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High-end local restaurants change up offerings for takeout menus during pandemic

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As we’re all getting used to living in our pajamas and dining inside a restaurant seems like a fond, distant memory, we’re finding more comfort in takeout or delivered meals. There’s self-care involved, certainly, keeping us all well fed. But the goal also is to help our many wonderful restaurants, small local farms and food purveyors survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Staying home has been a personal whiplash for me, a diner by profession. But I’ve also been very impressed that our Wine Country restaurants have responded so quickly — and elegantly — to home meals. Even our top chef restaurant teams have answered the call, soothing us with the knowledge that even though we can’t enjoy their gorgeous settings and polished service for the time being, we can still feast on their fine fare. Ordering is as easy as visiting the restaurants’ websites and clicking away.

We want the fine dining restaurants back in business as soon as possible, but on a silver lining note, the crisis offers a rare opportunity for us to sample somema spectacular cooking that might otherwise be out of our wallet-range. The tony Valette in Healdsburg, for example, is offering three-course, sophisticated suppers for just $39 per person.

Another bonus: we’re now able to enjoy wine and cocktails as takeout, and many top restaurants are opening their cellars for fine wines at deep discounts. So go ahead, treat yourself to these chef-crafted meals, served at your own dining table.

SingleThread

Who would ever have thought we’d see this ultra-posh three Michelin Star destination preparing takeout? But chef-owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton are offering a daily pickup menu, served via the restaurant’s back parking lot.

Cooking remains high-end, changing nightly and tempting with family-style feasts for four (recipes are crafted with a nod to making excellent leftovers, too, Kyle noted). That means a recent meal brought me juicy fukkura-san chicken (donabe style, cooked in a rustic Japanese clay pot) with saffron couscous, roast cauliflower fatteh, warm housemade flatbreads, hummus, red pepper labneh and olive oil cake dolloped in citrus compote for $90 (a real deal at $22.50 per person).

You’ve got to plan ahead, though. Suppers must be ordered and pre-paid via online Tock, preferably 24 hours in advance. Menus for the upcoming week are released on Tock at noon on Wednesdays.

Also, meals are limited to 25 packages per night. For the past two weeks, I’ve seen lots of “sold out” banners on the website.

And while wine is a great deal at retail store price, you have to send a separate email directly to the restaurant to order it.

Details: 131 North St. Healdsburg, 707-723-4646, singlethreadfarms.com

Mateo’s Cocina Latina

During January’s Healdsburg Tastemakers weekend, I got to cook pollo alcaparrado alongside chef Mateo Granados at his Healdsburg restaurant, and I fell in love with the complexly-flavored braised chicken and rice dish.

That’s because Granados salts a whole trimmed blue foot chicken; sears it golden in olive oil; adds capers, olives, oak-aged sherry vinegar, chopped root veggies like carrots, onion and potatoes plus celery and brings it all to a boil.

Next, he adds the chicken feet, neck and liver for extra rich flavor, splashes in a bit of water, then pops the pan in the oven to braise until it’s insanely tender.

You scoop it all up in warm handmade tortillas and swoon.

That dish is a favorite on his new online takeout menu for $18.

We can get it along with other Yucatan classics like his mouthwatering cochinita pibil or fall-apart-tender annatto seed-marinated pork wrapped in banana leaves and slow roasted, served with cured red onions, rice, beans and handmade tortillas ($20), or whole roasted Bodega rock cod stuffed with seasonal vegetables and plated with house cured cabbage, rice, beans and handmade tortillas ($40, serves two to three).

Add in a seasonal margarita ($12) and it’s perfect.

You can cook like Mateo at home, too, with his handy kits.

A Huevos Rancheros Kit ($15 per person) includes everything you need for his classic platter, with directions on how to craft the crispy housemade tostada, olive oil fried egg and tomato-habañero sauce sprinkled in queso fresco.

Details: 214 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-1520, mateoscocinalatina.com

El Dorado Kitchen

The hotel is closed, but the contemporary California restaurant is keeping things lively with an extensive order-by-phone pickup menu and wines at 50% off.

Start with an appetizer of burrata partnered with sweet-tart huckleberry sauce, garlic confit, mostarda di frutta, balsamic jelly and flatbread ($15).

Segue to an entrée of paella stocked with shrimp, calamari, market fish, chorizo, crispy Bomba rice, saffron and lemon ($33). Then finish with dessert of churros dunked in caramel sauce ($8).

You can also feed your whole family of four with multi-meals such as 12-piece fried chicken with coleslaw, potato salad, corn bread and frijoles charros ($70) or braised beef short ribs with potato puree, roasted vegetables and fresh-baked bread ($90).

Details: 405 First West St., Sonoma, 707-996-3030, eldoradosonoma.com

Valette

Grabbing an exquisite three-course meal from super-chef Dustin Valette is as easy as filling out the online menu form or calling the restaurant, then stopping in for curbside pickup.

It’s a remarkable bargain, too, for this admittedly expensive destination, since takeout brings a three-course meal for just $39, plus bottled wines priced at 40% off (try the luscious Valette 2018 Rosé for $25 or Valette 2017 Pinot Noir for $50).

Meanwhile, for anyone experiencing extreme financial difficulty, dinners can be requested at no cost, by emailing info@valettehealdsburg.com.

Chef Valette changes the multiple option menu nightly, but a recent lineup offered swanky appetizers such as Hawaiian ahi poke with Strong Arm Farm Santa Rosa’s kombu wakame seaweed, warm avocado and soy emulsion or housemade pasta tossed with duck sausage, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fennel confit, roasted peppers and fava tip pistou.

My entrée choices were high-end, including brown sugar-brined pork rack with Bernier Farms Geyserville braised mustard greens, spiced apple mustard, smoked pork belly and pickled onions or butter-roasted local petrale sole with charred octopus, Valette garden-grown onion blossoms, saffron poached potatoes, caper vinaigrette and espelette.

Dessert beckoned with choices like “It’s Not a Snickers Bar” decorated with cocoa nib tuile, peanut powder and caramel or Meyer lemon panna cotta topped in preserved blackberry jam and vanilla crème fraiche.

And because Valette is a dad to two young girls, he knows the little ones don’t want to feel left out. So kids can order housemade pasta tumbled in local butter and parmesan ($7).

Details: 344 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-473-0946 valettehealdsburg.com

Glen Ellen Star

Chef Ari Weiswasser previously worked as chef de partie at French Laundry, so it feels extra special to be able to savor his California-Mediterranean bistro cuisine even as casual pizzeria fare during these stressful times.

Order online and pick up curbside, for simple but satisfying sustenance such as wood-oven pies topped in Italian sausage, arugula and white sauce ($19); mozzarella, tomato and basil ($17) or the signature tomato cream pie dotted with Aleppo chile ($18).

Details: 13648 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, (707) 343-1384, glenellenstar.com

Spinster Sisters

The highly popular eatery is still bringing lots of people in — to the curb, at least — for family meals designed for two. To help keep crowds down, service times are divided up into 5, 5:30, 6 and 6:30 p.m. slots.

Check the website for new weekly meals posted each Wednesday and order online for prix-fixe selections. My pick was a recent “Springtime in Sonoma County”-themed repast, treating me to a table laden with meaty oven-roasted San Francisco Bay halibut draped in fava green pesto; baby artichoke dressed with green garlic and white bean barigoule (white wine-braised); Kibo Farms Sonoma Mountain asparagus salad with farro and gribiche sauce; petite savory tart with chard, currants, pine nuts and goat cheese and Meyer lemon posset (custard) with almond cookies ($54).

Each evening’s menu includes suggested wine pairings, with selections priced at 40% off. For my springtime supper, the Sisters recommended Stolpman Santa Barbara Sauvignon Blanc or Angiolino Maule Masieri Garganega from Piedmont, Italy.

Details: 401 South A St., Santa Rosa, 707-528-7100, thespinstersisters.com

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