As is so often the case within the first 10 days (in this case 11) of a new eaterie opening in the South County, chefs and restaurant owners from around the area are many of the first customers, not just keen to scope out the competition but to see who's adding to the vibrant food scene in these parts.
The more (ought to be) the merrier when it comes to culinary offerings and options for eating out and not leaving the immediate area in search of flavors fresh.
And, after all, the whole point of the current farm-to-table flurry is to savor the taste of the region from the perspective of each individual chef's select choice.
With this in mind, I was keen to take an early pew in Petaluma's newly opened Wishbone in the former (three-decade old) Three Cooks breakfast joint, on the Boulevard heading north. The last owner of this old-time eaterie, fry-up fixture Bobby Mangano held court behind the counter for some 27 years. Before Bobby, the locale apparently housed a bbq joint. (The Three Cooks sign that has remained in place alongside a new, giant, Wishbone configeration, is said to date back to eating establishments of up to half a century past.)
In short, there is a bit of history to the place. And I do love a slice of the history pie when it comes to local lore.
Coined for the region's chicken heritage, in the style of contemporaries Henhouse Ales and the like, I found the place to be fairly hopping for a rainy weeknight, despite the fact that parking posed a bit of a problem, especially in the rain.
Restaurateurs from around town were, as predicted, also sampling Wishbone's American home-cooking-style menu, hearty and heavy on local meats and cheese.
Considering its grand old age of 11 days, an atmosphere of casual calm kept one or two kinks in the service system fairly well under control.
Owners of Penngrove's former Humble Pie and Santa Rosa's Blue Label eateries, Miriam Donaldson and Josh Norwitt are, when not otherwise busy raising Scottish Highland Cattle, the creative folk behind Wishbone.
They've done an impressive job in what I'd guess was a relatively low-budget transformation of an old-school breakfast joint with no frills and fancies into a quirky, cool, neighborhood diner of appeal to the visiting Portland foodie just as much as the Petaluma locavore crowd. Lighting is rustic, with fairy-lit tree branches overhead and mis-matched plates. A little red record player adds to the overall element of vintage appeal, though its scratchy sound doesn't really translate in a busy restaurant environment as far as acoustics.
I opted for apple/pumpkin soup, which made for a delicious starter, followed by a bacon-wrapped trout main course. I'm not one to miss out on a well cooked trout and though the fish was delish, I'd ask for it without the bacon next time. Not that there was anything wrong with the bacon, but for my taste, it inteferred a bit with the finish of an otherwise fine fish.
My dining partner for the evening enjoyed a tasty and well presented Petaluma brined pork chop and a zippy little blue cheese meatball starter.
Friends who joined us for their second pit-stop at Wishbone since it opened, enjoyed apple pie desserts, for which the former Humble Pie duo are well known for.
Though the menu's on the pricey side for a restaurant that feels like (and is supposed to feel like) eating a good homemade dinner at a friend's house, in retrospect, I think it's fair to say I'd calculate it wouldn't cost all that much less to cook a locally sourced, organic meal at home, once you've shopped for all the little extras.
As with most eating-out experiences, its the booze that puts the price up and Wishbone's wine selection isn't cheap. There are lots of other options for something to drink, including some well priced and pleasant beers.
With at least six Petaluma eateries specializing in a locally-sourced menu, Wishbone is going to have to stay on top of going the extra mile in its service and substance to keep up with competition, given its out-of-downtown location. If it's an eclectic personality, a commitment to quality ingredients and originality that you're looking for, then Wishbone has a one-of-a-kind appeal.
Located at 841 Petaluma Boulevard North, Wishbone is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Currently serving:
Dinner: 5pm-9pm weeknights / 5pm-10pm weekends
Brunch: 9am-2:30pm Saturday & Sunday
Call 1(707) 763-2663.