Staying in Bodega Bay for two nights
We often travel to Sonoma and in fact just came back from our fourth 3-day trip there this year. Next time we will keep in mind ammeck63's statement that Terrapin is better than River's End. We had a gift certificate from a friend for River's End and so picked it for lunch on our last day (which was Friday 8/17, in fact). We LOVED our lunch at River's End and the day was perfect, the fog receded and the sun came out; gorgeous view from a window table.
Terrapin was in the running but we didn't have the time to go there too. Will definitely add it to our next itinerary, thanks!
Back to the OP - me, I didn't care for Spud Pt's clam chowder. DH loved it, but I don't like my chowder thickened at all, and the slight excess of thyme is a turnoff for me. The shrimp salad sandwich is far better than the crab sw; but only if you like "wet" sandwiches on soft rolls. DH likes "dry" sandwiches so he didn't care for it.
Our preferred restaurant in Sonoma is Bistro 29 in Santa Rosa, but it's further from Bodega Bay than Petaluma or Sebastopol. In Petaluma this time we had a terrific dinner at Le Bistro, a little east of downtown. Superb lamb tenderloin and excellent seafood. Our friends told us the new Rosso's Pizza and Mozzarella Bar (the place isn't new, but the mozzarella bar is) is sensational. The chopped burrata with prosciutto dish that the Chron raved about, was joined in by our friends, who said it was one of the greatest dishes they'd ever had.
In Sebastopol (not this last trip, but our previous 3-day visit in June) we enjoyed a beautiful lunch at French Garden. The crab cakes with preserved Meyer lemon were amazing. I usually avoid crab cakes at restaurants because when I make them at home, I use so little filler they're super-delicate and fall apart easily - so we hate the ones full of filler. FG made crab cakes as good as mine, maybe even a little better. They put some of the preserved Meyer into the cake itself and it was stunning with the fresh Dungeness crabmeat. Lovely dining room, excellent service.
Just FYI, our bias is towards French food, and we don't drink. We're also not price-sensitive, but none of these restaurants are budget-busters.
I prefer the food at Terrapin Creek, but I do have to admit that the view at River's End is hard to match (when the fog is out!). So I'll leave it up to individual choice as to which is "better". Glad you had a great lunch and thanks for the recommendation for the French Garden. I need to try it again...
I really will look forward to trying Terrapin next time we're up in Sonoma, then! River's End gave us a great lunch last week of the following:
Ceviche - perfect. DH loves ceviche and orders it whenever he sees it. Beautiful mix of Alaskan cod and tiny bay scallops, marinated in a lime and orange juice blend.
Heirloom tomato salad. Two thick slices layered with well-brown fresh mozzarella patties and strips of roasted peeled red bells. Mixed greens had a whole-grain mustard dressing that wasn't overwhelming, and an EVOO-balsamic dressing had been drizzled over the tomatoes/cheese/peppers. We were impressed how the two dressings were in perfect balance and didn't overwhelm any of the fresh, sweet flavors. We eat out a lot, and maybe 10% of the salads we get are properly dressed. This was a five-star salad, so gorgeous that diners at the table next to us turned around and exclaimed over it!
Clam chowder. I'm in the "don't thicken my chowder" camp but DH likes it that way, so he liked this. Very mild clams, though. Spud Pt.'s chowder is better in his opinion, Sea Salt/Berkeley rules in mine.
Sea bass with Israeli couscous and baby brussel sprout leaves. A fabulously fresh piece of fish, perfectly cooked. Sublime. My only negative was the sauce. It was a well-made sauce, a fruity whole-grain mustard sauce, sweet and light, but I just don't like sweet sauces with my entrees, no matter who makes them.
Pasta with shrimps and mushrooms. Housemade eggless tagliatelle in a light cream sauce with very fresh shrimp and some of the most delicious sauteed mushrooms and shallots DH has encountered. This ranked even with Le Bistro/Petaluma's terrific pasta with shrimp in vodka cream sauce he'd eaten two days prior. Both light, perfectly balanced, completely satisfying without the need for any cheese (he's a grated cheese fiend, and it's got to be a perfect sauce before he'll skip adding it to his pasta).
Fresh peach trifle. Served in a wine goblet, very thin layers of spongecake soaked in peach liqueur, layered with peach bavarian cream and sliced toasted almonds. Absolutely yummy. Our only caveat is that their coffee is on the weak side for our tastes.
Question for others re Bodega – has anyone tried the Duck Club restaurant here? I ask because we love the food at the Duck Club in Lafayette.
Bodega Bay is not really known for its food but there is good food in the surrounding areas. Spud Point is on the Westside Road and is known for it's chowder. I don't recommend their crab sandwich. If you are coming from Petaluma, consider a stop in Valley Ford at Rocker Oysterfellers. If you are coming through Sebastopol, try Hole in the Wall.
Jenner is about 15 minutes north and has River's End which looks very good. The Indian place on the south side of the Russian River is OK but not spectacular.
Expect fog for most if not all of the day. Don't miss Bodega Head which is not a restaurant but is a gorgeous place to hike and view the coast. Many beaches and coastal areas are accesible north of the bay.
Please don't go in the water except for Doran Beach. This is not an area for swimming or wading. Many people drown here every year.
Welcome to Sonoma County!
14415 Valley Ford Road, Valley Ford, CA 94972
11048 Highway 1, Jenner, CA 95450
Hole in the Wall
972 Gravenstein Hwy South, Sebastopol, CA 95472
re: Andrew H
I would recommend Terrapin Creek Cafe (www.terrapincreekcafe.com) if you're staying in Bodega Bay. I prefer it to the River's End. Bistro des Copains (www.bistrodescopains.com) in Occidental is well worth the drive. Enjoy your trip!
11048 Highway 1, Jenner, CA 95450
Terrapin Creek Cafe
1580 Eastshore Rd, Bodega Bay, CA 94923
Had a great light lunch at Terrapin. Beet and goat cheese salad was simple but every element was perfect. Crab cake salad, same only more so, not a speck of shell in the crab, no filler, orange segments peeled. Worthy successors to Seaweed and definitely deserve their Michelin star. Looking forward to trying dinner and returning at lunch for their Reuben.