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San Francisco Bay Area Road Trip

CA Road Trip: North Bay portion


Restaurants & Bars 14

CA Road Trip: North Bay portion

pane | Apr 22, 2013 04:06 PM

We drove from Riverside to Bodega Bay with stops in the Inland Empire, Coalinga, Santa Cruz, Olema, Freestone and Bodega Bay. This post covers just the Bay Area board portion.

Dinner at Olema Inn. The remodel is lovely; wide planks of the wooden floor and the freestanding candelabras in our small dining room gave it the feeling of a updated tavern, even more so when I ordered a bowl of onion soup that was a much better version of what was served at the 18th century roadhouse near my school.

The menu's ambitious intent is to source within 5 miles of Olema. We split a set of three oysters, artichokes with aioli, onion soup, a duck egg salad with lardons, Dungeness crab, dinner rolls. The prices go by set (small apps are all priced the same, large apps slightly higher price, entrees are all $20).

The meal was enjoyable, highlights being the remarkable dinner rolls, satisfying duck egg salad, sweet-crispy broccolini, and onion soup, which was rich and satisfying without the typical beef broth.

I've never had this problem with Dungeness before, but much of the meat stuck to the crab shell and didn't release; it was a lot of work to scrape them and still leave a good portion behind in the shell. (Anyone know why this happens? Overcooked or old crab, or just bad luck?) The artichokes were a little undercooked and hadn't been drained thoroughly so they managed to be both tough and waterlogged.

The dishes that were successful were so accomplished that the downers didn't bother me much. The perfectly salted, buttery yet light dinner rolls would find a spot on my death row last meal list. Service was warm, professional and unobtrusive.

The night we dined was also a special event with Deborah Madison, which took up the main dining room; it seemed like a lot of coordination for the small kitchen and staff to synchronize a dinner for maybe 30 while at the same time host regular diners in a separate room, so I wonder if that might have had something to do with our meal being very good but not faultless.

Wild Flour bread in Freestone: amazing. You can smell the wood oven fire as you turn down Bohemian Highway to find the bakery. A big garden outside is lovely for a stroll--they're growing herbs, lettuces, onions and hops. Of the breads I tasted, I liked the olive best. Sticky bun seemed very popular, but I adored the tender, luscious meyer lemon scone. (Sign at the door: "We need more meyer lemons! Will buy or trade!") They take cash or check only, and I heard the clerk assuring several customers that they could just mail a check later when they got home. Hippies: I love you, never go away.

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