Captain Charlie’s Reef Grill
12846 US HWY 1
Juno Beach, FL 33408-2221
Ross Matheson operates a delightful flip flop casual restaurant at 12846 US Hwy 1 in Juno Beach, Florida. This loud, funky, welcoming joint serves serious and delicious seafood like blackened scallops wrapped in bacon and rare tuna spring rolls drizzled with honey and wasabi. The fish, just hours removed from swimming in the ocean is cooked however you like it: poached, grilled or sautéed. They have whatever is freshly available including grouper, flounder, yellowtail and tuna.
Captain Charlie’s earns the first Beyond the Call of Duty WinePAL certificate for his simple, but imaginative wine pricing policy. Whatever the bottle of wine costs, Ross Matheson adds $10. That’s it, on each and every wine. If Ross buys a wine for $8, then he sells it for $18. If he buys a wine for $40, then he sells it for $50. Corkage is $10 per bottle. Ross says, “I like to see people drink wine in my restaurant. I figure if I can make $10 on every bottle, then that’s good enough for me.”
Mendocino Café Meredith Smith
19451 Lansing ST.
Mendocino, CA 95460
A charming restaurant located in the very touristy town of Mendocino on the Mendocino coast. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mendocino Café serves some very eclectic food best described as Hispanic/Asian. A good example is the Thai burrito brimming with stir fried vegetables, rice and peanut sauce. They have soups, sandwiches, fresh fish and ribs, all tweaked with their unique style. In a tourist town like Mendocino, you’ll find nothing else like it.
The wine list is amazing, full of local treasures like 1998 Navarro Chardonnay Reserve ($24) and 1999 Brutocao Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($28) or a sparkling Roederer Estate Brut ($30). There are also a few foreign wines like Perrin 2000 Cotes du Rhone ($20). Owner, Meredith Smith finds bargains, buys in quantity and then ages the wine in her cellar. When she feels the wine is at its optimum, she sells it just doubling what she paid for it. If she paid $12, then it sells for $24, even if she’s aged it for three years. Her list has 50 wines and half of them are under $30. Nothing on the list is over $40.
Deuce has been operating at 691 Broadway, just blocks from the Sonoma Plaza for eight years. Their tasteful dining rooms and gorgeous garden patio along with their friendly, courteous staff led the Zagat Guide to declare, “Deuce is what Sonoma is supposed to be.” Chef Arnold Pulido turns out inventive contemporary American food with French and Italian accents.
The wine selection currently features 170 different wines. Some 67 wines, or close to 40 percent of the wine list, are priced under $30. The Stewarts have found some delicious treasures like David Noyes’ 2004 Tocai Friulano ($23) and 2003 Jade Mountain Old Vine Mourvedre ($26). The Wine Patrol isn’t the only group that appreciates the wine list at Deuce. Mark Bittman of the New York Times says, “. . . the wine list is a gem.”
241 First Street West
Sonoma, CA 95476
Mike and Gia Chilarducci have welcomed diners to their beautiful restaurant for 21 years. Located just two blocks north of the Sonoma Plaza, the Depot Hotel has beautiful gardens, shaded decks, and a pool. The waitstaff is very experienced and as good as it gets in Sonoma. The Depot Hotel is casual, “Country Inn” style featuring Northern Italian cuisine. Locals love Mike’s food especially the tortellini, which rates as the Wine Patrol’s best ever in a restaurant.
The wine list has a wonderful selection of local California wines as well as plenty of fantastic Italian wines. The list runs to about 100 different offerings and more than half are under $30. The Ghilarducci’s own Lake County vineyard produces a delightful Wildhurst Reserve Sauvignon Blanc for $20 and a Cabernet Sauvignon for $24. Real treasures dot the list like a 2001 Donatella Columbini Rosso di Montalcino for $25.