Sausalito: Mmmmm Murray Circle and Farley Bar… a nice bay view AND good food
- rworange Jun 28, 2008 10:42 PM
Sitting on the large veranda on a plush comfy couch, watching the ships, boats and ferries glide through the Golden Gate, I had …
- Fritto misto of local fish and shellfish $12
- Corn and clam chowder $10
- Wood-grilled peaches wrapped in procuitto, basil $7
- Elderflower tea by Modern Tea $4
- Grüner Veltliner $13
- Anchor Steam beer $4.50
The fritto misto was lovely in a light tempura batter. It was a generous serving and came with excellent house-made tartar sauce and a half of a grilled lemon.
The fish was super-fresh and tasted of the sea in the best way. It was a mix of prawns, calamari, oysters and white fish. What was interesting about the oysters is that they used different varieties. I cut into one piece of fish and was shocked by a scarlet color. It turned out to be squid tentacles.
The chowder was the color of corn silk It was a thick, buttery, cream-based chowder. Four in-shell cherrystone clams were in the center. I liked this but didn’t love it. It isn’t quite corn season yet so the flavor wasn’t there and there wasn’t all that much corn. There were two small pieces of potato so I’m guessing some of the thickness had to do with spuds.
A peach cut in quarters was wrapped around the most delicious procuitto. The table next to me was commenting about how good it was. There was a scarlet dressing on the peaches and it was a lovely dish … peachy, savory, smoky.
I asked for a wine suggestion that would carry me through the chowder and peaches. After talking to the sommelier, the server brought out the Grüner Veltliner which wasn’t on the wine list. It was absolutely perfect for both dishes.
The tea was served in a nice blue teapot and very pleasant.
This is the type of place to just sit back and relax.
This was the bar menu. The restaurant was booked.
I liked it well enough to make a reservation for Sunday brunch … to be continued.
Forgot the link but I’m adding some comments here.
I know there is another recent report out there.
This was not my experience so I didn’t tack this report on the end. I really enjoyed the whole dinner.
I was almost hesitant to go after reading the yelp reviews. IMO, they are unfair.
The restaurant only opened on Monday. Last month it had a soft opening. There are some glitches but they seem workable. Details about the restaurant after brunch.
601 Murray Circle, Sausalito, CA 94965
I thought of you today. The tables are all very well-spaced.
I personally didn't think the service was too formal. It is NOT Dining Room at the Ritz formal. It reminds me a lot of the old Bizou. The servers all wear black pants, muted gold and black striped vests and open-colored crisp white shirts. I found them lovely and not at all pretentious or snooty.
Just got home so will write this up later tonight or tommorrow morning. A small plates brunch is an interesting concept. Don't know if people will go for it. Once you get your head around it, IMO, it works. However, another restaurant tried this a few years ago and dropped the idea because customers complained ... anyway ... will write more later.
The same brunch menu is served in the restaurant, bar and veranda. Reservations are taken for the restaurant. First-come, first-serve at the bar
- Chilled sweet pea gazpacho, citrus-fennel ice $10
- Garden omelet, farm fresh eggs, savoy spinach, morels $15
- House Made Breakfast Breads & Pastries $15
- Pot of Blue Flower Earl Grey Tea by Modern Tea $4
- Pot of Jo Genmaicha Tea by Modern Tea $4
A warm Parker House roll with butter was served with breakfast. The restaurant has plans to churn its own butter in the future.
HOUSE MADE BREAKFAST BREADS & PASTRIES
First the outstanding … the best croissant I have ever had in my life … anywhere … even Paris. It is what all croissants should dream of being … the perfect crunchy exterior with a rich light center and full of buttery flavor.
There were two other items …
Blueberry Streusel Muffin: Large, buttery muffin with nice crumb and generous blueberries. It was not overly sweet like some streusel muffins can be.
Coffee cake: Even better than the muffin. It is nice that these aren’t overly sweet. Nice crumble on top buttery taste and cinnamon swirled throughout. This was a large square.
From one of the cooking classes scheduled at Murray Circle this bio of Executive Pastry Chef Ethan Howard
“pastry chef of Bouchon Bakery and Restaurant and Ad Hoc in Yountville, California, where he oversaw the pastry department for both restaurants and was part of the team that garnered Bouchon its first Michelin star. Ethan first gained kitchen experience on college summer breaks working at Fleur de Lys in San Francisco and Payard Patisserie and Bistro in New York. In 1999, Howard joined the staff at The French Laundry and later became pastry chef for the opening of Martini House in Napa Valley's St. Helena.”
Having had an excellent pot of tea the day before, when I asked for the tea list … out comes the server with a wooden box of Peet’s tea bags. After picking up my jaw from the floor and regaining a look of composure, I asked about the Modern Tea and was told it was served at dinner. They will serve it at brunch if you ask (or look like you are having the vapors by being presented with Peet’s)
First of all, a restaurant of this caliber and price range has no business serving Peet’s Tea and Coffee … proudly even. I like Peet’s well enough … at my local dive coffee shop.
Anyway, I’m now in love with Modern Tea. That was an amazing Earl Grey and the nutty-tasting Japanese Jo Genmaicha is my favorite so far.
One of the little glitches, IMO, is they don’t give you a dish to put the metal basket holding the tea. Some get too bitter for me if brewed too long.
CHILLED SWEET PEA GAZPACHO, CITRUS-FENNEL ICE
The pea gazpacho was poured from a pitcher around about a half a cup of chilled whole fresh peas that were topped with the orange-colored ice which was lovely.
This was good … but … I’ve now had a very similar dish at two other restaurants – The Dining Room at the Ritz and Ubuntu.
For those who yawn at Ubuntu, the cold pea soup there was complex with the soul of sweet pea flavor. It was everything good about peas. It is what elevates Ubuntu to greatness. They KNOW vegetables. Also, Ron Siegal’s pea soup was very similar in intense, layered flavor.
From what I’ve tasted, I think Marin Organic which buys supplies needs to do a better job.
I am soooooo far from a cook, but I know how to shop so I buy the tastiest most flavorful fruits and veggies and let the flavor do the work for me. I never would have bought Iocopi peas. Don’t know where the blueberries in the muffin came from, but they could have had a little more flavor
Nice Marin IJ article about Murray Circle … as for sourcing it says …
“Humphrey is working closely with Marin Organic to buy supplies. He called the Point Reyes-based nonprofit his "primary conduit to top-notch local ingredients, grass-fed sustainably raised beef, produce - pretty much anything with the exception of fish." (Fish, only sustainably caught or raised, will come from Paul Johnson and the Monterey Fish Co.)”
It was interesting because I was thinking that whoever was sourcing the produce wasn’t doing as good a job as sourcing the fish and I was guessing they were different.
GARDEN OMELET, FARM FRESH EGGS, SAVOY SPINACH, MORELS
I’m guessing a two egg omelet, with a tablespoon of spinach and … at most … four morels … $15.
It was fine … this lone little omelet, naked on a white plate. Even given a premium price for view, expert staff, and quality ingredients … the most expensive dozen of eggs I ever bought was $9 at Ferry Plaza … that’s retail … so at a generous $1.50 for eggs, 25 cents worth at most of pricy spinach and maybe $2.50 worth of morels … throw in $1 more for butter and cream … and that price-guessing is probably on the VERY generous side … I felt it was too pricy.
Looking around at other plates the stand-out dish is seems to be the eggs Benedict. The waffles, French toast and pancakes also looked like good bets. I also might like to try the made-to-order quiche. The breakfast sausages were a plate of four sausages.
THE CONCEPT – SMALL PLATES AT BRUNCH
Each item is ordered a la carte. Other than the roll, there is nothing on the plate beside the item ordered.
It explains the statement the server made yesterday about people not understanding the small plate concept. I am guessing this extends to dinner. While people understand that for lunch and dinner, doing this at brunch time might be an idea that people aren’t ready for.
I like this once I understood what was going on … and also that breakfast at Murray Circle was going to run from $20 - $30.
I don’t like potatoes with breakfast. So mix and matching as I like is a good idea. If I want potatoes, I order them … or sausage or bacon. Maybe I want salad with my omelet or quiche.
Oddly enough, Dead Fish in Rodeo … yep, that sister of the Stinking Rose … did this four years ago. I loved it because I could get an omelet and not bother with the food or calories I didn’t want. The prices were amazing (and the portions substantial). I could get out of there having an egg dish served with Acme pan de miel and GOOD coffee (Mr. Espresso, I believe) for about $7.
The Rodeo locals hated this concept. No one wanted to pay money for home fries. Or extra for sausage … they wanted BREAKFAST damn it.
So Dead Fish upped the prices and started serving conventional breakfast plates. I stopped going, and was contemptuous that other customers didn’t appreciate this.
Yeah … today at Murray Circle … given the prices I’m getting what was upsetting to the Dead Fish crowd.
But if the restaurant is going to do this … break up that bread basket … That’s a $15 commitment. I’m sure people would love to order a single muffin, croissant or pieces of coffee cake.
BREAKFAST BUFFET 7am-10am daily ($18)
I was there early so I took a look at the breakfast buffet..
There were two side tables. One had four chafing dishes (didn’t see what was inside), fresh fruit, baked goods like muffins, bagels, brioche, croissants.
The other had urns of Peet’s coffee, a wooden box of Peet’s teas, juices.
I also saw people eating bowls of granola, steel cut oats, and Strauss yogurt … ok, I’m getting that from the online menu … but I did see people with bowls of these items.
At first I thought … eh. But given I spent $15 for three baked goods … breakfast is looking like quite the deal.
Would I go back … hell, YES.
I have a better feel on what to order and that it is going to be super pricy
I can’t think of a more pleasant, beautiful and relaxing place to have brunch.
Minutia like full menu, service, atmosphere, etc in a separate post.
BRUNCH MENU – Sunday June 29th, 2008
- Bloody Mary $9
- Mimosa $14
- Seasonal fruit smoothie $8
- House Made Breakfast Breads & Pastries $15
- House Made Granola, $7
- Organic Oatmeal, Warm Strauss Dairy Milk, Preserves $9
- Garden omelet, farm fresh eggs, savoy spinach, morels $15
- Classic Eggs Benedict House Cured Ham, Fresh Baked English Muffin, $15
- Steak & Eggs Wagyu Beef “Hash,” Gypsy Pepper Marmalade $18
- Baked To Order Quiche $14
- Liberty Farm Duck “Lyonnaise” confit leg crepinettes, duck egg $17
- Cornmeal Pancakes $9
- Crisp sourdough Waffle $9
- Ciabatta French Toast $9
- Half Dozen Drake’s Bay oysters, jalapeno mignotte $12
- Little gem lettuces, creamy Parmesan dressing, house-cured anchovies $8
- Chilled sweet pea gazpacho, citrus-fennel ice $10
- Shaved fennel, apple and cucumber salad, white prawns, juniper vinaigrette
- Mixed young lettuces, summer fruit, vegetables and herbs $9
- Grass fed burger, hand-cut fries $16
- Line-caught ling cod, summer beans, dry cured olives, smoked paprika $17
- Local halibut, applewood smoked bacon, classic caper brown butter $15
- Apple-fed pork chop, wilted Swiss chard, spring onions $23
- Organic Petaluma game hen, heirloom potato salad, caraway $19
- Applewood smoked bacon $5
- House-made breakfast sausage $5
- Kennebunk potato cakes $5
WINE AND SPIRITS MENUS
Take this with the source in mind … me … not very wine-savy
This is the best wine list I have ever seen with some very affordable bottles … and some very high end … anything from $20 to $1300 on the over 90 page menu.
Daniel Obrian, wine director
Laurel Shaffer, sommelier
The wines are divided in two categories
- Market List Value $20 - $85
- Reserve $50 - $1300 with most around the $100 give or take $20.
The Market value listed old world and new world whites and reds
The Reserve section had these sections
Featured vineyard. This month it is Peay
Four pages. This is one category of wine I am familiar with and these were excellent, excellent selections.
Good, if pricy, selection of half bottles that run from $30-$295
Whites: American, French, Italian, German, Other European, Southern hemisphere,
Reds: American, French, Italian, German, Other European, Southern hemisphere, Spanish, Australian
Sauternes / Barsac
Yep, never heard of barsac either
There was a bottle of 1975 Chateau d’Yqem $1200
Dessert – America, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy
As good as the wine list is the cocktail / spirits menu is just insulting. It goes on for over 40 pages describing in detail each drink … over half of which are available at Safeway.
For example, the page on beer talks about what beer is made of … like hops which give bitterness to beer, etc, etc, etc … for those of us who are not 'beer geeks' ... and after all the blah, blah, blah … all they have is three beers on the list … Anchor Steam, Amstel Light and Guinness … which are also explained in detail … except for one crucial fact … never mentions if they are bottled or draft … however I could have missed that in all the verbiage.
The instructions on the website are worthless. Going by street name when there are few street signs …
First … if you are going UP any hills … you are going the wrong way. From SF, take the Alexander Ave Exit. Can’t tell you how that works as I missed that.
1. Take the Sausalito exit … the last before the bridge.
2. You will come to a stop sign with NO information about the hotel or street signs. Take a right and follow the arrows for the Discovery Museum.
3. Just after the next stop sign, take a left toward the tunnel. If you miss it, you will wind up in Downtown Sausalito.
4. Just before the tunnel, take a right where the hotel is FINALLY mentioned.
5. Follow winding roads to bottom of the hill. Seriously have a designated driver. I can see a disaster after dark on that unlighted winding road. They need lights.
Can anyone tell I took a few wrong turns … multiple times?
On Saturday, cars stopped at the guard station and were told where to park along the curb.
On Sunday, it was valet parking only. I was told there is a lot of traffic with people checking out of the hotel so the curbs are kept free. Valet parking is free.
It seems the lot is nearby. I would really rather have the option of parking my own car.
It would be nice though if they had a bench near the valet to sit and wait.
The tables are well-spaced in the two large rooms. An outdoor patio is part of the restaurant.
The windows are standard windows, so there is not at much of a view as there could be. I had the loveliest table with one of the best views. However, if someone was with me, their back would be toward the bay and even the outdoor view would be limited.
This is the definition of a romantic. There were two fireplaces in my room. The corner banquettes have people sitting near one another.
One thing I liked was that there were stylish salt and pepper shakers on the tables.
It is understated, comfortable elegance
The outdoor patio has rocking chairs around a fire pit. There are other chairs and tables with a large BBQ
There are just four tables with four large wicker chairs. A back more private section has couches along the wall. The bar has eight chars and there is a long wooden bench along another wall. There is a back area with wall couches
Fireplaces are at either end, with photo of Frank Farley over one. One large screen tv is in the corner.
Nice music selection of background music that was unobtrusive
The veranda is part of the bar area with couches on one side and rocking chair on the other.
I thought it was very nice, friendly, professional and helpful without being stuffy. The place has been open for one week. If they keep a lot of this staff, over time as they get familiar with the restaurant, it should be solid.
Reading the Sunday paper in the bar while waiting for brunch and eavesdropping a little, there is a lot of discussion amoung the staff about how to fine tune operations.
Menus on June 28th, 2008
Fritto misto of local fish and shellfish $12
Wood-grilled peaches wrapped in procuitto, basil $7
Half Dozen Drake’s Bay oysters, jalapeno mignotte $11
Three Dungeness crab cakes $15
Little gem lettuces, creamy Parmesan dressing, house-cured anchovies $7
Butter leaf salad, butter leaf buttermilk herb dressing $9
Heirloom beet salad, fresh burrata $11
Local Halibut, smoked bacon, caper brown butter $15
Grass-fed burger, fries $16
Served after 5pm
Corn and Clam chowder $10
Chicken Pot Pie $19
Chocolate butter cake $7
Star Route Farms young lettuces, summer fruit, vegetables and herbs $10
Knoll Farms green garlic as a “Vichyssoise, grilled grapes, radish, spiced almonds $13
Iacopi Farm sweet English peas as a gazpacho, citrus-fennel ice $13
In a ravioli, pistachio emulsion baby carrots, tarragon $14
Capay organics heirloom tomatoes, compressed watermelon, basil
Marin Mediterranean mussels, smoked paprika $15
Grass-fed beef tartar, smoked egg sabayon, pine nuts, aged sherry vinegar $17
Wood-roasted rib-eye, grape gastique, avocado $22
Wolfe Canyon Quail Romesco, broccoli di cicco, dry cured olive
Red Hill Farms Grass-fed lamb, braised shoulder, cannelloni, parmesan cream, grilled gem lettuce $16
Marin Sun Farms chicken, savoy cabbage, mustard seed vinaigrette, whole grain mustard $19
Dungeness Crab, F/V (fishing vessel) Rony Lynn, Half Moon Bay
Sunflower seeds, vanilla, D’anjou pear, jalapeno $15
Creamy bisque, kaffir lime, baked crab cake $15
Live spot Prawns, F/V Sara Marie, Oxnard
Barely cooked sweet corn custard, pickled chanterelles $15
Line-caught white sea bass, San Diego
From the plancha, charred squid, toasted garlic saffron emulsion $14
Halibut, f/v, Three Captains, HMB
Roasted in fig leaves, sassafras, orange, fennel “brandade” $16
Wild sturgeon, Columbia River, Washington
Wood-grilled, creamy morels, smoked bacon $18
We were there for Father's Day Brunch a few weeks ago and I have to echo rworange's comments, especially about the bread basket. My in-laws were visiting so alas I've been too busy to post about the meal. They were very nice to my daughters and there were babies and other toddlers in the dining room. My in-laws said it was one of the best Bloody Marys they'd ever had. And the dining room was just gorgeous - the fog broke while we were there, so we finally ended up with a nice view of the bridge.
On another note, we also walked all around and poked our noses into places that perhaps we weren't supposed to. Upstairs from the restaurant and bar was another verandah that was quieter and also had nicer views because of the height - I'd get a drink from Farley and walk up there to sit. There was also their cooking school set up, which looked quite good but nowhere near ready.
The next building along was where you'd check into the hotel. There was a pretty art gallery there and a really nice gift shop - not only Cavallo Point merchandise, but a lot of GGNRA stuff with history of the GG Bridge.
The next few buildings were hotel rooms - the original rooms as mentioned in their website. The new rooms were behind the original buildings, in new and very uninspiring looking blocks - I'd avoid them like the plague.
I'd recommend taking a stroll around, the exterior has a wonderful atmosphere.
I LOL'd at the "wooden box with Peet's tea bags" story, especially since they have better (although you didn't explicitly say that Modern Tea was loose). Actually, though, Peet's does quite decent tea -- I sometimes buy a can of one of their loose teas, and they brew the loose tea for you in the shop (in a pot or if you're taking it to go, with one of those oversize custom fillable teabags).
I just don't get why a place that has a good tea service for dinner can't serve the same tea other times of the day. Since when is putting tea in a pot and pouring water over it too difficult for the average server?
re: Ruth Lafler
I actually thought of you when the server came out with it. Yes., Modern Tea is loose.
I can see for the breakfast buffet when everything is self-serve to have the tea bags. Actually, when I went back for the breakfast buffet I ate ... drank ... my words about the Pete's coffee. They are probably having Pete's making a special blend and it was one of the best medium roast coffees I've ever had.
re: Mick Ruthven
Yeah, thanks ... originally MC was listed in SF and I see they are now listing Sausalito on the website.
The only time I saw the dining room get formal was during dinner service. The ladies were all in their little black dresses and dress heels. Men nice shirts, slacks and most carried a jacket. Most had no tie.
What shocked me the first visit was everyone was in jeans and shorts. I dressed up somewhat the first time, and went casual today.
This is a MAJOR ... MAJOR ... kid-friendly AND dog-friendly place. You can bring your dog on the porch and they even had a water dish for the pooches.
Great ... great ... for kids. There is a huge green across the way and the kids go off and play while the adults sit on the veranda chatting. The place is so spacious that kids don't even make a dent in the ambiance. They even have high chairs.
Yeah, I know there are some good reviews too on yelp. It doesn't deserve a standing ovation yet, but, IMO, it is positioned that way. Lovely place.
Haven't eaten there yet, but I did stop by for drinks on the way back to the City from up North. I expected it to be right on the water and was a bit diappointed with the distance from the water's edge and the angle of the views. However, it was on that super hot Friday (the 20th) and I was frazzled, and it may have affected my first impressions. It is an interesting place and I'm glad it is there. They we're definitely just figuring out what they were doing behind the bar. Understandable this early in it's life.
Had to make an 8:30p reservation last night, later than we prefer, but that was OK until we had to wait 40 minutes to be seated. Things happen but this did not happen very well.
Not only did it take 40 minutes to be seated, but 1) When we entered a little early, we were told "5 to 10 minutes," 2) we then waited an inordinate amount of time for someone to take our drink order in the bar, 3) at 9:05, a bar waiter said she'd check on our reservation and came back a minute later saying she'd gotten us a table (what if she hadn't checked?), 4) we were taken to a table, but it wasn't ready, so we stood there awkwardly waiting some more.
What I'm saying is, if they say "5 to 10" minutes, ask them what the time will really be and be aggressive -- unless you don't mind waiting.
All that griping being griped, it's an interesting place to eat. My tips:
1) The menu isn't divided into appetizers and entrees. The waiter recommended three dishes each. But five dishes total was a little too much for the two of us. The meat and fish dishes were generous -- rich and filling.
2) Budget some time to sit or stroll outside before or after -- mystical in this foggy season. There's a large patio next to the building with, last night at least, a nice fire to sit around. I felt like getting the cigars out, except I don't smoke.
3) Best dishes: beef tartare, ribeye.
4) I would call it moderately priced in the scheme of things. The ribeye was about $17. Some places would charge over $20 for the same dish.
Final comment: I'm against the "french presse" coffee trend. Just give me a cup of coffee.
Did they serve you coffee in a small French Press? That's the fad in NY. I like French Pressed coffee, but when they serve it like that (and it's a TINY French Press) you can't get a refill without springing for another pot.
I agree with the "moderate" price characterization, assuming one orders wisely. Most of the entrees seem to be in the mid- to upper teens. Of course, if you order a $15 bread basket....
Based on these fabulous reports, I walked over there today after wandering around the Sausalito Art Festival. Sadly for me, I arrived shortly after the dining room closed and I was relegated to the lounge with its limited menu.
I went ahead and ordered heavy, knowing I would rather taste a lot and have left-overs; a butter lettuce salad with buttermilk dressing, grilled peaches wrapped with prosciutto, and a Dover sole wrapped in bacon with a caper sauce on broccoli with burrata.
Of the three, I enjoyed the butter lettuce salad the most. The grilled peaches were very good and the Dover sole the least impressive, being rather dry with not as many capers as I would have liked (in fact, I think there were only one or two on the entire plate).
I also ordered two cocktails, a Mojito which I found way too sweet and a Sidecar which was on the bitter side.
I look forward to going back and eating in the dining room, foregoing cocktails for wine.
re: Carrie 218
Hope you get to try that croissant on another visit. I'm telling you, it justifies Murray's Circle existence. I want to go back and try some of the other desserts.
I've been holding off on the dinner menu until they get fully settled in .. though I'm seriously considering Thanksgiving there. Looking forward to your report.
Yeah, from sitting at the bar it doesn't seem that they have worked out their cocktail 'issues'. I wouldn't bother either. One of the weak spots of MC is that they need a stronger general manager to oversee the operation. There are little pockets like service and bar management that no one is paying close enough (or intelligent) attention to. It has the potential to ruin an otherwise wonderful restaurant.
Admittedly, it was a busy Labor Day when we had lunch at the bar, but we still paid top price for a disappointing meal and chaotic service. The bartender/server was overwhelmed (I think mostly by the computer system) and made sure that everybody knew how harried he was feeling. We had to ask repeatedly for utensils, water, and our food--my soup sat in front of me for 10 minutes before my husband's came out. The food was was decorative but not all that tasty. And, let me repeat, the tab was high--2 Bloody Marys, two cold soups, and two green salads for $71. It's a lovely spot, but in the future we'll pick up a picnic and take advantage of the bayfront tables.
Really good points, Bara -- I repeatedly heard both bartenders tell *everyone* they were serving how busy they were; not a good sign. And the waitresses were in a constant pow-wow in the back corner as to who was going to cover which table because someone didn't show up or something. I sat there and watched them for some time before they realized I probably wanted to order something... I also asked for water when I arrived and never got any. My two drinks and three dishes were $80.00