On a recent jaunt to San Francisco, I decided to take advantage of an invitation to visit Farmhouse Inn, a much-heralded jewel of Sonoma. At the inn and its Michelin-starred restaurant, owned and managed by a brother and sister pair of fifth-generation Sonoma farmers named Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, a cluster of powder yellow houses surrounds a quaint pool and stable-like spa. Everything about Farmhouse Inn feels like home: there’s a warmth about the place and service that cannot be faked. From the hand-made soaps at the reception area “bath bar,” to the open fire pit (perfect for s’mores roasting) that illuminates the pool area, the panache of Farmhouse is palpable.
It’s hard to say that the highlight of my overnight stay at the inn was. Breakfast (my main meal there), which was divine? When I slept in the King Deluxe room, from which I was informed Emma Stone had just checked out of? When the decadent chewiness of the chocolate chip cookie turn-down treat belied the fact that is was actually gluten-free? Or when the very Californian “intuitive aromatherapy massage” I started my morning off with left me both utterly relaxed and ultimately energized?
The morning meal, served in the serene dining room, was conceptualized by Catherine and the inn’s chef, Trevor Anderson. Mine was a study in sprightly color palettes and a delight to the other kind of palate. Breakfast at the inn always starts with a pastry; for me it was a dense fig bread served with a dollop of almond cream with a sweetness balanced by a tart, crisp fig and apple salad. A sunny-side-up egg (from the chickens on Joe’s farm) ensconced in a slice of toasted brioche and surrounded by a wreath of micro greens and shaved radishes served as a whimsical main course.
When Catherine and Joe took over Farmhouse Inn, it was anything but whimsical. They have vivified what was a lackluster, mismanaged property, turning into a ray of sunshine in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. Californian to the core in its easy elegance, yet world class in its farm-to-table delectations, luxury is served without a whiff of pretention at Farmhouse Inn.