Diavolo, Geyserville California.

October 2013.

This is the northern-most Michelin named restaurant in the San Francisco guide. We were staying, ill-advisedly, in the town of Cloverdale about 12 miles north. The apparently gorgeous old B&B “on the vineyard” in that town turned out to be a rundown affected expensive sham run by a raucus young middle-aged divorcee. Cloverdale is a third-rate backwater by Russian River Valley standards. Thank God we got out of town for dinner

Diavolo is a very informal open-space high-ceilinged room that gets quite noisy but has a pleasing easy-going feel. No reservations, we arrived at about 5:45 on Sunday and had a very nice table by the window. The server was a delightful young middle-aged girl with deep and enthusiastic knowledge of wine.

There was a flight of three truffle specials which were expensive, and we went for the middle one, a beef tartare. Otherwise we ordered a la tapas and shared three other dishes. A very respectable sweetbread with wine reduction and a succulent pork belly done with roasted vegetables were completely satisfying. There was also a nice understated beet salad. The beef tartare was maybe a bit simple and I didn’t find much truffle flavour but it was still tasty with salt and pepper.

We drank a local small sauvignon blanc and I had a glass of counoise (can’t remember the producer but I think he was the only one our server knew of in the area doing that particular varietal) that was substantial and cozied up nicely to the meat.

Michelin rarely misses although it does occasionally. Here it was bang on. 6.1 ambience, 8.0 service, 7.9 food, 8.3 overall value. I would certainly go back, but I doubt I’ll have the chance.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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