As I was writing the menu for Wayfare Tavern, I needed some historical dishes to support my concept of an old American tavern that might have been there since the late 1890s. That search led me to Sole Bonne Femme, a dish that was served at San Francisco’s grand Palace Hotel built in 1875. I’ve put a modern stamp on the dish but at its heart this version is classic and true.

Read more


  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 quarts Fish Stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground white pepper
  • 8 petrale sole or flounder fillets, about 6 ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 large white mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons finely slivered fresh sage leaves


Place a deep skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter has melted, add the minced shallots and cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine, turn the heat to high, and cook until the wine has reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the fish stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and 2 more tablespoons of the butter; season with salt and white pepper.

Season the fish fillets on both sides with salt and white pepper and sprinkle the second side with the thyme leaves. Roll the fillets tightly, enclosing the thyme leaves, and use a toothpick to secure each roll. Gently slip the fish rolls into the liquid, making sure they are submerged. Cook over low heat with the liquid at a bare simmer, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through but not falling apart.

While the fish cooks, set another skillet over high heat and add a 2-count of olive oil. Once hot, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. The mushrooms should have a nice golden color.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer each fish roll to a plate or shallow bowl. Remove the toothpicks. Spoon a few tablespoons of the poaching liquid over each serving and top with the sautéed mushrooms and sage.

In this section