New + Notable

Part Southern Charm, Part Rock & Roll

“Around Town” focuses on some of our favorite things: food & wine, travel, athletics, community, and philanthropy.   Today we review Rocker Oysterfeller’s Kitchen + Saloon. 

Located along Route 1, Valley Ford is a rural community set among the rolling hills of Western Sonoma County (a fun fact: In 1976, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s installation art piece Running Fence passed through here). A primary reason to visit (at least for us) is Rocker Oysterfeller’s Kitchen + Saloon, located in the historic Valley Ford Hotel.

Like the town itself, Oysterfeller’s has a slightly quirky, Bohemian vibe. Not surprising given its name. Rumor has it someone in the owners’ family (we’re sworn to secrecy, but here’s a hint: mum’s the word) was slightly tipsy one evening and when referencing the classic dish, Oysters Rockerfeller, slurred, we mean scrambled, a few syllables, and viola! the restaurant’s name was born.

Co-owners Brandon Guenther, the chef, and Shona Campbell, who hails from Galveston, Texas, have created a lively, welcoming spot—part Southern charm, part rock & roll.

The good feeling is evident from the moment you enter the animated bar, with photos of happy horses on the wall and spirited tunes on the 8-track. We love hanging here, but there’s also a pretty dining room, with white wainscoting and mustard-colored walls, and an expansive patio perfect for lazy summer afternoons or Sunday suppers.

The food has a Southern slant as well but with a definite Sonoma pedigree, featuring farm-fresh ingredients and produce from local purveyors.  Of course, one can’t go wrong with the oysters. Fresh and plump, they’re served raw on the half shell with a lemon-honey-jalapeno mignonette—adding just a hint of heat. Or, try the eponymously named preparation, oysters baked and topped with arugula, bacon, cream cheese and a cornbread crust.

We also suggest y’all try the Dungeness crab and artichoke cakes, served with slightly spicy remoulade sauce, seared sea scallops with chorizo, grits, and okra, and the seafood gumbo with andouille sausage, crayfish, and the catch of the day.

Ahhh. We may come for the fresh fish but we stay for the burger. A half-pound patty served with white cheddar and “Baconaisse” on a grilled Ciabatta bun. With a fried egg on top. And crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside Kennebec fries. And a spicy Bloody Mary to wash it all down.

Speaking of drinks, there’s a creative cocktail menu as well as a focused wine list featuring many notable SonomaCounty selections. On the lighter side, and particularly tasty with the oysters, are the Hanna Sauvignon Blanc and Unti Rosé. On the full-bodied end of the spectrum is one of our absolute favorites, the Radio-Coteau Los Colinas Syrah, Sonoma Coast, And, right in between is Eric Sussman’s second label—the County Line Pinot Noir.

If you’ve had just too much fun—a definite possibility—or just want to extend your visit, the Valley Ford Hotel features seven cozy guestrooms.