Woodlands Cafe in Kentfield hosted a dinner preview party the night before the official dinner opening, where happy guests sampled bites from the new dinner menu. Woodlands Cafe has been open for breakfast and lunch with counter service, and now it is full service for all three meals. Owner Don Santa was there and told me about his vision of an open airy space for the restaurant, accomplished in part by raising the ceilings and lowering the floors. He and his sisters Joanne Santa and Sue Santa are not only involved in the management of the cafe, but also the Woodlands Foundation which has donated over $2.5 million to local schools over the years. The party was a class act with cheerful live music, attentive staff roaming and keeping guests well fed, delicious samples of menu items, and even weather cooperation for a perfect evening on the patio.
You couldn't help but be wowed by the display of cheese, crackers and fruit and cured olives that greeted you just inside the door to start. And not far behind was one of the wandering staff, offering bruschetta with the most ruby red tomatoes.
This is the second table loaded with even more cheese, cured olives and beautiful presentations of cured meats. And I was quite amazed to find green olives that were wonderful. This woman has never met a green olive that she liked. I can't say that any more as the Sicilian Greens charmed me with their mellow flavor such that I returned a couple days later to the adjacent Woodlands Market just so I could pick up a carton of these! The tray of Silcilian Green olives is visible just behind the flowers on the table above. And what paired with all this local bounty? Wines from local vintners Pey Vineyards of Marin and Yorkshire Vineyards of Mendocino.
At yet another serving area there was chicken salad and peasant salad in little bamboo boats for the taking, as well as hot out of the oven pizza margherita, and soft polenta bites. If you are wondering what is in the peasant salad, it consists of mixed greens with endive, Fuji apples, red grapes, gorgonzola cheese, spiced candied pecans, and dried cranberries in an apple shallot vinaigrette. If all that wasn't enough there were samples of soft serve ice cream made using Straus Family Creamery products, and house made sorbets including a tangy buttermilk-Meyer lemon creation.
Dinner service is now in full swing at Woodlands Cafe, and evenings on the patio near the fountain are a perfect summertime retreat.
Credit for the photos in this post go to Stuart Lirette who generously sent a selection from his snaps during the evening. I also had a severe case of camera envy when I saw his!