St. Francis Winery honored by Open Table

  • St. Francis Winery's event captain Kelley Mingram serves a seared scallop dish to Beth Dugdale, left, and Martin Friedburg both of Michigan during a food and wine pairing, Thursday, January 3, 2013. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

The nation's favorite restaurant, at least according to one website's rankings, turns out not to be a restaurant at all.

The online restaurant reservation site Open Table has crowned Santa Rosa's St. Francis Winery and Vineyards as the favorite eating establishment in the entire country, with a near perfect 4.9-out-of-5-star record from diners who filed reviews. That's eight places higher than the closest other local standout, The French Laundry in Yountville, which came in at No. 9 with a 4.8 rating.

The victory left the winery management delighted but slightly perplexed.

"We are profoundly grateful for this," said Christopher Silva, president and CEO at St. Francis. "In fact, we're a bit overwhelmed."

The winery, he said, had at one point told Open Table that they aren't really a restaurant in a legal or technical sense, but the website said that any establishment that accepts reservations through the system is included in the rankings.

"It is a wine-and-food tasting," Silva said. "People can't come in and order off a separate menu."

The tasting costs $45 per person, $36 for wine club members.

Open Table did not make anyone available for an interview on Monday, but a spokeswoman confirmed that the service does not distinguish between types of reservation-based establishments, so St. Francis counts as a restaurant for their purposes.

The website did not provide the total number of votes counted for each establishment, nor did it lay out the exact formula used to calculate the rankings. It only said that there had been 58 reviews for St. Francis since Aug. 18. Of those, 55 were 5-star and three were 4-star.

St. Francis's rating on the review website Yelp, which does not tie votes to a confirmed reservation nor prompt diners for a review, are strong but slightly lower than Open Table's — a rating of 4 (out of 5) stars. French Laundry, meanwhile, performs slightly better there, with a 4.5 rating.

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