Reviews of the finest restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area by Carol and Joe Davis - the Dining Detectives. From Sushi to Prime Rib, the Detectives dine their way across the spectum of fine food. ©2006 Carol and Joe Davis

River House Restaurant & Gallery
Fine Dining on the banks of The Petaluma River

It was a perfect warm spring evening when we drove down E. Washington St., turned onto Weller St and arrived at The River House, a lovely restored Victorian on the banks of The Petaluma River.

The river was calm and we noticed that a canoe club was enjoying some fun on the river. Upon entering, we noticed a beautiful cozy bar to our left and the river and outdoor dining to our right. We were warmly greeted by Kevin Waltz, the Events Coordinator /manager and were escorted upstairs to The Chelsea Room. This was a private corner room with one table that suited the four of us perfectly. We felt like we were at a Bed & Breakfast .We had a birds-eye view of the river and also could look back into the dining area and enjoy the art on the walls, some of which came from Gallery One, a local Art Gallery. It is always nice to be in a private room especially when there is a great view of The River.

Our waitress, Lacie and her "shadow" assistant quickly arrived with some fabulous bread. We had slices of garlic loaf and incredible rosemary herb bread. We then ordered San Pelligrino Sparkling Water and some wines by the glass and were ready for a fine dining experience.

As we looked around the Chelsea Room we were pleasantly surprised to see a 1988 Petaluma Post Restaurant Review by Skip Sommer framed on the wall. Sharon Jackman, the co-owner stopped by and told us about how she and her husband Boyd were proud to have owned The River House since the late 1990’s and was thrilled to have a great chef, Thomas Braun. Thomas is a local who grew up in the restaurant business, as his parents owned The Olema Inn. The sunlight was streaming in the windows, the river was flowing calmly and the setting could not have been more perfect.

Small Plates:
Crisp Tiger Prawn Spring Rolls with Thai chili sauce. These were unique and quite spicy, a fantastic starter.

Smoked Salmon served with red pepper, onion and caper confetti. This tasty starter was served on Crustini and was delicious.

Roasted Corn Crab Cake on a bed of mixed greens w/ tasso remoulade. Great sauce and perfectly prepared Crab Cakes.

Soups and Salads:
Clam Chowder- This white New England chowder with fresh clams was superb and with a glass of wine it could be the centerpiece of a great light dinner.

Spinach Salad w/ navel orange vinaigrette- Extremely fresh and tasty.

Caesar Salad- We love Caesars and this lived up to the name. The dressing was perfect.

(All entrees include soup or a small House Salad)

Rack of Lamb- with Pinot Noir cranberry sauce braised asparagus and herbed polenta. Lovely presentation, The lamb was juicy and the sauce gourmet. The polenta was equally fantastic. We highly recommend this Entrée.

Cioppino- Prawns, Rock Shrimp, Mussels, Clams, Salmon and Halibut served with garlic bread. Absolutely wonderful, mild yet quite flavorful. All the seafood was very fresh. We also highly recommend this Entrée

Mahi Mahi- served with white rice pilaf, basil herbed polenta and braised Asparagus. Excellent, the fish was fresh and perfectly prepared. A fresh fish lover’s delight. The polenta melted in your mouth, just terrific.

Pastry Chef Sherri Vella Hewitt has prepared a wide range of fantastic desserts. Luckily there were four of us so we had a chance to sample a number. Dessert is a personal experience, which we again realized with each of us loving our own choice.

Coconut Cheesecake- this is The River House’s Award winning Signature dessert. The cheesecake was moist and the macadamia nut crust was truly special. Carol’s Favorite!

Key Lime Pie- Key West meets Northern California! A great cool and creamy Key Lime with a chocolate cookie crust and fresh whipped cream. Penny’s favorite!

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee-
As perfect as could be. David’s favorite!

1998 Moscato Andrea- A great after dinner drink. One of the many to choose from.

Boyd Jackman, the owner, personally selects the wines and he has done a great job. There is something for everyone including a nice selection of wines by the glass, half and full bottles.

1997 Pyramids Ranch Chardonnay- Crisp and flavorful- paired well with the Mahi Mahi
1999 La Crema Chardonnay- light and fruity- paired well with the Tiger Prawns.
1999 Shug "Carneros" Pinot Noir- Light , paired well with the Cioppino.
1997 Michel-Schlumberger Cabernet Sauvignon- Full bodied and paired well with the Rack of Lamb.

The River House has combined the beauty of The Petaluma River with the ambience of a restored Victorian and complimented it with truly fine cuisine. In this fast paced world, it’s nice to be able to enjoy some serenity, have a great meal and watch the river flow. You’ll be glad that you dined at The River House.

River House

222 Weller Street
Petaluma, Ca. 94952
Fax – 707-769-0845

Dinner 5:30 P.M.- 10:00 P.M.
Reservations Recommended
Major Credit Cards
Ample Free Parking
Full Bar
(Excellent Selection of Single Malt Scotch)
Outdoor Dining (Seasonal)
Banquet / Wedding Facilities
(Small or Large Groups)
Private Rooms Available
(From 4-56 people)
Live Jazz Friday nights
(June- September)