Santa Rosa: Eating and Drinking on Courthouse Square; restaurant review


A highlight of walking into this cozy spot for refreshment is viewing a golden wall of bourbons. It’s a wowzer! Seems like a no brainer what drink you might want to try. But, as you might expect from the name, the Beer Baron Bar & Kitchen also has plenty of beers (24 on tap) and wines. And let’s not forget the cocktails. Two that are worth swallowing are the easy and colorful Monarch Warrior–made with ruby red port and Monarch citrus bay leaf bitter–and the Northern Song–made with Ming River Baijiu, green chili, soy sauce, and more and served in an irresistible kitty-shaped mug. Popular small plates include smoked olive-oil guacamole, Belgian-style duck-fat fries, and delicious deep-fried pulled-pork nuggets.
You’ll find no cocktails at Belly Left Coast, but the huge beer list includes 35 by the bottle and 32 on tap. Choosing a flight of four 5-ounce tasters seems the way to go, but you are also welcome to two complimentary mini tastes. I enjoyed sampling the Humboldt Cider Honey Cider and the Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ ale, settling on the ale. Taco Tuesday–when most tacos are $1 each–is a particularly good time to visit. The menu also offers tasty bacon-wrapped dates, pulled-pork sliders, a delectable grilled artichoke, and excellent pizzas (the mushroom-arugula is a personal favorite). This spot is justly known for its delicious desserts, including a beer-infused Campfire Stout chocolate mousse topped with spun sugar. The chef’s credentials are impressive. According to the website: “What do Motley Crue, KISS, Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Blink 182, Godsmack, Tori Amos, and Linkin Park all have in common? They had Chef Gray Rollin, Owner of BELLY, as a personal chef in over 66 countries for 10 years.” And the rest of his bio is pretty interesting, too.
Situated upstairs on the second level, lively Perch+Plow has a spectacular decor featuring colorfully painted walls with big graphics, a variety of seating and spaces, and a large bar. Appetizers and cocktails are the way to go, but larger plates and beer and wine are also on the menu. Two photo-worthy drinks are the Purple Rain, which is colored with butterfly pea tea, and the Smoking Gun, which involves bourbon, brown sugar, and cherry-wood smoke. Several mocktails are also options–I enjoyed the tall and lovely Pink Lady made with hibiscus, strawberry puree, and soda. Among the spectacularly tasty food items are baked brie with honey and sourdough toast, pan-roasted brussels sprouts tossed with walnut gremolata and whiskey maple bacon jam, and buttermilk fritto misto with calamari in a sweet chili sauce.