Culinary Art

At the Haines brothers’ buzzworthy new Wildwood restaurant, the art on the walls shares equal billing with the art on the plate
Clockwise from top left: Wildwood’s smoked New York steak; the dining room featuring an abstract aluminum chandelier; a plate of madeleines and milk; interior designer Bruce Benning’s dramatic rope wall. Photos by Jeremy Sykes.

The first sign that something special is going on at Wildwood is the box at the top of the menu that names the design team responsible for the art-filled dining room. Local sculptor Marc Foster created the hostess table, a slab of etched glass cantilevered over a massive tree stump, as well as the steel twig fire pits that enliven the 3,000-square-foot patio. In the dining room, guests sit at tables under a giant abstract aluminum sculpture-cum-chandelier by Petaluma artist Matt Devine that looks like a flock of white birds just startled into flight, or inside booths set against a glowing rope wall by interior designer Bruce Benning that floats in front of a mirror, playing on light and shadow.

“Our slogan is, ‘Where the culinary arts meet the art of design.’ Our idea was to do a really artful restaurant,” says general manager Matt Haines, who co-owns Wildwood—which opened in late August at the upscale Pavilions shopping center in Arden-Arcade—with his chef brother Fred (the two also own popular spots like Riverside Clubhouse in Land Park and Bistro 33 in Davis and El Dorado Hills).

Executive chef Haines, chef de cuisine Robert Phillips and their team plate their dishes with the same artistic brio. The figs and burrata appetizer, dotted with olives and drizzled with spicy arrabbiata sauce, is as pleasing to the eye as the palate, and the beet-cured salmon carpaccio is an edible mosaic. Even a simple-sounding dessert order of cookies and milk arrives at the table looking like a Wayne Thiebaud still life: a composition of madeleines in a bowl presented with an old-fashioned milk bottle. Forget the camera phone—you’ll want to break out a sketchbook.

556 Pavilions Ln. 922-2858.