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Spinster Sisters

Columnist: Karen Hart
November, 2018 Issue

Karen Hart
All articles by columnist


401 S A Street
Santa Rosa, Calif. 95401
(707) 528-710

New American Restaurant & Wine Bar
Open Daily: Breakfast & Lunch
Dinner (Tuesday to Saturday)
5-9 p.m.
Wine/Beer/Hard Cider

Built in the 1920s, Spinster Sisters was once a small Italian market in downtown Santa Rosa. The original owners had five daughters, and as the story goes, two of their daughters—Isolena and Claudina—never married and lived upstairs above the market. When new owners Liza Hinman and Eric Anderson purchased the building six years ago to launch their new restaurant, they wanted a name that embraced its history.

The term “spinster” first entered the English language in the mid-1300s and referred to a woman—married or not—who spun yard and thread. It later evolved to mean a single woman and the word carried a smidge of impoliteness in my grandmothers’ generation. As a young girl, I was fairly certain that was a fate I wanted to avoid. Names aside, Spinster Sisters offers a casual, warm hip vibe and is located in the South A Street Art District—more commonly known as SOFA.

Alex and I arrive on a Wednesday evening. Our server is Brady Osborne, who recommends sharing plates as the best way to experience Spinster Sisters. We begin with wine by the glass. All wines are natural and organic and there’s a nice selection of local and international choices. Spinster Sisters offers an eclectic menu that changes seasonally and portions are perfect for sharing. Next, we try two small plates—the kimchi-bacon deviled eggs and smoked trout dip. The dip, garnished with King Salmon caviar and served with bagel chips, is smoky and creamy. The pickled fresno chilies give it a welcome brightness. The deviled eggs are a fun take on a classic with kimchi and bacon.

Chef-owner Liza Hinman’s approach to food is all about using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Plates are beautifully presented and the creations of Hinman often offer a fresh take on classic comfort foods. Growing up in the Midwest, I consider myself something of an expert when it comes to corn fritters, which are typically served with maple syrup. But at Spinster Sisters, the West African corn and coconut fritters, are light and savory, served with a spicy Sriracha aioli. According to Osborne, they’re also a customer favorite.

For the entrée, we shared the braised chicken with honey and mission figs, served on a generous portion of creamy polenta and sautéed Swiss chard. Cooked to perfection, the chicken is moist and savory comfort food. We also indulged in a side order of Kennebec fries, perfectly salted and crisp, and served with their signature SOFA sauce. 

Next time your strolling the neighborhood and visiting the galleries in the SOFA district, stop by Spinster Sisters to experience the ever-evolving creations of Hinman. As we left for the evening, I couldn’t stop thinking of Isolena and Claudina, who I learned were known to roast a rabbit every Sunday night. Somehow the –ster in spinster sounds new in our modern-day vernacular. Maybe we can thank hipsters for that. In any case, I like to think Isolena and Claudina lived an unconventional life for their time and add to the warm, hip ambience of Spinster Sisters. I suspect they would love knowing they’re still remembered on this corner of the SOFA District.


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