WORCESTER – One of the hottest new restaurants in Worcester is more than 20 years old, run by a chef who has spent a lifetime in the business. His name is Bill Brady, and his restaurant is Sonoma.
Located inside the beautiful Beechwood Hotel, Sonoma is a familiar name to folks in Central Mass who appreciate great food. Back in 1996, it opened in the town of Princeton, and quickly became one of the best restaurants in all of New England. A few months ago the restaurant made the move to Worcester, after Bill was approached by of the Beechwood’s owners.
“They have a love for this hotel. We have a love for Sonoma. So to bring it to a larger platform with a lot more moving parts to it was a great challenge.”
That might be a bit of an understatement. The restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Fortunately, Bill has a great team behind him.
“I’m surrounded by people that do their job and do it really well. They love what they do and that shines through.”
Back in the kitchen, that team turns out fine food from around the world.
“I like to call it global cuisine,” Bill said. “Not that we’re mixing all different cultures, we just like to be true to the culture that we’re representing.”
Out in the dining room, the wait staff works inside a simply stunning space.
“The dining room itself is spectacular. It was a $6.5 million renovation. Our showcase in the dining room is a $200,000 stained glass dome. Everything is custom, so it really is a beautiful space, and it’s a great palate so to speak in order to showcase our food and service.”
Sonoma’s ever changing seasonal menu is filled with dishes that are classic and contemporary. You can start your meal with rich and gooey French Onion soup, or opt for the fiery Kung Pao Cauliflower.
“It’s a tempura batter, deep fried, and then we toss it in our own Kung Pao sauce, very spicy. It’s a staple Szechuan dish so we have the wok fried peppers, onions, peanuts, scallions on top of that” Bill described. “It’s a great appetizer to share.”
Getting back to the classics, there is a Lobster Profiterole with orange Hollandaise and a perfect Caesar Salad, served in its own edible bowl crafted from high quality shredded parmesan cheese.
“Some people break it up put it into the salad, others save it for later. It’s a nice presentation, plus you can eat the whole thing.”
When it comes to entrees, there are great seafood options like Coconut and Coriander Crusted Ahi Tuna Sashimi, and Caribbean Jerk Shrimp with Grilled Vegetables. But you really ought to eat some meat, like the Filet Mignon wrapped in Bacon.
“The filet is the most tender part of the meat, but it also lacks a lot of fat, and fat is flavor. So with the addition of wrapping it in a nice smoky piece of fat, our streaky bacon, it elevates the flavor and I think really compliments the meat,” Bill explained.
The Prime Rack of Colorado Lamb is a dish Chef Bill has been making for more than 20 years, and it’s a dish he’ll likely be making for twenty more.
“I tried to remove that from the menu a couple times, but it’s one of our most popular dishes. It’s prime, domestic lamb. We coat that with some Dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary, some panko crumbs, roast it. It’s just been one of the staples here, and people have come to expect it.”
Since Sonoma is located in a hotel, they also need to offer items that are approachable and affordable. Nothing fills the bill like their half-pound burger.
The classics continue at dessert, presented on an old school dessert cart.
“When your server says ‘would you like something for dessert?’ it’s real easy to say no. But when they wheel something over – you know they say a picture is worth a thousand word. The genuine article is probably worth a few more words than that,” Bill said.
Just one look will make it tough to resist tempting treats like Crème Brulee, a Chocolate Torte with chocolate ganache, moist Carrot Cake, or the Sticky Toffee Pudding with caramel sauce, candied pecans, and vanilla ice cream.
No matter how you end the meal, you can be sure that it was made by a man who has dedicated his life to serving great food.
“My first job was washing dishes at 13 and I never left the kitchen. I guess I got bit by the love of it early. We like to please people; we like to make people happy. We really want people to come in and enjoy what we do.”
You can find Sonoma inside the Beechwood Hotel at 363 Plantation Street in Worcester, and online at sonomaatthebeechwood.com.
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