Sonoma County's high-profile restaurants — Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, Sante at the Sonoma Mission Inn in Sonoma, John Ash & Co. in Santa Rosa, to name just three — draw people from everywhere to taste the famous foods and wines.
Then there are the gastronomic treasures that fly under the tourists' radar, known mostly to locals in this most exceptional region — places like Terrapin Creek Café in Bodega Bay, Harvest Moon Café in Sonoma, Spinster Sisters in Santa Rosa, or Hot Box Grill in Boyes Hot Springs.
Finally, there are jewels even less well known that fly deep under the radar of even many local folks. Remember Twisted Vines in Petaluma? It was part wine shop, run by Dick Warner, and part restaurant, where wife and co-owner Julie Warner did some exceptional cooking. It closed a while back, although the wine shop stayed open.
Now the couple has opened Twisted 2 in the same Lan Mart Building where Twisted Vines was located, but in even smaller quarters. The new place seats 20 patrons at most in its 360 square feet.
A $35 corkage fee lets you know how much Dick Warner wants you to buy a bottle from the list or pair the courses of the prix fixe dinner menu with wines he selects. Although the corkage is prohibitively steep, the wines themselves are reasonably priced. During “happy hour and a half” from 5 to 6:30 p.m., a six-ounce pour of 2011 Stuhlmuller Chardonnay (an exceptional wine with a Meursault-like flavor) is $8, and a similarly sized glass of Bluenose Zinfandel is $7.50. There are also some tasty bites available from the closet-sized kitchen during this happy 90 minutes, like a grilled ahi sandwich with lime-ginger mayo for $12, or mole pozole soup for $8.
The Warners decided to limit their business to three days — Thursdays through Saturdays — from 5 to 10 p.m., at least for now. The fixed price menu with wines paired with each course is $95, and without wine, $60. If you like well-chosen wines that harmonize with your food, the extra $35 is well worth it.