Monday, December 5, 2016

Here in the comment section you have the liberal view of excellence. If they cannot afford it then it shouldn't be. What a dyspeptic bunch of NIMBY's IT's the mindset of a radical egalitarian.


First Look: Single Thread Farms Restaurant

Though Kyle and Katina Connaughton’s highly-anticipated Healdsburg restaurant officially opens this week, the kitchen and dining room have been in full swing doing “friends and family” meals to iron out any wrinkles in the luxe, multi-course restaurant experience. But here, friends and family testing out the menu included esteemed toques John Ash and Top Chef Master’s winner Douglas Keane making their way through nine courses at nearby tables, as we got a first glimpse.
For more than a year, Connaughton and several key members of the staff have been preparing for the opening — which included preparing the Connaughton’s Healdsburg farm, along with a complete build-out of the North Street building with custom kitchen areas and carefully curated dining experience. It’s something to behold.
Photo: Jason Jaacks
Photo: Jason Jaacks
Let’s talk about the price, first. With a $295 price tag per person (not including wine or non-alcoholic pairings), the restaurant has had its share of critics even before opening, questioning the steep price tag for a restaurant that has yet to get a Michelin star or even a review. To put it in context, similarly haute dining experiences have similar costs.Chef Christopher Kostow’s 10-course tasting menu at the three-Michelin starred Meadowood is $330 per person (excluding wine) or $500 for a “counter menu” inside the kitchen. The also three-starred French Laundry is $310 per person without tax, tip or drinks. San Francisco’s Saison, which has the distinction of being the most expensive restaurant in the region, also three-stars, is $398-$498 (for special holidays) per personwithout tax, tip or drinks.  Douglas Keane’s Cyrus, which closed in 2012, was over $800 for two people when we visited.
Photo: Eric Wolfinger
Photo: Eric Wolfinger
So, why in the world would someone pay that much for a single meal? Again, context. Meals like those at Meadowood, French Laundry, and what Connaughton hopes his restaurant will become, are bespoke experiences using precious ingredients (abalone, Mangalitsa pig, foie gras) as well as highly labor-intensive sauces and preparations. Food is served as art, with two or three chefs using tweezers to place each garnish, each tiny flower or microgreen. For a food connoisseur, it’s a one in a lifetime experience with as much beauty and joy as, say, driving a beautiful car or buying a well-crafted suit or dress. Though ephemeral, how is it different, exactly, from a stay in a luxurious hotel or even a penny-pinching weekend trip to Gualala (my own luxury indulgence)?
And memorable the experience was, from the moment we opened the door to the restaurant, to our final bite of chocolate. Walking into the silent, enclosed reception area sets the tone, where guests can peek through a window into the silent kitchen. Silent.
A massive door opens into the dining room, with just a handful of tables, the most fascinating of which is a theater table where guests can sit side by side, with an unobstructed view of the kitchen, where Connaughton and his staff work at two massive islands, hunched over a collection of pottery plates, bowls, donabe and hand-crafted flatware created in Japan. Truly the service ware is one of the most artful parts of the meal.
Connaughton’s influences are micro-seasonal (whatever is perfectly ripe at the moment) and Japanese “kaiseki”, a traditional multi-course meal that is as artful as delicious.
At Single Thread, the first course is served on a perfectly-arranged display of wood, moss and flowers, creating a sort of adventure in finding each tiny bite — from whelk inside it shell, to pheasant wrapped in a fig leaf, Miyagi oysters and a nibble of Dungeness crab with ponzu. It’s followed by a single blue egg nestled in a nest of moss, with smoke sabayon, then a dish of umeboshi plums and beets, red jewels on gently scalloped plate.
The courses continue for hours, one with a donut-shaped wooden plate with Mangalitsa jowl and watercress puree; abalone in onion sauce with foam, foie gras on a bed of persimmon leaves, fermented local farro in a matsutake mushroom broth, or guinea hen roulade in pumpkin puree. Each course is a simple bite or two, carefully thought out from plate and utensil to the carefully-placed microgreens.
That leaves plenty of room for a multi-course dessert menu that included frozen fromage blanc with quince reduction and puffed amarynth, or an “apple” made of chocolate, filled with cream and Gravenstein apple sorbet.
Photo: Jason Jaacks
Photo: Jason Jaacks
On-trend, Single Thread offers both wine pairings and a non-alcoholic pairing. Though the pairing still needs work to jive with the dishes, it was far more fun to try white tea, cucumber soda with lemon and mint, a turmeric shrub with smoked salt and grenadine, or a mocktail with spicy mustard greens, non-alcoholic “gin” and lime, or a matsutake mushroom and lemon verbena tea.
There are still details being worked out, and like any preview dinner, staff were still figuring out how to provide the kind of luxury service and attention that diners of this caliber will demand. We’re confident, however, that Single Thread will be a culinary jewel in the crown of the Sonoma County dining scene, showcasing the unique bounty of our county — from our farms to Connaughton’s beautiful tables.
A note: I was unable to get access to take photos of the food before posting this article, so what you see in the above photos is not necessarily representative of the meal we experienced. Hopefully we’ll be able to show you more pix soon.
Single Thread Farms Restaurant: 131 North St, Healdsburg,, reservations at




  • Panther says:DECEMBER 3, 2016 AT 2:17 PM
    It warms my heart to see the well deserved vitriol here directed at such a tone deaf elitist endeavor. 99% of us will react with glee when this single thread unravels and this immoral slop shop shuts down. Cheers!
  • CB says:DECEMBER 3, 2016 AT 9:05 AM
    Comparing their prices to other high end restaurants doesn’t make sense. The fact is that Single Thread’s cost is a quantum leap above anything else in our area. And as for Cyrus–their multicourse dinner was $130 per person, well below Single Thread’s $294. If two spent $800 for dinner at Cyrus, they must have splurged on caviar and pricey wines.
    • Jenne says:DECEMBER 5, 2016 AT 8:41 AM
      I have little interest in Saison OR Single Thread – celebrity chefs are no better than Roland Passot or Chris Jones – but comparing Cyrus’ prices to Single Thread is ridiculous. In 2010 our pair of eight-course meals at Cyrus with tip came to $342. That was WITHOUT ALCOHOL; we drank water the entire meal. With rising food costs and labor, Single Thread is (regrettably) priced evenly with its competitors, if not its geographic area. Cyrus has been closed for years; I have no doubt Keane would be pricing Cyrus right up there with Saison if it were still open.
  • susan says:DECEMBER 3, 2016 AT 12:12 AM
    I woud be embarrased to be seen there.
  • RZA says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 8:07 PM
    The median income people who live in Healdsburg are the minority, look at who the town, businesses, real estate and hotels cater to and then tell me where the median income are. Everybody complains about how Healdsburg lost its wholesome small town feeling yet most of you who’ve been there forever have obviously done financially well to make it. I’m pretty sure your rentals are being rented and your properties values have gone up or you’ve made a pretty penny selling it to some family looking to settle into a small town. There are rich and poor in Healdsburg and nobody does anything about it except complain, either grow a pair and start a revolution or enjoy the sale of your 2 bedroom house on Matheson selling for 1.2 million. These people opened a business which i’m sure if your bad mouthing there decision to you haven’t or maybe you have and didn’t change with the times and town allowing your business to be swallowed up by a cupcake shop. I’m sure if it was a clothing store or art gallery you people wouldn’t complain about high priced art and clothes. The same tax dollars also go towards the schools which by most standards can be way better, so god forbid those tax dollars make a better future for kids. As far as the Healdsburg locals? They are disappearing and being replaced by 30 year olds and their families who want a small town feeling, its all happening in front of you people yet nobody ever complains or fights it. Hypocrites
    • Redwood says:DECEMBER 3, 2016 AT 9:22 PM
      Thank you for saying that.
      Hard-working, customer-loyal people that start a new business that produces a product good enough to make a decent living for the staff should be commended. 
      Making a middle-income salary/wage as a hospitality worker in Healdsburg is almost impossible, and if they found a way to make rich people from somewhere else drop $600 instead of $400 more power to them!
  • Lydia Wootten says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 7:32 PM
    I am thrilled to welcome Single Thread to Healdsburg. Sonoma County offers a wide range of options when it comes to prices and I appreciate the opportunity we have to eat great food with prices ranging from low to high. I look forward to going to Single Thread and then deciding whether it is a place I will frequent often, rarely or if it is a place that is not for me.
    • DirtyPirateHooker says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 8:54 PM
      Well, aren’t we fickle. Swipe left.
  • michale says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 6:34 PM
    The tasting menu is always impressive. All the thought and effort that goes in to sourcing and preparing each ingredient must be perfectly coordinated and timed. It just seems a little too pretentious. It has its devotees certainly. But if you want a meal that will keep you from getting hungry in the next short period of time, eat elsewhere.
  • Tanya says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 5:19 PM
    I think the problem many Healdsburg locals have with Singlethread is the overriding feeling of exclusivity exuded by the operation. 
    They did a poor job reaching out to locals, hiring locals and supporting local. I get that this type of restaurant is for the well-heeled who will fly in (on private jets) from out of town, drop a lot of coin, then fly home to Aspen. That’s fine I guess; we still live in a hyper-capitalist system. It’s just that on the heels of the passionate debates regarding expensive housing and affordability in general, Singlethread comes across as extremely tone deaf. Sure, Healdsburg will get additional tourist tax dollars, but little else, in my humble opinion. 
    I’ll never eat there. I will, however, continue to support our local restaurant heroes who really are committed to the local community.
  • Tom says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 3:43 PM
    Ordered a pizza at an upscale pizzeria . Large with pepperoni , salami, mushrooms, green peppers and arugula. The bill was $126 . I protessted and the waiter said, ” You know, we place every pepperoni,, salami, shroom, pepper and arugula with tweezers to give a feeling of love for the finished pizza. Enjoy! “
  • Jordan says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 3:10 PM
    I hate to say it, but this restaurant will not make when the next recession hits town. Even the rich get nervous when their millions start to dwindle… Gold plated problems.
  • DirtyPirateHooker says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 1:43 PM
    Single thread of micro green singed with a strike anywhere blue tip (DIY) $85 on the childless menu.
  • Jim says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 1:00 PM
    Outside Elitist coming into town…no one with the median income who lives in Healdsburg will ever go to this restaurant..get rid of these elitist and bring back good wholesome food
  • Tim says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 10:38 AM
    Another place leaving with empty stomach and wallet.
    • Tom says:DECEMBER 2, 2016 AT 12:09 PM
      Gotta stop by Roundtable for a TO GO HOME pizza after leaving with an empty stomach and wallet . Orrrrrrrrrrrr Take the pizza with you to chomp tween bite size courses. What a joke

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