Valette is the hottest new restaurant on the Healdsburg dining scene. Chef Dustin Valette is a local talent and just last month he opened his namesake restaurant with his brother Aaron Garzini after working at some of the best restaurants in San Francisco, Napa Valley and Honolulu. Most recently, Valette has been at Dry Creek Kitchen for the past six years, just a block away from his new place.
Valette is totally different from the more formal and traditional Dry Creek Kitchen dining room – the space is raw and industrial, with exposed brick walls and an organic natural grain finish to the Redwood bar. You can see the housemade charcuterie hanging above the kitchen. The casual interior belies the innovative menu and artful plating. Only the sleek white leather banquettes hint at Chef Valette’s fine dining background.
Two of Chef Valette’s signature dishes from Dry Creek Kitchen have been adapted for his new restaurant – day boat scallops en croûte and the duck duo of smoked breast and confit leg. Both are outstanding, and the duck preparation with cocoa nibs and kohlrabi mousseline was especially memorable for its flavors and how perfectly the duck was seasoned and cooked.
Chef Valette makes all his own pasta and charcuterie, including a sumptuous head cheese. My favorite dish of the night was the furikake-crusted ahi tuna atop seaweed sprinkled with toasted sesame powder and dots of soy kombu emulsion and a swatch of bold kimchi purée. The lamb ‘bacon’ was another stand out – deboned lamb shoulder stuffed with sausage and seasoned with a bacon cure for a texture and flavoring reminiscent of chorizo. Earthy charred sunchokes are an ideal accompaniment here along with delicate baby asparagus spears.
So far Valette is a hit with locals but out of town visitors are starting to wander in too. Request table 16, a curved leather booth with a panoramic view of the entire dining room that’s the most romantic seat in the house.