Before making the long drive home to Los Angeles, The Astronomer and I made one final stop at The Fremont Diner in Sonoma for lunch. The restaurant has been garnering significant buzz ever since it opened in 2009, but it didn’t come across my radar until my friend Lien enthusiastically recommended it. She promised me that Chef Chad Harris’ brand of gussied-up down-home cuisine would rub me in all sorts of right ways.
Situated on a lonely stretch of Highway 121, the two-year-old diner captures the feel of a weathered roadside diner down South. Rusted truck parked out front? Check. Chickens roaming around the building? Check. Grease wafting heavily in the air? Check. If it weren’t for the lush rolling hills and acres of carefully planted grapes, I would’ve sworn we were back in sweet home Alabama.
After placing and paying for our order at the front counter, The Astronomer and I grabbed a table inside. There were a dozen inviting picnic tables set-up out front, but the essence of manure in the air discouraged us from outdoor dining.
With enticing offerings like oyster po’ boys, ham and biscuits, and “Nashville Hot Chicken” on the menu, it was really difficult to pick our poison. After much hemming, hawing, and second-degreeing the cashier, The Astronomer finally chose the chicken and waffles ($7.25). The boneless slab of fried chicken was served on a buttermilk cheddar-bacon waffle with a pitcher of apple cider syrup on the side. A pat of butter provided the finishing touch.
It’s totally unfair to compare this fried chicken to the specimens we demolished the night before at Ad Hoc, but alas, I cannot help myself. The chicken had a fantastically crispy crust, but its meat could’ve used a citrus and herb brine bath. Still, coupled with the bacon-studded waffle and fruity syrup, every bite was pretty darn memorable.
My pick was the Fremont Reuben ($11.99), which was made with house-cured and smoked pastrami, chow chow, and Estero Gold Swiss cheese on rye bread. The hefty sandwich was served with a side of buttermilk and tarragon potato salad, and whole grain mustard.
I friggin’ loved my sandwich. It was a mouthful of toasty bread, tender and salty meat, gooey cheese, and tangy sauce and sauerkraut. I might have to name my first born Reuben.
The Astronomer and I shared an order of breaded onion rings ($2.50) that were simple and delicious. Breaded > beer battered.
To wash everything down—a horchata milkshake ($3.99). The cinnamon notes weren’t as strong as we would have liked, but we drank it all anyway because it was so smooth and sweet going down. Next time, I’m ordering a salted caramel milkshake. Oh, Lord that’s gonna be good.
The Fremont Diner truly did rub me in all sorts of right ways, and I cannot wait to return for more Southern comfort with a Nor Cal bent. I’ll be seeing you soon, Mr. Chicken.
The Fremont Diner
2660 Fremont Drive
Sonoma, CA 95476