Located off the downtown Healdsburg square, sits one of my new favorite places to eat, sleep, discover, and to simply be inspired. By now you may have been or read one of the many stories – I like this one – about Single Thread Farm. I’ll try not to repeat what many articles have already said, but I will support and reinforce all the good press.
Martin and I drove up to the inn last week and stayed overnight. Guest parking is conveniently located just behind the building. You can enjoy dinner at the restaurant without staying at the inn, but we told our kids that it’s part of the package. However, you cannot stay in one of the guest rooms without having a dinner reservation.
Before beginning the experience, it’s important to understand omotenashi “a Japanese word that represents the country’s approach to hospitality in which a host goes above and beyond to anticipate a guest’s needs and treats that person not like a customer, but like a friend.” This and the food are why we are smitten with Katina and Kyle Connaughton’s Single Thread.
Quiet. The minute my husband and I entered the cozy lobby at 131 North Street, it was quiet and empty yet didn’t feel cold and unwelcoming. Within a minute, the manager and staff arrived to greet us, tell us about our upcoming dinner, show us around, and bring us to our room. I should add, they sent me an email that morning to ask about our expected arrival time and a preferred 4-digit code to be pre-programed as our room key. No physical keys, just keypads. Our personal code unlocked our room, the roof garden lounge, and all guest-only amenities. Very convenient. All five guest rooms, as well as a study, are located on the second level, with the restaurant on the ground floor.
Upon entering our guest room, I knew everything was carefully curated to go above and beyond as well as delight. From the Ratio coffee brewing device and Zalto glassware, to Sasawashi slippers and Aesop bath products, each detail and personal touch made me think how did they know? Comfort is clearly a priority so nothing was too precious.
A small plate with a crafty Japanese-paper cloche sat on a side table. Next to it was a birthday card for my husband, Martin. When I booked the reservation, I mentioned that our Single Thread dinner was his birthday gift. Under the paper was bright yellow lemon, or what I thought was a lemon. The beautiful fruit looked so real, but it was actually a disguise for layers of wonderful textures and flavors: Meyer lemon ganache, olive oil jam, Tonka bean shortbread, and Meyer lemon marmalade. Seriously.
And there was more. On the mini kitchen counter were six petite chocolates: fennel seed and satsuma, hearth roasted grapefruit, and pecan and coriander. Dinner wasn’t for another few hours so we were safe eating a few handmade treats. In the drawer fridge were complimentary craft beer (Pliny the Elder), Vero Water, and Revive Kombucha. And in the freezer was homemade milk chocolate and caramel coffee of course.
After all that, it was time for a stroll and get some fresh air. We walked up to the roof garden to find cool wooden planters on wheels, greenhouses, small kitchen and a spacious lounge area.
About the room decor. Natural wood, neutral tones, dark gray, onion flower pendant, leather-handle cabinets, wood plank floors. Things I want for our home.
About the bathroom. Prepare for an auto-open lid greeting from the ToTo toilet that feels like a cheerful AI is living in the loo.
As we walked downstairs for our dinner reservation, we were welcomed with homemade cider that was to be enjoyed at an open window into a remarkably quiet kitchen. Despite about a dozen cooks, including Chef de Cuisine Aaron Koseba, moving about preparing dinner, the kitchen was peaceful. It was captivating. My favorite kitchen moment was watching a cook with tiny scissors trimming a bouquet of edible flowers, the size of something you’d find on the island of Liliput, into a small bowl.
Golden Eye Snapper from the Hearth: Carrot, Dried Apricot, Scarlet Turnips and Their Greens
Paired with Alquimista ‘Jessie’s Grove’ Zinfandel, Lodi, CA 2015
Wild Yellowtail: Barrel Aged Ponzu, Cara Cara Orange (those are individual cells that were frozen), Komatsuna, and Saikyo Miso
Paired with Aizu Chujou Junmai Sake, Japan
Monterey Bay Abalone: A Sauce of Its Liver, Slow Cooked Onions, and Myoga
Paired with Taiheikai Tokubetsu Junmai, Ibaraki, Japan
Hearth Roasted Sweet Potato: Chicory Ice Cream, Cocoa Husk, and Hazelnut
Château Doisy Vedrines Sauternes 2nd Cru, Bordeaux, France 2011
Inside the 54-seat restaurant, we sat at a cozy table just off the open kitchen. We chose the wine pairing with our 11-course pescatarian tasting menu. Alternatively, you can select their vegetarian or nightly menu. Meals were elaborate but easy to navigate with complex seasonal ingredients that were not overdone or overused. Food was served on beautiful ceramics made by the Nagatani family from Iga, Japan. This staff. From the sommelier to server as well as the person who removes your finished dishes, they all are well-versed in each dish and all the ingredients. Akiel, who was our main server, recognized us (well, really my phone case) from our dinners at Lazy Bear. He recently moved up to Healdsburg to join the dazzling Single Thread team. And we’re glad he did, he’s such a delight. I wish I could remember our sommelier’s name, he was amazing and such a good conversationalist. Delivery of food and wine is perfectly timed thanks to the tv screens above the kitchen. It all goes back to omotenashi, anticipating a guest’s needs and treating that person like a friend.
Tip: There’s one table and sofa that located directly across the kitchen, you can see everything. If you’d like to have more of a theater Chef’s Table experience, request that seating.
Eleven courses later, here we are with Chef de Cuisine Aaron. Happy and full.
Make a selection from the breakfast menu, including a vegetables-from-the-farm frittata, Ibushi-Gin smoked trout, the night before and enjoy it in-room or in nearby study (informal lounge for guests). We chose the Japanese-style breakfast, served in the study. With only five rooms in the inn, we felt the comfort and noise level would be more than manageable. Plus, we wanted to hear what other guests thought of the dinner. Zack was our guy that morning, chatting about the Donabe rice, fishing, and the beauty of Northern California. Engaging and super-nice, he was gracious about us monopolizing his time. Here is what to we had for breakfast:
Dungeness Crab Dashimaki Tamago
Donabe Rice with Cherry Blossom
Vegetable Salad in Sesame Dressing
Fresh Yuba with Barrel Aged Ponzu
The onion flower used for their stationery. | A note in our menu.
Thank you Katina and Kyle Connaughton and the staff for an extraordinary experience. We can’t wait to go back.