I know some people don't put much stock by Michelin ratings, but when we found ourselves staying just down the road from a one-star in Sebastopol last week, Husbear couldn't be stopped.
So, between prep for last Saturday's risotto class, we walked down the block from Viva to K & L Bistro, a small restaurant that's just been recently esteemed by the powers that be.
The place has a very comfortable bistro feel, with a banquette and tables crowded along one wall and an open kitchen at the back. Desserts and specials are written up on wall-mounted blackboards, a down-market touch that drew my eye.
Our hearts were immediately won by the presence of half-liters of house wine at $12. We ordered a refreshing Bordeaux Blanc.
Our waitress came over to recite the specials, and two of the appetizers sounded too good to pass up - one with salt cod and one with rabbit. I haven't seen sat cod (baccala) on a menu since Italy!
The rabbit was in mousse form and done very Frenchily. LOTS of butter and cream, along with a very strong flavor we agreed was definitely alcohol.
The rabbit mousse toasts were served on top of a delicious endive and bacon salad (what's not to like there?) and topped with a sprinkle of egg. Yum.
The second appetizer special was a salt cod brandade. We're both big fans of salt cod, when it's prepared well, and this definitely was. Chunks of the fish were mixed with potatoes, along with cream and garlic and some other seasonings that weren't overly assertive. The baccala mixture was delicious, and spreading it on toasts with a little of their outstanding tapenade made it perfection.
Plus, it had a crunchy top.
We split our entree, a house-made boudin blanc. This is a traditional French sausage - theirs was made with chicken and pork. The sausage itself was not the standout on this plate, since it was a little dry... but the fries, fried in rice oil. The rice oil gave the fries a clean flavor, and they were amazingly crispy. We asked for and received a deliciously garlicky aioli for dipping.
The salad of apples and endive was flavorful and light, a good counterpoint to the heavy sausage and fried fries.
K & L was a whole lot of fun. It's the midrange kind of restaurant we're missing in Austin, with good, hearty French-style food at a reasonable pricepoint. If we lived in the area, we'd definitely be back for dinner. As it is, this made a great stop and got Husbear in a good mood for his risotto class.
K & L Bistro, 119 S. Main Street, Sebastopol CA. 707.823.6614. Reservations recommended.