Handline Restaurant is a dream we’ve always had. The food we will serve will be fundamentally Californian. To us, this means inalienable freshness, the kind that you can only experience when the air has recently kissed the Pacific. It is an adventure and the Coast is our inspiration. It is a place where the celebration of our region’s bounty merges with the state’s diverse culinary heritage. We look to pay homage to the cooking techniques and beloved ingredients brought to California by generations of immigrants, while reflecting the evolution of modern Californian fare. We hope the food will embody the joy and passion we feel for diverse communities and lively dinner tables. Click to visit restaurant website!

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Handline Esquites

In Northern California, corn is an unmistakable sign of summer. I always look forward to finding the corn in husks piled high in my local market and making a place for it on my grill. Charred corn slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt is one of summer’s simple pleasures. Life is good. On the street vendor’s carts in Mexico, you’ll find two classic corn preparations, elote and esquites. Elote is typically served on the cob whereas esquites are cut off and fried in butter. No matter how many tacos I’ve consumed wandering the streets of Mexico City there is always room for corn. Esquites 8 ears of corn 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 cloves garlic, minced ¼ cup Crema (or sour cream) ¼ cup Mayonnaise 1 lime 2-4 tablespoons of Cotija or other crumbled, dry, salty cheese (ie: Feta, Ricotta Salata) ¼ tsp plus a pinch of chipotle powder A pinch of salt A few sprigs of cilantro The initital cooking of the corn can be done either on the grill or in the …

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The Tale of the Humble French Fry

Two summers ago, Handline participated for the first time as a vendor at the Gravenstein Apple Fair, our little town’s vibrant celebration of its most beloved fruit. We had set our sights on a hopeful, perhaps slightly unrealistic, goal of an early summer opening for the restaurant; however, midsummer was already upon us and we were still in the final phases of construction. This meant that preparing for our debut at the fair was going to bring a unique set of challenges. I had been perfecting our Inglewood burger recipe for the menu and planned to serve it with fries but hadn’t begun recipe development yet. The week before the fair, I set to work on a rented deep fryer experimenting with the humble French fry. I had dabbled in the Lowell’s kitchen with a wedge-cut style fry cooked on the makeshift stovetop fryer we use there, but it wasn’t long before I realized that in order to truly perfect the golden crunchy exterior, fluffy soft interior fry of my dreams it was going to …

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Handline’s Roots and Shoots:  An Exploration of Seasonality

At Handline we celebrate the seasons of Sonoma County in a section on our menu titled “The Weather Report.” It is home to “The Mendo,” a medley of wild and cultivated mushrooms, served with creamy fonduta and an arugula salad. It boasts the Smothered Pumpkin, a warming bowl, filled to the brim with roasted and spiced squash, mole and pepitas. And it is here that you will find the “Roots and Shoots,” a staple season after season, changing as quickly as the weather outside. The Roots and Shoots was not a staple when we first opened our doors. However, the demand for vegetable-focused dishes from our community was strong. We often heard requests from some of our favorite guests to make an addition to our menu. “We wish you had something like the Macro Bowl over at Lowell’s,” they would say. And despite the craziness of a newly opened and very popular restaurant, we whole-heartedly agreed. The first conception of the dish began in the fall of 2016, just after our opening. Just like the nutritious …

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Handline’s House Dressing

As with most great recipes, this one has a good story. One of both tradition and deceit. I first tried a version of this mind altering dressing about 12 years ago at a great West County restaurant. Chef Tai Olesky owned a cool spot named Mosaic in Forestville. His house salad was tender lettuces, blue cheese, toasted almonds, and sliced apples with a rich and somehow familiar dressing. I had never tried this dressing before, but the flavors brought me back. Learning later that the ingredients included such hippie classics as apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast and tamari made perfect sense. I, like Tai, grew up in Sonoma County in the 80’s. We were both children of “back-to-the-earth” hippies. He claimed this recipe as his own secret and made a small name for himself on its back. Fast-forward a few years later, when my brother Will returned from a Hollyhock Retreat center, on Vancouver Island, with a recipe book from their cafeteria kitchen. It turned out the house salad recipe from that book was the …

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Handline’s Smoked Trout

We are thrilled at Handline to be featuring TwoxSea’s beautiful McFarland Springs Trout on our menu year-round. It’s farmed sustainably in Northern California and fed a 100% algae based vegetarian diet. It has a wonderfully delicate, sweet, pink flesh that lends itself well to a light smoke. You can find the trout in our Monterey Salad featuring local greens and seasonal ingredients as well as on our Happy Hour Menu in the Smoked Trout & Clam Chowder. The key to this recipe is time and restraint. We don’t want to overwhelm the delicacy of the fish with too much salt or smoke. It’s a minimum of 24 hour process from start to finish but the end result is totally worth the wait. Before getting started, you’ll need to collect some equipment to fashion a stovetop smoker: 1 half sized metal hotel pan (4” deep) 1 half sized perforated metal hotel pan (2” deep) 1 bag of cherry or apple wood chips Step 1: Brine the Trout To brine something is to submerge it in cold …

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Handline’s Summer Squash “Ex Pat” Taco

Every year in Sonoma County, as chefs, we count down the days until the turning of each season, knowing that that turn will bring a new and exciting perspective and creative process to our menus. As the leaves begin to change and the air becomes crisp with the first sights and feels of Fall, I begin to dream of delicata squash, roasted chestnuts and pomegranates. As Spring approaches, I become giddy at the thought of young fava beans, English peas and asparagus. And by the time Summer starts to creep into West County, my mouth waters and my mind is flooded with aspirations for all the ways in which I might prepare the bounty of night shades that is just weeks away. And then there is Summer Squash. As a long time employee, and well, family member, to the Peter Lowell’s, and now Handline crew, I have come to expect the imminent flood of Summer squash from our farm, Two Belly Acres. Between the months of June and September each year, hundreds of pounds are …

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Satsuma Harvest

Sonoma County is packed with hidden orchards and Natalie and I find great joy in sussing them out. Every year we return to our favorites for their seasonal fruits. Last year we discovered a 30 year old citrus orchard tucked quietly behind El Molino High School in Forestville. The prize of this orchards is the Satsumas, which ripen on the trees to a perfect pitch of sweet and tart. The evolution of flavor of the Satsuma from the moment it’s picked to when its bought in a store up to 2 weeks later can be stark. The acid drops of precipitously, leaving a flat sweetness in its wake. With this in mind, we make sure to eat them as we pick them, using them at Peter Lowell’s and Handline as quickly as possible. Self control is impossible.    

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Smothered Summer Squash with California Mole

This recipe was dreamed up as a great way to use up the bounty of summer squash we grow at the farm each summer. Luckily, the California mole is versatile enough to use on just about any roasted vegetables throughout the year, including potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and eggplant. It can also be used to accompany meats such as chicken or lamb. The recipe makes enough to save the leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for the next time you need a quick vegetable side dish. For the Sauce (makes 1 pint) ½ cup almonds ½ cup pumpkin seeds plus 1 tablespoon for garnish ½ cup tomato puree 1 dried chipotle chili 4 whole cloves garlic, peeled 1 shallot 1 lemon 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 cup for garlic confit Salt to taste Toast the almonds and pumpkin seeds on a sheet pan in a 350 degree oven, stirring once, until golden brown and fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. In a small saucepan add 1 cup olive oil and whole peeled garlic cloves, …

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Handline Fisherman’s Stew

Cioppino originated in San Francisco as a one-pot meal enjoyed by fishermen at the end of a long day on the water hauling in the day’s catch. Typically it consisted of whatever the fishermen had on hand, including Dungeness crab, squid, mussels and clams. The stew is inspired by a traditional Italian fish stew, its broth is a base of wine, tomato and the briny liquid released by shellfish as they are cooked. I like to use a crisp, dry white wine, which gives the soup a bit of a lift, making it versatile enough for a warm winter day (of which we have plenty here in Northern California) or a cold, stormy winter night. Last year was a really terrible year for Dungeness crab fisheries due to a huge algae bloom off the Northern California coast, raising the levels of domoic acid in crab to unsafe levels for human consumption and resulting in an extended season closure. The catastrophic implications this has for the fisherman is a vivid example of the importance of the …

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Handline’s Beer Battered Fish Tacos

For me, there’s nothing more representative of coastal Californian cuisine than a delicately fried fish taco with crunchy cabbage and a handmade tortilla. Its an ode to both the expansive Pacific waters that stretch the length of shoreline that we call home and the Mexican heritage of this area. It’s a dish enjoyed in any season, as long as the fish is fresh and caught locally!  Prep all your ingredients first, shred the cabbage, slice the radish and make your aioli. Clean and slice the fish into 1oz portions then refrigerate. Make the batter last and keep it as cold as possible, this will ensure a nice crispy fried fish. Ingredients: 2 lbs Fish (rock cod works best here) 1/2 Cup Cornstarch 1/2 Cup Flour About 8 oz of Beer 1 Quart Frying Oil 1 Cup Habanero Aioli 12 Tortillas 1/4 head Cabbage 4 Limes 4 Radish Cilantro For the Aioli: In a food processor add 1 egg yolk, 1t dijon, 1t vinegar, 2 garlic cloves, a squeeze of lime and 1T habanero hot sauce …