About the Glen Ellen Inn

About the Glen Ellen Inn

“I love to drink martinis, Two at the very most;
Three, I’m under the table, Four, I’m under the host.”

    ~ Dorothy Parker

About us:

Against all odds, advice, and common sense, Christian & Karen Bertrand opened the Glen Ellen Inn Restaurant in the spring of 1993.

As a child, Chris was fascinated with three things: cooking, gardening and Batman. He taught himself to cook by watching reruns of Julia Child on PBS, for accuracy and inspiration. Many a Saturday morning Chris’ mother woke up to find him still in his Batman pajamas, contentedly munching the hot crepes and cream he‘d just made. Summers were spent with family in Nebraska, where he’d help in the cornfields in the mornings and in the kitchen at suppertime. He’d bring in the fresh tomatoes, beets, greens, and corn he had helped grow, and turned them into French inspired family meals. Back in Sonoma, Chris got his first restaurant job while still in high school at a little Italian joint where he happily worked for minimum wage and all the pasta he could eat. It was there he developed a love of not only cooking, but of the camaraderie and creativity of restaurant life.

After high school, Chris wanted to go to culinary school, but he did not have the funds to do so. He instead went to Manhatten to gain knowledge and experience the European way, which is also known as the School of Hard Knocks. After several years of working every back-of-the-house position from dishwasher to Sous Chef, and learning classic French and Italian cooking techniques from the masters, he realized he missed his hometown of Sonoma. He returned to the west coast wiser, and met his future wife and better half Karen while working at John Ash Restaurant.

The two got married at City Hall in order to save money for “the dream“-to one day open their own restaurant. Luckily, Karen, a good sport who had paid her college tuition with waitressing tips, and whose BA in English Literature practically guaranteed her a career in the food service industry, agreed. They scrimped, they saved, and then they scrimped some more.

Chris and Karen eventually found the perfect spot for their restaurant in the village of Glen Ellen- a tiny, 8 table 1940’s wine country cottage, located just ten minutes from the Sonoma Square. So with a loan from Bob the landlord, a handshake from the Sam the fishmonger, twelve bottles of wine bought on credit, three pans and one pot, the Glen Ellen Inn was born. “If we cook it, they will come," Chris insisted. Of course, he had just seen the movie “Field of Dreams”, and was feeling pretty optimistic. Things went well, guests came back and brought their friends, and after a few years Chris and Karen were able to purchase the restaurant building itself.

Little by little, Chris and Karen expanded the building, added seats, an off site garden, a full bar, and then the Secret Cottages. Their lovely daughter Savannah, who is still known for her good sense and timing, was born right after the dinner shift on a Monday night in the summer of 1998. Today, Savannah helps in the restaurant after school, Karen hosts and writes the occasional press release, and Chris, as always, is Batman in the kitchen.

When are we open:
Open every day 11:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. (Weds 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.)

What we do:


The Food: Fresh California-Fusion with a focus on local ingredients. Steaks, pastas made in-house, fresh seafood, locally grown produce, Sonoma & Napa Valley wines, martini’s and a full bar are yours to enjoy. Chef Chris’s menu fuses the classic with the contemporary, pairing local products with French, Italian and Asian cooking techniques. Food is fun, life is good, and we want you to relax and enjoy--so what are you waiting for?


The Drink: Known as the “smallest restaurant with the biggest wine list” in Sonoma Valley, the Glen Ellen Inn features many hard to find Napa & Sonoma gems. In addition, there are 25 delightful flavors of martini’s, as well as half sized mini martini’s (for those who have trouble with commitment!).

The Setting: An authentic 1940’s wine country cottage, with an open kitchen, shaded garden, a covered patio, and a fireside dining area. It’s been called “the perfect setting for a delicious meal“. The lighting is soft, the mood is romantic, and there is a sense of whimsy (and occasionally, garlic) in the air.

The Secret: For those in the know, the Secret Cottages are just steps from the restaurant, each with its own fireplace, Jacuzzi tub, shower, TV, fruit & pastry basket, in-room coffee and honor bar. The creek side setting is serene.

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