At the deep end of Philo, virtually in Navarro, in the old Floodgate building, you’ll find one of the best fine-dining restaurants in the Mendocino area: the Bewildered Pig. It’s an unassuming stop – a little bit of straightaway known as TownsEnd on Highway 128 – but there’s a passion here for design, food, and hospitality that makes it a ‘must visit’ on any trip to Mendocino. It’s an Alice Waters-esque eatery in an unlikely location, with its own distinct flavor – you’ll find yourself talking about the dishes and creative uses of ingredients to friends when you mention your trip to Mendocino.
Janelle Weaver, formerly of Peter Michael Winery and Kuleto Estate Family Vineyards, is the Bewildered Pig’s chef, and her partner Daniel Townsend is a passionate character who may wander over to your table to see how you’re doing between courses. Ask him about the succulents and cacti that dot the outside space if you want a crash course in botany and landscape design (they do an amazing job dampening the road sound). Chat with either of them for more than a few minutes and you’ll understand why the food is so darn good – there’s a genuine love of wild ingredients, of local foodsheds, and of elegance in food preparation that comes across immediately.
If you’re in the area on Friday or Saturday afternoon, treat yourself to one of their four-course pre-fixe lunches where their signature exceptionally sourced local ingredients are given an ever-so lighter but still magical touch, perfectly suited to a leisurly afternoon in Anderson Valley. Lunch is served most weeks from 12:30 until 2:45pm, or until it sells out, and reservations are highly recommended. Lunch at the Bewildered Pig is a great stop as part of a day of wine tasting in the Anderson Valley, as you’ll be in the neighborhood of Roederer Estate, Phillips Hill, or Lula Cellars.
For the “ultimate Bewildered Pig experience” get a place at one of their Seasonal Dinner Series evenings, where each dinner features a unique hyper-seasonal menu built around the very best produce of the moment. Past dinners have included A Bewildered Pig take on a Labor Day Weekend barbeque, a traditional Christmas Eve dinner, or an April Fool’s Dinner where guests were bewildered and delighted in equal measure. With only about ten dinners per year, reservations are a must and places are limited to 20, with one seating at 6pm. And you’re in the Anderson Valley, so do add the wine pairing supplement – you won’t regret it.
The Bewildered Pig also has a beautifully curated food market open most Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 5pm. Ranging from local wines, to kitchen equiptment, to take away food options, there’s no better place to collect your own personal selection of Mendocino County’s finest edibles, either for an unforgetable picnic or that perfect gift for friends back home.