Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area

Murray Circle

Tom Armitage | | Jan 22, 2009 03:37 PM

Aside from a glitch in the service, I had an enjoyable experience last weekend dining at Murray Circle, the restaurant at Cavallo Point on the grounds of the former Fort Baker in Sausalito. The kitchen, under the direction of Chef Joseph Humphrey, the former chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood, turned out some very good food. For an appetizer, I had caramelized gnocchi served with King Trumpet mushrooms, broccoli, and sea urchin roe. I didn’t think there was much synergy between these various items, although each was individually fine. I was more impressed with my wife's sunchoke bisque, which intensely captured the unique flavor of the organic sunchokes. It came with some duck confit, slow roasted shallots, and Picholine olives. I don’t think the duck confit added much and, like the olives, were no match for the fabulously intense flavor of the sunchokes. For my entrée, I ordered opah served with watermelon radish and a foie gras emulsion. The opah included two separate pieces, a piece of the loin that was lightly seared, and a piece of the belly that seemed to be marinated and cooked through. I found the belly slightly dry but very rich and flavorful, and – although I had some initial doubts when I ordered it – the foie gras emulsion was truly extraordinary, tempting me to lick my plate to get every last drop of it. By contrast, my wife’s black cod was not as memorable. The fish was nicely cooked (black cod is such an oily fish it’s hard to screw it up), but the flavor was bland and boring. I thought the best thing about my wife’s entrée was the accompanying charred Monterey squid. The butternut squash was also delicious. For desert, I had the butterscotch soufflé, which was another big winner. The service glitch was the fact that after our appetizers were served, we waited . . . and waited . . .and waited, well over an hour, for our entrees to be served. Finally, I flagged down our waiter and asked him what was going on. The entrees were served 10 or 15 minutes later, with profuse apologies for the error. Even then, however, my wife’s black cod was served luke warm, suggesting that it had been sitting for a while, waiting to be served. Despite this, there was enough good stuff here that I’d happily return again. As a bonus, there is a fabulous exhibit of the photography of Imogen Cunningham at Murray Circle that is well worth visiting for its sake alone..

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