Michael Bauer celebrates the best of Bay Area dining his 23rd annual guide. SingleThread was included in 2018's Top 100 Restaurants.
Chef Kyle Connaughton explains his obsession with ingredients by saying, “I have to go to bed each night with my farmer.”
His wife and partner, Katina Connaughton, is in charge of their 5-acre farm and uses a Japanese almanac that lists 72 seasons, during which some produce is at its peak for just four to five days. On a recent visit to their Healdsburg restaurant, one of the dishes was end-of-the-season crab (both steamed and tempura fried) paired with first-of-the-season squash accented with yuba (tofu skins), makrut lime, kani miso and a frothy seafood sauce. Every dish on the 11-plus course menu ($295) has a precise reason for being there. Together the couple have created a four-star experience that resonates on every level.
Each dinner begins with a preset arrangement of about 10 items, including several raw fish dishes, a custard with caviar, and slices of smoked duck. Then three additional dishes arrive, including a piece of yellowtail collar topped with uni. This becomes an introduction to the first official course: slices of yellowtail sashimi with creamy charred citrus puree and a translucent chard-citrus gelee. The restaurant, which also includes a five-room inn, has an elegant, uplifting Japanese feel, with flawless attention to detail. The service is just as well executed as the food, creating one of the most exciting dining experiences in the United States.