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December 06, 2013

Whitetail Winebar unveils Helena’s Kitchen in Guerneville

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Whitetail Winebar unveils Helena’s Kitchen in Guerneville

Chef Helena Gustavsson-Giesea
Chef Helena Gustavsson-Giesea
When Whitetail Winebar opened in Guerneville in mid-2011, it was a coup for the little town in the heart of Russian River Wine Country. Owner Leslie Bahr injected a big dose of sophistication with her urban-chic design and collection of tiny bottlings from mostly young winemakers who have no tasting rooms.
Now, Bahr has raised the bar again, adding full service food to be enjoyed amid the chandeliers and bistro tables carved from redwood tree trunks supports.
Helena’s Kitchen operates out of a tiny pantry space next to the bar, crafting bites like crispy fig-prosciutto pizzettes ($9), meatball plates of shrimp, turkey and beef with “secret” sauces ($9), curry empanadas ($7), chicken and rice noodle salad in peanut dressing ($14), and cocoa dusted duck and pumpkin ravioli in wild mushroom cream sauce ($16).
It’s the work of chef Helena Gustavsson-Giesea, with the menu designed to pair with selections from sommelierSalvatore Curreri.
Previously the owner of the now-closed Charizma Wine Lounge in Guerneville, Gustavsson-Giesea has also baked pastries at Della Fattoria in Petaluma and was chef and manager at the seasonal Jenner Bistro. She’s also done internships and front-of-house work with Fleur de Lys and the Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville, and still works as a private chef in Sonoma County.
Meatball trio
Meatball trio & secret sauces / SF Chronicle
Given her Swedish background (she participated in Sweden’s Miss Fitness competition in 1999!), it’s not surprising to see Swedish meatballs on the menu, skewered on a stick and paired with twice-baked potato and ligonberry salad ($14).
The stick is important, Gustavsson-Giesea says, since it adds extra class to a food she’d otherwise just pick up and pop in her mouth.
“I love finger food,” she joked. “But just because I’m a barbarian doesn’t mean everyone has to be.”
Whitetail Wine Bar: 16230 Main St., Guerneville; (707) 604-7449 orwhitetailwinebar.com. Kitchen is open for limited winter hours Thurs.-Sun. 4-9 p.m.

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