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Seaweed Cafe in Bodega Bay - impressions (long-ish)

artisancheesefiend | Jul 28, 200508:09 PM

My boyfriend and I ate at Seaweed café last Saturday. While I like this place (it’s very romantic and serves excellent, locally-sourced food), I wanted to like it a lot more than I did.

Here are a few of my impressions:

We may have been on an off-night, but they were out of the first two bottles of wine we requested. This is particularly frustrating given that their list often has only one wine per varietal.

The menu descriptions can be incredibly vague. For someone like me who wants to know what they’re ordering rather than be surprised, I recommend asking lots of questions.

Two examples – under appetizers, the menu lists simply “oysters on the half shell”, mentioning neither the type of oyster (it was Sweetwater oysters from Tomales Bay that night) or the fact that they’re served with copious amounts of two types of roe and doused with a strong vinegar-based sauce. Since I take a minimalist approach to oysters, this preparation was a shock and totally overwhelmed the oysters themselves.

My choice of main course, soba noodles with seaweed in broth, sounded like a yummy vegetarian dish – seaweed, baby carrots, giant mushrooms and ginger in a savory but delicate broth. We only learned that the dish ($23) contained scallops when the server mentioned it in passing (we had asked her about a scallop sashimi appetizer). A surprising detail to omit – but perhaps reflects the fact that their menu is ever-changing, taking advantage of fresh, local ingredients. As such, an informed and communicative server is essential to make sure that diners know what’s available. We didn't have one.

As it turns out, the soba noodle dish was excellent. They were some of the plumpest, juiciest, most succulent scallops I’ve ever had, and the broth was savory and balanced without being overpowering.

Dessert was fantastic, but again choices differed from those printed on the menu. We had a warm rhubarb cobbler, that apparently was normally a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler when the kitchen doesn’t run out of strawberries. Strange to be out of them when all of the farmers' markets were brimming with strawberries! It was sensational nonetheless, sweet but not cloying, with a whole-grain cobbler crust and dollop of whipped cream.

Last note: while our server was very inexperienced she didn't seem indicative of service overall. Though well meaning, she rarely knew any details about the dishes we inquired about, having to ask the hostess to answer them, or worse, mumbling answers to our questions when she really had no idea what the correct answer was. The busboy, however, was very attentive -- never letting our water glasses become empty and returning at just the right moment to fill our coffee cups.

For a foodie like me who wants to know all the pesky details -- like the type of olive oil served and the origin of the produce, dining at Seaweed Café can be frustrating experience.

I'm rooting for them though, and plan to return to see if they work the kinks out.


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