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A Look Inside Sonoma’s New Home in Worcester

Sonoma, formerly of Princeton, is now located at 363 Pleasant Street in Worcester.

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).

Grilled Breast of Duckling and Boneless Korean Short Rib of Beef at Sonoma in Worcester.

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.

The Beechwood’s signature stained glass rotunda serves as a dining room centerpiece for new tenant, Sonoma.

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.

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Sonoma Restaurant of Princeton is Replacing Ceres Bistro in Worcester

Chef O'Sullivan with Chef Bill Brady and his wife Kim (Taken by Erb Photography for Mass Foodies).

According to Barbara Houle, Sonoma Restaurant of Princeton will relocate to Worcester this fall, taking over the dining space at The Beechwood Hotel (currently Ceres Bistro.) This is a big win for the city of Worcester, given Sonoma’s endless list of accolades, although the ambitious transition does mean that chef/owner Bill Brady will need to take a step back from his role at Worcester Technical High School. Executive Chef Dan O’Sullivan is reportedly along for the ride, though The Beechwood’s chefs will continue to handle special events at the hotel.

Sonoma is noted for upholding fine dining etiquette, and will no doubt prove well suited for The Beechwood, which proudly bills itself as “Worcester’s Only Four Diamond Hotel.” We expect nothing less than pristine linens, crumb dusted tables, proper utensils, and flawless recitation of the specials, given Sonoma’s long tradition of excellent service. The Princeton location will shut its doors mid-summer in preparation for the move.

Last year, Chef Bill Brady was honored as one of Mass Foodies’ select participants in the Chef’s Best Series. Brady’s passion resonated for five straight courses, a feast featuring playful renditions of grilled Wagyu Beef and eggs, seared Togarashi Tuna, and Roast Rack of Lamb. This ends the long anticipated rumor of Sonoma opening a Hanover Theatre location. As far as we’re concerned, Sonoma’s move can’t come soon enough.