influences are on display in Toro’s small, 40-label wine list, which focuses on regions in Argentina, Chile, Spain and Portugal. “Wine and mixology, they play a big role in my restaurants,” Sandoval told Wine Spectator. “We try to get as much [wine] as we can to represent South America.” The program covers a range of Chardonnays and Cabernets, as well as Tempranillos from top Spanish wineries like López de Heredia and Marqués de Griñón. Sandoval visited Spain just before the COVID-19 pandemic started, specifically looking for wines to add to his restaurants’ lists.
Toro’s menu carries a similar spirit to the beverage program, emphasizing the pan-Latin cuisine that Sandoval refers to as “cooking without borders.” Put together by Sandoval, culinary director Carlos Hannon and executive chef Oscar Padilla, the menu focuses on grilled meats, fresh seafood and ceviche, much of it locally sourced. This includes smaller plates like smoked swordfish dip, Colorado bison anticucho, Amarillo ceviche and shrimp cocktail aguachile, plus multiple steak options and diverse sides. Much of the menu is based on Sandoval’s travels throughout Central and South America, while also drawing from Asian cuisines. “There’s some Japanese,” Sandoval said. “You’ll find some Vietnamese influences, some Thai. These are some of my favorite, personal flavors.”
As for ambience, Sandoval’s team designed Toro to bring guests a casual, vibrant atmosphere. With that in mind, the restaurant is decorated with Peruvian textiles and murals painted by local artists, and features a terrace with outdoor seating. “This restaurant was made [for] people to interact, share, see all the different flavors of Latin America,” Sandoval said.—Collin Dreizen
Aug. 7 was the last day of service for chef José Andrés’ two Restaurant Award winners at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.: The Bazaar and Somni. The closures follow a lawsuit filed by the hotel’s owner “alleging defaults that were obviously incapable of being cured while our employees lived through shelter-in-place orders,” according to a statement from Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup.
Somni, an intimate tasting counter concept, debuted in 2018 and has held an Award of Excellence since 2019 for wine director Scott Baker’s 230-selection list emphasizing Spain, France and California. The Bazaar had been housed in the SLS for more than a decade, serving upscale Spanish cuisine, similar to its fellow Restaurant Award–winning location in Miami Beach’s SLS. The 345-selection wine list managed by wine director Andy Myers held a Best of Award of Excellence since 2014. While a spokesperson for the group told Wine Spectator that the team plans to relocate both restaurants, no further details are available yet.—J.H.
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