Perched on the corner of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and Star Route One, Sir & Star is the second property for chefs Margaret Gradé and Daniel DeLong, who previously reinvented Manka’s Inverness Lodge. This new restaurant, located at The Olema (a hotel built in the late 1800s that recently reopened for lodging), delivers the bounty of West Marin with understated elegance.
Because of the building’s age, the restaurant is a beautiful blend of heritage and modern, split into multiple rooms that have high ceilings, dark wood floors and intimate dining spaces; some have cozy, lit fireplaces. The main dining room faces the sunset and features a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the town’s quaint main street.
All food is sourced within 30 minutes of the restaurant and, with a few exceptions, beverages are also from Marin producers. Entrées change daily to reflect what’s most fresh and available, though some favorites have become menu staples. Each day, the chefs offer “Your Best Move,” a multi-course, prix fixe meal that spotlights the dishes they feel are the standouts. Ordering this option requires full table buy-in, and since we were there to sample and report, we opted to dine a la carte (but we’ll definitely go back to try this option another time).
The menu is a delight, with fanciful, poetic descriptions that made us giggle—“A soup of Annabelle’s shelling beans etched with wild nettle”—and piqued our curiosity. So with our glasses of 2013 Bailiwick Rosé (crisp and light, sourced from Marin and Sonoma fruit), we began.
Everything we tried was a delicious reinvention of comfort food. A small plate of roasted Brussels sprouts were perfectly charred to bring out their nutty flavors and served with lemon vinaigrette that had an Asian flair and a bit of spice. The salad of Bolinas purple beans with toy box tomatoes, fennel sauce and torpedo onion vinaigrette was a beautiful blend of fresh and earthy. The beet soup, served with fresh-baked brick oven bread, was a showstopper. A deep, ruby red, it was thick and creamy, and the natural sweetness of the beets was balanced with a hint of nutmeg.
The faux gras of local duck livers (“so delicious it should be illegal”) came in a small tureen, topped with plum preserves and served with oiled crostini and salt flakes to sprinkle on top. It had a smooth, delicate flavor that, when combined with its accompaniments, created a decadent sweet/salty/savory flavor explosion.
For entrees, we enjoyed “a neighbor’s quail” and local ling cod. The quail was deboned and “plumped” with focaccia and wild thyme stuffing. Golden brown and served on top of simply seasoned mashed potatoes with a side of mustard greens and raisin sauce, it was like a mini Thanksgiving dinner—hearty and satisfying.
The cod was lightly breaded sat atop a creamy sauce with Tomales Bay mussels and a cauliflower and seaweed salad. Together, the elements reflected the essence of the sea. The fish was delicate and flaky, while the cauliflower soaked up every flavor nuance in the sauce and grounded the dish.
Our first dessert was a moist, dark chocolate brownie that was eye-rollingly good, served with carmelized Kadota figs. A persimmon pudding cake was accompanied by white raisins, pecans, salted caramel sauce and marscapone. The cake had bits of persimmon and a texture like bread pudding (melt in your mouth). It wasn’t overly sweet, and the nuts and fruits worked with the deep autumn spices for a satisfying end to a wonderful meal.
Alexandra Russell is editor of NorthBay biz magazine. A North Bay native, she’s worked in magazine publishing for nearly three decades. She lives in Santa Rosa with her family and uses Dine Wise as an excuse for date night with her husband, Greg. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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