I love wondering around downtown Healdsburg — wonderful people, beautiful scenery, and you’ll never go hungry and definitely not thirsty. Sure, those of you who stomp the Sonoma grounds often may have your favorite Healdsburg haunts. But I say half the fun is walking into a place you have no idea what it is and giving it a go. That’s how I found The Gallery Bar & Bistro.
Some of you may know this venue simply as the Studio at Barndiva. It still serves this local flavor purpose — art gallery by day showcasing some of the avant garde works of Wine County creatives. The Studio has also become well-known for its reservation-only nightly dinners and their French Country Sunday Suppers (prix-fixed, reservations only.) Now there’s something to bridge that day-night gap: The Gallery Bar & Bistro, serving house cocktails, wine, and bar snacks.
While the house specialty cocktail menu is small, they have a full bar and can make you anything that will make your hour happy. But an absolute must try is the House Special. Titled “Why Bears Do It,” the drink is a blend of brown butter whisky, thyme syrup, and Barndiva’s very own apple juice (available for bottle purchase). If you’re thinking this is a sweet, girly drink — you’d be wrong. The whiskey is strong enough to taste, the syrup herbaceous and savory, and the apple juice is obviously all-natural. If your masculinity is in question, just pluck out the flower garnish.
If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, then the margarita is definitely the drink to order. The simple mixture of tequila, fresh-squeezed lime, and agave is a thirst-quencher for sure — try to sip slowly.
Barndiva’s mission is to serve fresh, local Wine Country ingredients in their purest form. This mission has clearly carried over to their cocktails as well. And even the complimentary popcorn is just lightly salted — giving you that crunchy satisfaction without weighing you down with excess butter or artificial oils.
In the mood for something with a bit more substance? The Gallery Bar & Bistro has a menu full of delectables. From a simple beetroot salad to lamb lasagna — you could turn your happy hour to happy hours and snack time into meal time. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the chévre croquettes — crumbed goat cheese croquettes, each surrounding a single fresh raspberry in the center, drizzled delicately with lavender scented honey, garnished with fresh lavender petals. Not usually one for fried food, I was pleasantly surprised at how light that crumbed exterior was. And while goat cheese can be full-on, both in flavor and texture, that surprising pop of the raspberry center cut through the density and fats.
While you certainly can plan on eating your fill here, I highly recommend The Gallery Bar & Bistro as a first stop for snacks and cocktails. Surrounded by funky art, mood lighting, and outgoing staff — it’s the perfect place to get your energy going for a night on the Healdsburg town.
237 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA; 707.431.7404; barndiva.com/studio;
The art gallery is open 7 days a week, 10 – 6; The Gallery Bar & Bistro is Open Wednesday – Sunday, 2:30pm until Closing.
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