I have been reading about a new diner that opened just out side of Sonoma, out on Hwy 12 (or Hwy 121 or Fremont Dr, they're all the same road at that point). For years it was Babe’s, a great place to get burgers, but it had fallen into disrepair and was recently snatched up and renovated into the Fremont Diner. Styled as a diner / roadside stop with a definite southern flare.
We enjoyed their Smoked Brisket Hash and their Biscuits & Gravy. The brisket is smoked over oak with a rich flavor then grilled with Yukon Gold potatoes and onions; a nice sweet rich smoky flavor and topped with an egg done your way.
My biscuits and gravy were incredible. I love biscuits and gravy but usually plan to eat too much because they are so rich, these were perfect. They make their own cream biscuits and the grill them till toasted, then topped with not your ordinary biscuit gravy. You can actually see the sausage in nice large chunks that you can catch with each bite. The gravy was heavenly, perfect thickness to coat and not drip but not so thick as to weigh you down. Can you guess I loved the dish? I have an eccentric habit at breakfast; I like a nice light green salad. I was thrilled when they said no problem at all. Tender organic greens with paper thin sliced apple and beet dressed perfectly.
The diner shows a growing trend in dining. Many chefs are opting to do it their way. They are not opening big expensive restaurants but finding small quaint locations to work out of. These locations are often only 12 to 14 seats and the chefs are aiming for locavore menus. The fewer seats allow them to work directly with the growers and producers, to know their customers, and avoid the overhead of a grander establishment. It also allows more creativity and frequently changing menus.
We dined inside (given the weather) which had a nicely appointed homey feel, but in sunny weather the picnic tables with umbrellas provide a spectacular view of the surrounding vineyards.
Congratulations Fremont Diner – I’ll see you again, soon.