We recently returned from our annual sojourn
visiting family in Seattle and the Bay Area which
naturally included multiple restaurant pit stops
here and there. While in Healdsburg, we had the
opportunity to dine at Cyrus located in the Les
Mars Hotel about 1 block away from Healdsburg Square.
I initially read about Cyrus – not in a dining journal – but in the Wine Spectator as one of the
top restaurants in wine country. Chef Douglas Keane started Cyrus with Maitre d’ Nick Peyton
whom he first met while working at restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco. I read that Cyrus
was akin to that
Francois Laundromat on the other side of the Mayacamas so naturally we had
to do personal investigation.

What’s on the Menu?

Cyrus offers various soups, salads, pastas, foie gras, seafood and meats that you can mix and
match from three up your stomach’s and wallet’s limit. Three, four and five courses run $75, $87
and $99 with additional courses adding another $15. Therefore if your dream dinner is four meat
courses with no soups, salads or pasta fillers, Cyrus’ menu is your oyster. If you desire, they also
pair wine with each course; $42, $56, $70 and $89 for three, four, five and seven wine pairings
However their crowning glory is the Chef’s seven course meal which is prepared with the current
market’s seasonal offerings for $120 along with a reserve wine pairing for $185. I’ll give you an
opportunity to push your eyeballs back into their sockets before proceeding.

THE Menu

Since this was a combination of our anniversary dinner and my 32nd birthday dinner, we started
the evening with a glass of Jean Vesselle Rose Oeil de Perdrix and the Mrs had a glass of Solter
sparkling Sekt Riesling. What’s better than Champagne by itself? Champagne with caviar! Our
server wheeled a caviar and vodka cart with several caviars ranging from American Paddlefish
($40 per ounce) up to Golden Oscetra ($315 per ounce). Since we never participated with the
initial stock offering of Microsoft, we politely declined the caviar.
We were then served a trio of canapés; Olive gel lee with boquerones (pickled white anchovies)
and chili, Pickled banana blossoms and black bean in a wonton crisp and a Cheese puff with
warm Gruyere cheese in puff pastry. The combination of salty, sweet, sour and heat from the
olive gel lee to the vinegary savoriness of the banana blossom on crisp to the warm rich cheese
puff along with Champagne started a symphony of flavor sensations for the ensuing meal.
An amuse bouche of Ahi with carrot, yuzu and shiso extended the flavor sensations started with
the canapés.
Course #1 was Nantucket Bay Scallop ceviche with pickled daikon and sweet potatoes. My reserve
wine was a 2002 Nigl Privat Riesling from Austria. The rich petrol, apricot and lime flavor in
the wine was a perfect foil to the sweet scallops and pickled toppings. Delish!
Course #2 was a Salt cured Foie Gras Torchon with quince butter and pomegranate. My wine was
a 1995 Tokaji Aszu 6 puttonyos Nyulaszo while the Mrs decided to guild the lily (since foie gras
may eventually be banned at some point in time within our lifetime) and ordered a tasting of
1997 Chateau d’Yquem. The rich sweetness and caramelized raisin and baked apricot flavors of
the Tokaji was a perfect partner to the rich foie gras and perfectly balanced with tart
pomegranate seeds. The over-the-top rich honeyed flavors of the d’Yquem almost overwhelmed
the foie gras if that’s possible. Kinda like a Lamborghini not being exotic enough for the driver.
Course #3 was Langoustine with chorizo and clams served with a 2004 Michel Niellon Clos de la
Maltroie Chassagne-Montrachet. The buttery richness of the wine held up to the strong flavor
of the chorizo and balanced the sweet langoustine and clams. This is probably the only dish that
I felt I might be able to imitate at home.
Course #4 was my favorite; Pumpkin tagliarini with sugar pie coulis and poached egg. This was
paired with a great wine from a great producer in a great vintage; 2001Gaja Rennina Brunello di
Montalcino. The coulis with the tagliarini alone would have been perfect with a sweet and
savory quality but when you popped the yolk on the egg and mixed it with the coulis and pasta
then had a sip of the Brunello… If the San Andreas had fractured at that moment and I plunged
into the Pacific, I would be found eons later on the bottom of the Pacific with an ear-to-ear
grin! We also forgot to tell our server that we wanted to opt for the $60 per 1/8 ounce fresh
white truffle on the dish. Oh well, if I did order it with fresh white truffle, I may have actually
died on the spot from sheer bliss. Like Primo explained in a classic scene from Big Night “the
dish was so good, you just have to… you have to die after you eat it”.
A pomegranate and lemon sorbet served on a little stick (like a mini popsicle) was served as a
palate cleanser before the meat dish though I wanted to keep the pasta flavor on my palate as
long as possible (the Mrs begged to differ since the sorbet was a highlight for her meal).
Course #5 was a Beef Wellington with mascarpone creamed spinach, porcini and sauce
Bordelaise. The 2006 Pax Kobler Family vineyard Syrah was paired with this luscious
combination of real Wagyu beef in flaky crust. The smoky, earthy, meaty quality of the Syrah
was perfect with the earthy porcini mushrooms and rich Wagyu beef.

Course #6 was the obligatory cheese course – your choice of four cheeses paired with sweet
breads, fruits and the BEST spiced nuts I have ever tried. My wine was a 1987 R. Lopez de Heredia
Rioja Riserva. Since we chose mainly old world cheeses, the spicy, raisiny quality of the Rioja was
again the perfect partner.
Course #7 was a pair of desserts; Green cardamom ice cream with orange granite and grapefruit
moscato sauce and a Gingerbread soufflé with eggnog anglaise. My final wine for the evening
was a 2002 Chateau d’Yquem. While the soufflé had a perfect balance of spiciness from the
ginger to the richness of the eggs, the cardamom ice cream was overwhelmed by the overly
citrusy sauce. And of course the d’Yquem was well… d’Yquem. Not as rich as the 1997 but with
more pineapple and apricot and perfect on its own.
The evening concluded with assorted migardises consisting of chocolates, gel lees and caramels
though at that point, I was ready for visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.

Was it worth it?

Well, if you have a calculator you can add up the damages. Roughly the same neighborhood as
the French Laundry. Impeccable service though it’s a lot more conspicuous than the French
Laundry. The sound level does get a little high (probably due to the curved ceilings) and the
dress code is a little more relaxed. All in all, we had an excellent meal and I experienced dishes
that I probably can’t recreate in my own kitchen. But like the French Laundry, it is a special
occasion destination that you probably won’t visit at every birthday. If you want romantic and
want the Chef to indulge your palate, try the French Laundry. If you want to choose your own
meal in a slightly more relaxed setting, choose Cyrus. Either way, you won’t be disappointed
with the food.

Cyrus in the Le Mars Hotel
29 North Street
Healdsburg CA 95448
Phone: 707-433-3311
Fax: 707-433-6633
Dinner for Two at Cyrus in Healdsburg