On St. Patrick’s Day, it is probably harder not to eat Irish than it is to find a traditional meal near you. There’s a round up of familiar and not-so-familiar options at the Bite Club blog, which you can find here.
I love the traditional meal. I’m always reminded of something a close friend said once about Thanksgiving. “It doesn’t matter if it is actually good,” he said when we were discussing traditional v. nontraditional ways to celebrate, “It matters that we are all eating the same thing. It’s an important ritual.” I took his point to heart. Pass me another slice of corned beef, please.
My top picks include Cafe Europe, in the shopping center located at the corner of Calistoga Rd. and Highway 12 in east Santa Rosa. They’ll be serving corned beef, cabbage and parsley potatoes with a choice of soup or salad for $15 at both lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and dinner (4:30 to 9 p.m.) German Pilsner is on tap. Your host, the charming Hubert Zucker, is one of the things that makes this a special place. Chef Robert is a fine cook, too, with a pleasingly pristine sensibility. Because the day is usually quite busy, reservations are recommended (call 538-5255).
If you’re in west county, head to Casino Bar in the town of Bodega, where Mark Malicki will be serving green lentil soup with braised pork belly ($6), Dungeness crab toast with lemon mayonnaise and butter lettuce ($10), corned beef brisket, cabbage and spring vegetables ($12) and strawberry rhubarb fool ($6). Mark usually starts serving around 4 and continues until 10ish. No reservations; just stop by.
Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg has a few specials for the day, including Shamrock cookies and green cupcakes. You should also pay attention to community gathering places such as the Sebastopol Masonic Center, where there will be a traditional dinner. If the price of gas weren’t so ridiculous these days, I’d have driven throughout the county gathering all the details. But since it is, I haven’t and instead offer my best advice: These are community events so look close to home. Part of the joy of dining out is running into friends unexpectedly. No matter where you live in the county, there should be something fairly close. And don’t forget to ask at your favorite bistro, bakery or cafe. Many places feature Irish specials on St. Paddy’s Day but never put out the word.