Trying to escape last Sunday's heat, I put a cooler in the trunk and headed to the coast to shop for seafood. Leaving behind 99o temps, I was stunned to find that downtown Sebastopol in normally cool Russian River Valley was nearly as torrid. Instead of stopping here for lunch, I kept driving out the Bodega Highway. The thermometer reading dropped to 83o when I reached Bodega (the town, not the bay). I spotted the BBQ oysters sign outside the Casino and decided to stop for lunch.
The town of Bodega is famous for St. Teresa's church and Potter schoolhouse, which appeared in Hitchcock's _The Birds_. Casino, a bar, restaurant and theater, was a favorite hang-out of the film crew, and they left behind a pair of papiermâché ravens who stand vigil over the pool tables.
On summer weekends (May to October), the side patio features barbecued oysters. In the past, by a contractor, but this year by bar management. The oysters are 2 bucks apiece or six for $11 served with garlic bread. The flavors/toppings available are garlic butter, parmesan, Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, Italian red sauce, or Cuervo Gold Tequila salsa. I asked for three each of the salsa and parmesan ones, then went into the bar to get a beer. Nothing on tap and a limited selection of bottles, so I settled on a local brew, Lagunitas IPA for $3.50.
The oysters were good, cooked to the custardy stage, with a nice smokiness. The tequila salsa is HOT. The parmesan turned cake-y, and I think I'd prefer just garlic butter instead. It was very pleasant to have these outdoors sitting on a shaded picnic bench. The grill master stopped by to check on things, giving me the chance to ask if the oysters were local. He said I was the second person that day to ask, and no, they're from Washington. I also asked what kind of breakfast the bar serves (weekends, 8 to 11am). He recommended the biscuits and gravy.
From here I made my way to the coast, only to find bumper-to-bumper traffic on Hwy 1. I couldn't even get into any of the parking lots to stop at any of the fish markets. I left the crowds behind to head to Valley Ford instead.
17050 Bodega Hwy
Casino in Bodega (and church, volunteer fire department, post office) slideshow -
NEXT STOP: Homemade Sausages at Valley Ford Market -
'Flocking to Bodega Bay'
by Deanne Musolf
Special to The Examiner
February 21, 2003
August 20 -- Bodega Big Event (sign painted on barn)
Benefit, Family Fun: The "Big Event" is the Bodega Volunteer Fire Department's annual fundraiser. The morning begins with the world's smallest parade. All day fun, with free live music and dancing outdoors. A great chicken and tri-tip dinner with all the fixins available all day. Booths for fun and goodtimes. And the traditional raffle for the much prized Bodega Quilt.
Fee: FreeTime: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 876.3477