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The Pullman Kitchen

Author: Julie Fadda Powers
January, 2015 Issue

The Pullman Kitchen
205 5th St.
Santa Rosa
(707) 545-4300
Cal-Mediterranean Cuisine
Lunch and dinner Mon.-Fri.
Brunch and dinner Sat.-Sun.
Entrées (dinner): $14-$28
Nice wine list
Housed where Syrah and, later, Three Squares Café, were located, The Pullman Kitchen pulled into town in April 2014. Chef/Owner Darren McRonald and Chef John Trunk are at the helm with Jay Wyant-King managing the front of the house. All three were previously with Cindy Pawlcyn’s restaurant group in St. Helena, and Santa Rosa is very happy to have them on this side of the hill.
The restaurant itself is named with a nod to the Pullman dining car as well as its home in Railroad Square. Its interior features an open kitchen, with inviting dark wood, metallic and leather furnishings. There’s a private dining room called the caboose as well as tables outside in the building’s attractive hallway (it’s like an inside garden). The wine and beer lists feature both local and international selections. We started with “Midas Touch” from Dogfish Head brewery (Del.; brewed with saffron, it’s a hoppy, sassy choice) and 2012 La Cabotte Cotes du Rhone Villages GSM (masculine, tannic, dark fruit) to accompany the warm bread, olive oil and olives brought to the table once we ordered.
The soup of the day was French onion, made with plenty of Vidalia onions (my favorite kind next to Walla Wallas), finished with guyere and a side of delicious toasted bread (I wanted more of it but somehow controlled myself).
The ruby grapefruit and avocado salad came with wild arugula, lots of frisée, thin-sliced radishes and pomegranate seeds, lightly dressed with a drizzle of crème fraîche.
For appetizers, we chose bacon-wrapped dates (there were three and they were perfectly cooked and balanced between sweet and salty flavors) and yellowfin tuna poke, which was very fresh, tasty and lovely with a great kick, featuring sesame seeds, pine nuts, Sriracha, pickled ginger, daikon sprouts and garnished with fried wontons—we loved it.
Our first entrée was Moroccan braised lamb shank that melted in our mouths and had perfect Mediterranean spices. A generous portion of a very high quality piece of meat, it came with couscous, dried fruit and preserved lemon, a wonderful blend of earthy and sweet flavors that’s seriously what I dream of when I hear or see the words “lamb shank.”
And JT’s fish tacos were equally compelling. With fresh, perfectly breaded and fried fish wrapped in flour tortillas and crisp cabbage, they transported us straight to Baja, complete with the traditional garnish of sliced radish and lime.
For dessert, there was a choice of persimmon and spice pudding, apple and golden raisin crisp, double chocolate budino for two (very tempting) or house made ice cream and cookies. Being total ice cream heads, we went for that, and chose the white chocolate. It was thick and well marbled with the chocolate, served with two chocolate chip cookies (great for dipping). Top that off with some full-bodied coffee, and we were happy as could be.

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