Japanese-inspired cuisine and hospitality in the heart of Californian wine country
Husband and wife Kyle and Katina Connaughton complement each other perfectly: he is a chef with experience in Asia, Europe and the US, and she a farmer and floral designer who studied culinary and agricultural techniques in Japan and Europe before returning to Northern California. Together, in December 2016, they opened SingleThread as a restaurant, farm and inn, receiving a four-star review from the San Francisco Chronicle as well as two Michelin stars and now the coveted Miele One To Watch Award, all within just 18 months.
While the wine is from California and the produce largely from Katina’s five-acre farm, the cuisine and philosophy at SingleThread are driven by the couple’s experiences in Japan and the ethos of omotenashi – the spirit of selfless hospitality. This translates to three different 11-course menus (vegetarian, pescatarian and omnivore) including the best available seafood and farm produce from that day as well as selections of small snacks. Many of the plants grown on the farm are Japanese, including kano nasu eggplant, shishigatani pumpkins and a long Japanese onion called kujo negi.
All of Katina’s lovingly farmed ingredients are treated with the utmost care by chef Kyle, who began his culinary career in high school by apprenticing at one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in Southern California, then progressed to study classical and modern cuisine before cooking in the US and then moving to Michel Bras’s three-star restaurant in Hokkaido, Japan. He worked through a rotation of traditional Japanese kitchens in the disclipines of kaiseki cuisine, sushi, izakaya and soba, before moving in 2006 to work at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray, UK.
The Connaughtons’ first solo project is the full package, allowing guests to enjoy an overnight stay in one of their five rooms, each adorned with Japanese-style bathrooms, heated floors, sweets from the SingleThread pastry team and plenty more goodies. Customers at the inn can also order elaborate breakfasts incorporating eggs and other produce from the farm, or the donabe dinner experience, where a starter of small items and sashimi is followed by the communal donabe hotpot of seafood, meat or vegetables, accompanied by rice, pickled vegetables and condiments and finally a special dessert to reflect the season.
Completing the food, wine and hospitality experience is the site itself, which includes a rooftop garden with 360-degree views of Healdsburg and a hub of raised beds with culinary crops and cut flowers. Diners can take aperitifs or bubbles with small bites before proceeding to the main dining room to enjoy their meal, while overnight guests can also eat breakfast in the rooftop garden.
SingleThread may well be the best way to experience Japan from afar, so this restaurant is certainly One To Watch in 2018.
131 North Street
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Take a look inside SingleThread:
Now read the seven reasons why SingleThread is the Miele One To Watch.