Sonoma’s official grand opening in Worcester is slated for next week, but Mass Foodies stopped by a few days early for an admirable preview.
Sonoma, formerly of Princeton – now of the Beechwood Hotel – managed to retain all of its staff as well as that of the previous tenant, Ceres Bistro. The space itself looks largely unchanged, preserving a sense of social inspiration by virtue of highly captivating aesthetics. The bar is still aglow. The stained glass rotunda still serves as a dining room centerpiece. The sunsets are still just as striking on the patio as they’ve ever been. But, the menu looks a little bit different. Given the precision and expertise of Chef and Owner Bill Brady, we’re certain that 363 Plantation Street is about to see a whole new side of Sonoma.
Sonoma has built a reputation on its wine selection; during our visit, we asked our veteran server for some guidance. I wanted something “big, deep, and red,” and found what I was searching for in the Provenance, Rutherford Cabernet ($18). My date asked for a tannic wine to “grip the tongue” and arrived at the 2014/2016 Elsa Bianchi Malbec ($9).
Appetizer options included a very diverse selection, ranging from the Mediterranean Meze Platter ($14) to the Peppercorn Crusted Loin of Ostrich ($18). There was a distinct Asian influence that accounted for dishes like Kung Pao Cauliflower ($9) and Ahi Tuna Sashimi ($14). We began accordingly with Chicken and Foie Gras Dim Sum Dumplings ($14) served in a Sauternes Shiitake broth with Sriracha ponzu. The combination of decadent Foie Gras and rich, floral Sauternes played on a classic pairing. We found our four dumplings expertly steamed and indulgently bathed in a nourishing broth.
Entrees ranged in price from an $18 pasta dish to a $44 Prime Rack of Colorado Lamb Persillade. I opted for the Grilled Breast of Duckling ($30) and my date ordered the Boneless Korean Short Rib of Beef ($32). My duck was cooked to succulent perfection and served with a maple demi-glace, sweet potato puree, and spinach. The short rib was browned and juicy with a charred exterior rendering bite after pleasing bite. It was accompanied by sake-braised bok choy, jasmine rice, and miso aioli. We finished our meal with a coconut shell packed full of refreshing sorbet ($5).
Sonoma will, without a doubt, draw regulars from Princeton, welcome hotel guests to Worcester, and attract a traditional city crowd for special-occasion-dining opportunities. We feel confident that this is only the first in a long line of memorable visits by Mass Foodies.