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Pharm to Table

The Pharmacy is good medicine

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DOCTOR'S ORDERS  Eat the turkey and avocado sandwich. You’ll feel better right away.
  • DOCTOR'S ORDERS Eat the turkey and avocado sandwich. You’ll feel better right away.

I drove by the two-month-old Pharmacy probably half a dozen times before I realized it wasn't a pharmacy, but a smart, new, casual restaurant that draws nearby medical-office workers and downtown Santa Rosa sandwich aficionados looking for a quick bite without the health hazards of fast food.

There must be a name for the building's particular kind of architecture, but I don't know what it is. I've seen similar structures in similar-looking medical campuses throughout the Bay Area that serve as pharmacies. With the high ceiling, big windows and steep roof angles, I'm going with 1970s California-modern-meets-Balinese-pagoda. It's a distinctive place.

The healthful slant of the menu—locally sourced eggs and meats, housemade almond milk, wholesome salads, turmeric-ginger lassis—and riffs off the medical theme in the cafe's name makes sense. Food is thy medicine, etc. For a pick-me-up, I'd go for one of their delicious sandwiches over pharmaceuticals any day.

I love the open-faced avocado sandwich ($8) topped with sea salt, Katz olive oil, sunflower sprouts and red chile flakes served on sourdough bread from Petaluma's outstanding Revolution Bakery. It's simple and simply delicious. The BN Ranch roast beef sandwich ($10) is also served open-faced, with caramelized onions and spicy aioli. The rose-tinted ribbons of sliced beef are piled high and are uncommonly tender, so buttery they almost melt in my mouth. How do they do that?

Another winner is the turkey and avocado sandwich ($12). You've had a million turkey and avocado sandwiches before, but this one stands out for the quality of its ingredients and clean, fresh flavors—calabrian chile pesto, aioli, sunflower shoots, juicy turkey and more of that excellent, crusty Revolution bread.

Best of all is the croque-monsieur ($10), another open-faced gem made with Llano Seco ham topped with bubbling, torch-browned béchamel sauce. So good.

The country-cute interior (baskets of bread, heirloom beans, old rolling pins in big crocks) doesn't hide the lack of seating. There is none, unless you count the few lawn chairs out front. Patrons sit on planter boxes or stand up against the counter snaking along the windows inside. Bear with them. Owners Kim Bourdet and Jennifer McMurry are planning to a build seating area atop a mound of ivy and lava rocks out front in a setting that is still very much an office park. You can always get it to go.

Hours are breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, 7am to 3pm. My one gripe is the chai latte ($4). It tastes like watery milk, but they say they're working on it.

Desserts consist of freshly baked cookies, pastries and lemon meringue, and salted chocolate and caramel treats served in tiny Mason jars ($6). If the dose of chocolate and caramel doesn't make you feel better, have another one and call me in the morning.

The Pharmacy, 990 Sonoma Ave. #1, Santa Rosa. 707.978.2801.

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