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Nick's Cove in Marshall

  • g

I checked the archives and found only a couple of 2008 reports. Anyone been recently?

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  1. I had lunch at Nick's a couple of weeks ago - beautiful spot and a great interior. It was packed and the service staff was struggling - we had a few errors with our order and it took quite a while to get the check - they just seemed overwhelmed.
    The food was good, nothing spectacular - it felt a little pricey, but they used predominantly organic/local ingredients.
    I think it is a perfect spot to stop in for oysters and some wine to relax and enjoy the view - I am not sure I would consider it a destination dinner stop yet.

    5 Replies
    1. re: suebette

      I've heard that more often than not. Maybe it'll never be a destination dinner house. It'll just be a nice place with a great view and watch what you order -- oysters, simple preps, wine -- like so many other costal eateries, nothing wrong with that if you know in advance.

      1. re: Sarah

        Thanks suebette and Sarah! We were thinking of spending a couple of days in one of the cottages and wanted to check about the restaurant. Keep it simple sounds like a good idea. Any other dining suggestions in the area?

        1. re: Gail

          We like Tony's (in Marshall?) on Hwy 1 -- not for the food usually, but just because it's there and it's what it is, if you can understand that at all! Weekends only I think.

          1. re: Gail

            Seaweed Cafe.

            Seaweed Cafe
            1580 Eastshore Rd, Bodega Bay, CA 94923

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Thanks, Robert, we've been there and wanted to try something different. Tony's is open only on weekends as Sarah said and Nick's sure gets mixed reviews...back to the drawing board, I guess.

        1. Adding a link:

          Nick's Cove
          23240 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 95450

          1. I had lunch at Nick's Cove the other day and shared a bunch of dishes. A couple dishes were excellent -- the fried oysters and the artichoke and potato hash. But the rest -- bony grilled sardines, bland crabcakes, BBQ oysters, crispy fries -- were just OK and not at all worth the high prices. We had a brownie with ice cream for dessert; the brownie was miniscule and nothing special.

            2 Replies
            1. re: figrrl

              We actually prefer to go the very down-market Tony's. Can't recomend much there except for oysters and the calimari steak, but it makes no pretensions of being anything other than an oyster and beer type of joint.

              Tony's Seafood Restaurant
              18863 Highway 1, Marshall, CA 94940

              1. re: Calvinist

                Tony's has long been my coastal go-to place for fried oysters. It has just the right Tomales Bay waterfront ambience for a good place to take out-of-state visitors.

            2. I saw Nick's on Michael Bauer's "Top 100" and decided to include it on my Marin/Sonoma weekend, which also included stops at Buckeye Roadhouse and Farmhouse Inn. I spent the night in "Al's Cottage" right on the water, and it was fantastic. The food was ordinary. Grilled romaine salad was nice, BBQ oysters just fine, french fries very good, pork roasted in banana leaf possibly the worst main course I have had in a very long time. This may have been a special, and not on the everyday menu. I think it's possible that anything cooked in banana leaf is horrible.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Rockman

                Went to Nick's last night, overall it was a good night. I liked the decor and setting. Service was very good, cocktails and wine selection above average. Food, however, was mixed. Shrimp cocktail and BBQ oysters were perfect, really nice. Grilled romaine also tasty. Sardines, meh. Papardelle was ok, nothing special, but fine.

                They were full by the time we left, around 7:30.

                1. re: raeclark

                  Had lunch there yesterday and would not recommend it. The oysters and clam chowder were fine - no complaints, but the special of the day was fish and chips and I ordered that. It was two generous looking pieces of locally caught beer battered cod but when I broke them open I realized the batter had "exploded" so much that the fish was only about half the size of the original appearance. My pieces had curled and floated to the top of the fryer so that the top center was undercooked while the rest was greasy and burnt. For $19 this was criminal.
                  The fries were OK - equivalent to McDonalds.

                  Sidebar question - what is the appropriate tip for parking valets these days?

              2. I finally got around to trying this place.

                Barbecued oysters were cooked properly but overpowered by the combination of garlic-parsley butter and a dollop of barbecue sauce. I'm the last person to complain about salt but this was too much.

                Grilled calamari were also cooked properly but underseasoned.

                Grilled rib-eye was again cooked properly but dominated by the salsa verde should have been served on the side. A side of canellini beans and chard was good.

                Prices were reasonable by SF-Berkeley standards and the place is charming. Overall, I felt like the food fell into a no-man's-land between the the usual mediocre stuff you get at the average beach place and first-rate cooking. Next time I'll go to Tony's.

                Bauer has this on his top 100? Ridiculous.

                1. If you are already in Marshall, have your bbq oysters at the Marshall Store. Its just a little cafe but it sits dead on Tomales Bay and even the chef at Nicks admits that the bbq oysters at the Store are better. The tiny dab of garlic butter and q sauce perfectly compliments these beauties and the view on the deck is abfab. Nicks is a bit of a "way back machine" to the Hemingwayesque, but if you choose carefully (fried oysters, salads) you can have a very nice meal. But if you are driving north on route one, stop first at the Marshall Store for the best bbq oysters I have tasted anywhere.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: annabana

                    Can emphatically vouch for this, the raw were perfectly chilled and of great quality when we blew through on Saturday (smaller than I prefer, but that is picking nits), the BBQ were done with such restraint that I renounce my previous aversion due to this style, iirc, due to the complete dousing of BBQ sauce (inferior at that) by the Olema Inn several years prior.

                    1. re: annabana

                      The current liquor-license situation at the Marshall Store is weird. They sell beer and wine, but you can't drink on their fairly pleasant premises. Instead they have tables set up on the side of the road (presumably just off their premises).

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        When I was there a couple of weeks ago, the counter lady said the liquor situation is the result of The Marshall Store having no indoor restrooms (clean porta-potties are next door in the boatyard) which they are working on with construction, she said, imminent. Not ideal conditions but those q'd oysters are well worth it.

                        1. re: annabana


                          Marshall Store
                          19225 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 94940

                    2. Hello! Thought I'd contribute to the Nick's Cove discussion. (I rarely post, preferring instead to read others' thoughtful reviews, but I'm here on Tomales Bay for the holidays and thought, "What the hell.") I hope this won't be too longwinded. I always enjoy a blow-by-blow account, so I thought I'd offer one myself.

                      My husband and I had Christmas dinner at Nick's Cove two nights ago. Though we're frequent visitors to Tomales Bay, we hadn't been here before. As others have reported, the interior and setting are charming, cosy and lovely.

                      It was a crowded Christmas dinner service, so we went in with a pretty casual and undemanding attitude. The host was deeply apologetic about the (pretty short -- 15-minute) wait for our table, which was reserved.

                      The waitstaff, however, were another matter... Even given the difficulty of their holiday situation, they seemed to be remarkably careless. Long waits for things like bread, to have plates and unused glasses cleared, to have water refilled. Part of our order was forgotten, as well (we let it slide). There also seemed to be loud complaints from other tables in our vicinity, so I don't think we were the only ones who noticed...

                      Now to the food -- some of it was quite tasty. Here's what we had:

                      To begin, we shared a half dozen baked oysters Mornay, with bubbly gruyère on top. Very nice, but nothing spectacular, especially here in Oysterland.

                      Following that, we shared the foie gras and marrow bone starters. The veal marrow bones were very nice -- INCREDIBLY piping hot and served with long pieces of toasted baguette and a "tomato marmalade." (That's in quotes because I didn't quite get the "marmalade" part. It tasted quite like well-seasoned tomato paste to me... ) But delicious! It would be nice if they served this dish with actual marrow-scooping utensils instead of just a teaspoon and a shellfish fork, though. Access was... rather limited.

                      The foie was delicious, but I think the portion was minuscule, even by fine-dining standards. Our server made a point of telling us (three times) that the original portion was MUCH smaller and that she specifically requested a larger piece for us... but that larger piece was about the size and thickness of a book of matches. I can only wonder how small the regular portion is... Even so, it was well-prepared, and accompanied by similarly lilliputian slices of granny smith apples and a nice shallot relish.

                      We surprised ourselves by going for land-based entrees, and they were pretty successful. I had an on-the-bone hunk of pork loin, and my husband had the hanger steak. Any complaints about small portion size fly out the window here. Both entrees were satisfyingly-sized for Wagnerian heroes.

                      The balsamic-marinated hanger steak was well-prepared but unremarkable and served with mushrooms and greens. The loin was on the dry side (I probably should have known better than to order loin). It came, however with an INCREDIBLE macaroni and cheese with truffle oil. Wowee. Wowee-wow-wow.

                      We were going to wait a little while and digest a bit before ordering dessert, but we were informed by the server that we'd "better order quick -- we're running out of everything!" Really? At 7:30pm? Okay... So we ordered easily-transportably desserts to take back to our lodgings: a slice of bûche de Noël and their pumpkin bread pudding.

                      Fifteen minutes later, back in the room, we tucked into dessert. The bûche was dry and unremarkable. (I don't think it dried out on the ride home, as it was covered in Chantilly.) The pumpkin bread pudding was actually lovely, except for one thing: there were vinegary mushrooms packed in the box with it. Whoa! Whose were those? Wow... that's really careless.

                      So... overall, a mixed experience. The food was, for the most part, quite good. The macaroni and cheese, particularly and unexpectedly, was stellar! But was it worth the price? I'm afraid not. No way. And with the service as it was, it doesn't remain in my mind as a place to return to.

                      We've had more Tomales culinary adventures, but I'll seek out posts about those individual restaurants and post thoughts there...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: GapingMaw

                        >>> It would be nice if they served this dish with actual marrow-scooping utensils instead of just a teaspoon and a shellfish fork, though. Access was... rather limited.

                        In that case the correct proceedure is to pick it up with your fingers and suck that marrow out ... I joke ... sort of.

                        Thanks for the great report ... especially one for Christmas. Too few report back on holiday dinners and it is difficult to know what to recommend when the endless questions come up about where to eat ... or not to eat ... on Christmas.

                      2. Michael Bauer reports that he pulled a review from Sunday's paper after learning that they were making big changes in the menu and maybe rethinking the concept.

                        How can you change the concept of a place like that?


                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Focusing on providing quality and value for the money (rather than on trying to attain astronomical average check numbers) might be a start for this place (and many others that are having troubles these days...)

                          1. re: Thomas Nash

                            I think high checks may be something of a necessity given the reported $14 million cost (which includes the cottages), and the setting is worth paying something extra, but they have to make the food great if they want much business from locals.


                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Robert, your comments raise a question I have had about Nick's Cove. I used to launch my boat at the ramp in the park next door, and occasionally get a beer or sandwich at Nick's. When I read about the magical transformation of the place, I couldn't help but wonder...can a savvy man like Kuleto be serious? I love Tomales Bay, but I know from years of exposure that it will never be a destination for the upscale diner. Even Tony;s, with all its charm, can only make it three days a week. I assume they did a demographic study to spend that kind of money, but it seems to me to be a long shot.

                              1. re: OldTimer

                                Plus, it sat there dormant for the longest time. That has to have cost somebody a few bucks.

                                1. re: Sharuf

                                  Yeah, per the report I linked to the seven years it took to get the permits and finish the job ran up the cost from the initial estimate of $3.5 million to $14 million.

                                  Maybe some of the investors are millionaires who live out there and wanted a better restaurant in the neighborhood?

                        2. Apparently after Kuleto sold the place Bauer got the same inconsistent / bad food the rest of us did.


                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            This place was bad even when Kuleto owned it. I was there within the first year of opening and it was everything was less than mediocre. Bauer seems to have a thing for Kuleto’s restaurants. The lunches I’ve had at Water Bar were just as bad, yet he put that in the top 100 a few years back as well.

                            1. re: sunnyside

                              Places that have inconsistent food and/or service but recognize Bauer sometimes manage to give him a better experience than the average customer. La Suite and Tres Agaves were a couple of the more extreme examples.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Yes, Tres Agaves was another one that had me baffled by Bauer's good reviews at the time.