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[whitespace] Michael Hirschberg
Photograph by Michael Amsler

Toasting the new century: Mistral owner Michael Hirschberg will be offering a millennial menu for holiday revelers this year.

Dinner Date

Local restaurants unveil multicourse millennial menus for New Year's Eve

By Paula Harris

FIFTY DAYS (or so) and counting. So, what will you be doing on New Year's Eve? Even Y2K worry warts, who swore they wouldn't stray from their La-Z-Boys and the broadcast of Times Square festivities, are beginning to wonder whether they shouldn't mark the momentous occasion in some manner. A happy medium--between jetting to the South Pacific to gaze upon showers of fireworks reflected in tropical waters and barricading oneself in the basement with flashlight, freeze-dried food, and a firearm--might simply be a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant.

Local chefs are cooking up some mouthwatering festivities, but don't procrastinate--seating is limited and reservations are filling fast.

Here's just a taste of what's on some millennium menus:

Santa Rosa's Syrah is having a true blowout. "We're calling it 'An Obscenely Decadent New Year's Eve Menu,' " says chef-owner Josh Silvers. And he's not kidding. Bring your appetite and a loaded wallet. The 12-course extravaganza costs $225 per person plus tax (without wine). The mammoth menu: oysters on the half shell with blood orange and champagne sorbet; eggs with caviar, chive, and potato; lobster bisque cappuccino with tarragon chantilly; "ménage à trois" tartare of scallops, salmon, and tuna; grapefruit-chervil ice; sweetbread and foie gras vol-au-vents; wild mushrooms, whole-grain mustard cream, and herb demi-glace; grilled venison loin with mascarpone polenta and cranberry jus; tournados of filet mignon with lobster hash and fines herbes hollandaise; baby greens with a Meyer lemon and truffle vinaigrette; brioche beignet with café latte crème anglaise; syrah-port poached pear with caramelized filo; and finally, eggnog and orange baked Alaska with a glass of champagne at midnight.

For an extra charge, you can pair each course with a different libation--uh, Alka-Seltzer perhaps? Not at all, says Silvers. "This is just a tasting of these dishes. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to walk!"

Silvers says he wanted to create a traditional and opulent New Year's supper. "How are you going to bring the millennium in with a Burger King dinner and the tube?" he asks. "These are almost all classic dishes from the last century. We wanted to go out with all the classic food." Seating is between 7 and 9:30 p.m. Call 566-9468.

If you consider Syrah pricy then brace yourself--John Ash & Co. beats it. Bring your appetite and a bank loan. The damage will be $275 per person for six courses (each paired with alcoholic beverage) should you reserve the second seating from 8:30 to 10 p.m. The 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. first seating costs $175 per person. Dinner choices include baked Tomales Bay oysters on spinach leaves with champagne and chive vinaigrette; confit of Sonoma duck with arugula blood orange salad; and Maine lobster tail with risotto and chanterelle mushrooms. And there'll be live music. Call 527-7687.

AT THE OTHER end of the spectrum, the folks over at Dempsey's Alehouse in Petaluma tell us they've decided not to "gouge, spiff-up, or go hog wild" on New Year's Eve. Instead, the restaurant and microbrewery will extend Happy Hour and offer notable nightly specials at the regular prices. Call 765-9694.

Mistral in Santa Rosa is offering two alternatives: " 'The Early Show' is intended for diners who want to enjoy a special meal before proceeding to wherever they will be on the stroke of midnight," explains owner Michael Hirschberg. "And 'The Late Show' is intended for diners who want to ring in the new millennium at Mistral."

The Early Show four-course dinner is $35 per person. Tables are available from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The Late Show (which also features a tasting flight of sparkling wines, a dessert buffet at midnight, and dinner jazz) is $49 per person and begins at 10 p.m. For details, call 578-4511.

In Sonoma, Heirloom is celebrating with a six-course dinner for $95 per person. Highlights include quail consommé with truffle essence; monkfish medallions with lobster dumplings and chanterelle mushrooms; organic beef filet with salsify purée, marrow, and truffle jus; and warm chocolate torte with ginger sabayon. Staffers say the dinner will a relaxing affair with no live music. Seating is between 5:30 and 10 p.m. Call 939-6955.

Sondra Bernstein, owner of The Girl and the Fig, also promises a tranquil alternative, this time in Glen Ellen, with a five-course meal paired with Rhône wines for $75 per person. "It's going to be a friendly, mellow fine dining experience as opposed to frenzy and noisemakers," she says. Menu choices include grilled scallops with apple and smoked bacon; mushroom risotto; and pan-seared Liberty duck. Call 939-3634.

And Papa's Taverna on the Petaluma River guarantees a rollicking good time for all in fine European fashion. The festivities (which cost $65 per person) will include a Greek singing duo, live polka music, and a belly-dance show, plus a four-item dinner featuring "New York steak, lamb, and fish--and champagne at midnight," according to manager Jimmy Pappageorge. "It's going to be very festive and nicely decorated," he enthuses. "And everyone's going to join in." Call 769-8545.

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From the November 11-17, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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