Single Thread

Lunch – Saturday, February 23, 2019

Single Thread was elevated to 3* in the 2019 Red Guide. We’ve dined there quite regularly since their opening at the end of 2016 (I count 9 menus in my collection), and for a place we are so familiar with, my expectations don’t change despite what the Michelin man says. Still, to mark the occasion, it seemed sensible to put down my thoughts on our first meal there since the promotion.

“Late Winter in Sonoma”
As usual, today’s hassun featured a cross-section of the season’s best produce and proteins. There were a number of special highlights for me, including: (1) Dungeness crab and mandarin in a nasturtium leaf “taco”; (2) white asparagus with daikon and truffle; (3) pickled aji; (4) parsley panna cotta with Hokkaido uni.

Tempura bright-eye fish, preserved pepper sauce

Malted potato, preserved lemon, cod collar
Egg custard, white kombu, dashi gelée

Akabana kanpachi
Winter citrus, sorrel granité, olive oil, Meyer lemon curd

I’ve eaten many iterations of this dish, but today’s was exceptional – so much so that it was my favourite course of the lunch. The quality of the fish (both texture and flavour) and the synergy between its accompaniments were truly outstanding.

Santa Barbara abalone
Hakurei turnip, white sturgeon caviar, wild seaweed, turnip dashi

Housemade Kyoto-style tofu
North Coast mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, matsutake-ponzu tea

The last time I was served tofu here, it was accompanied by warm tomatoes from the farm (in November no less – blessed are those who live in California). Today was much more reflective of the cold weather, featuring a selection of chanterelles, porcini, black trumpets and more. Deep, umami, comforting.

Guinea hen roulade
Sunchokes, charred broccoli, preserved lemon

Black cod
Tama miso, yuba, winter vegetables, kumquat kosho

Duclair duck breast and heart
Roasted salsify, spring onion custard, morels, wild ferns

My understanding is that the final protein course features either wagyu or duck, depending on the diners. These guys must know what makes me tick – I am completely in love with this breed of duck and its rich minerality.

Sonoma grains, nettle purée
Braised wagyu cheek and short rib, marrow, puffed tendon, beef consommé

Whey and winter citrus granité
Oro blanco, Douglas fir, rosemary sablé and flowers

Walnut miso ice cream
Hojicha steam cake, nocino meringue, prune, candied walnuts

Wow! There was just enough of a savory quality to the ice cream to keep it interesting throughout the dessert, and the Okinawan kokuto (brown sugar) used to caramelize the hojicha cake was just as captivating. This ranks near or at the top of all the desserts I’ve eaten here – not just because of the flavour, but how it seemed to perfectly capture the essence of the season for me.

A selection of thoughtful mignardises always ends the meal here. My favourite today was a ganache of rooibos tea, crusted with sesame and amaranth – the kind of candy bar you wish you could eat every day.

Stars are nice to have as a benchmark, but it should be clear that a restaurant has something special going on when it earns repeated visits from its clientele – we vote with our dollars, after all. The team at Single Thread has always demonstrated remarkable consistency, and the award came as no surprise to us.

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