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Sep 12, 2013 03:00 PM

Point Reyes / Tomales Bay

(Note: We split this post from existing thread abut Atelier Crenn at: -- The Chowhound Team)

Thanks everyone - I called and left a message and just received a call back from a hostess who cleared things up and explained that the chef's tasting menu is not only available on Saturday evenings, however it is the only available menu for Saturday evening dining. In other words, they do not offer a la carte service on Saturdays. This is where the confusion came about. All cleared up now though!

That said, they are still completely booked for next weekend and so we've decided that instead of just doing a fancy dinner, we're going to spend the weekend in Marin. I just booked the Big Rock cottage at Nick's Cove and made dinner reservations there for Sunday evening. Before I create a separate post concerning this, does anyone know if Osteria Stellina Restaurant is still any good and the best choice in Point Reyes/Tamales Bay next to Nick's for fier atmospheric dining? I need a second option for the next night.

As much as I'd love to dine at Crenn, I think the wife would prefer the full weekend getaway experience over a single meal so Nick's Cove it is. We'll have to take a raincheck; maybe sometime end of next month once I replenish the ol' pocket book!

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  1. I'd be curious to try Sir and Star in Olema. At Nick's I recommend you stick to basics aka food no one can mess up.

    22 Replies
    1. re: rubadubgdub

      Why's that, is the chef overly ambitious?

      They offer tasting menus and everything I've seen in photos looks excellent and really fresh. I imagine most of the shellfish comes right out of the traps/nets and the produce is all sustainable from their organic garden. They even have a chicken farm where they harvest their own eggs. I'm surprised to hear the food isn't that hot. I've heard their mac 'n' cheese is supposed to be deadly; at least according to all the press and media coverage I've seen. I guess food is secondary to the setting though.

      1. re: OliverB

        In 2009, Nick's was not worth eating at unless you were sitting with Michael Bauer, who apparently got better meals than normal people.

        This year, even Bauer had a bad time.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Wow, that sounds pretty bad!

          Unforunately we're going to be in Point Reyes over a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday due to a wedding party having booked the property for the weekend (just as well because I wouldn't want to stay while that's going on!) but it's our bad luck that Sir and Star at The Olema is only open Wed-Sat so we couldn't dine there anyhow. I initially thought that regardless of the meal, it would be worthwhile to eat at least one dinner at Nick's Cove, since we're staying at the property and the setting is beautiful, but now after having read Bauer's review, I'm not so sure! The photos I've seen on Yelp and TA look really terrific, but that review is pretty merciless. Apart from Sir and Star and Osteria, what else is Chowhound worthy in the area and also offers a fun and romantic atmosphere?

          1. re: OliverB

            Honestly, it's the setting that will be most memorable I think. Get a dozen oysters and some good wine in the restaurant or to have on your deck. Hog Island just down the way sells bread, cheese, charcuterie, too. I've stayed at Nick's once and find that it's the kind of place where you mostly want to stay put. There's another newish restaurant on the Inverness side that may be worth trying: Saltwater Oyster Depot. I haven't been but it gets positive reviews.

            1. re: rubadubgdub

              Thanks for affirming what I'd expected about Nick's!

              The good news is that Yelp posted misinformation - Sir and Star is actually open on Sunday evenings afterall, so I went ahead and made reservations for 7:30pm that night and am very much looking forward to it!

              We have lunch res. at Saltwater the day that we arrive. We're driving in early on Sunday, having lunch at Saltwater at 11:30am and then hiking through the Tule Elk Reserve via Tomales Point Trailhead to Tomales Point and White Gulch. Then checking into our cottage at Nick's Cove, dinner at Sir and Star, and back to our waterfront cottage to enjoy the rest of the evening.

              I'm really glad that we were able to get into Sir and Star; it looks fantastic and as soon as it was suggested in this thread I was sold on visiting!

              I hope that our first day is not overly ambitious however - as you said, part of the draw when staying at Nick's is enjoying the picturesque setting and surroundings. Is the dining room at Nick's worth spending any money in at all, and does it seem silly to not at least visit once while staying at the property? I've been running through the reviews on TA and they're pretty appalling. Food not properly cooked or served at the wrong temperatures, not tasting fresh, absurd portions, poor value, etc. As much as I'd love to sit by the waterfront overlooking Tomales Bay at sunset, enjoying the scenic view, all of the bad reviews and poor feedback do not sound like they'd translate to an enjoyable/romantic/special evening.

              1. re: OliverB

                Sun sounds a little ambitious but possible. If you're really heading out early, I'd do the hike before a late lunch (with wine). I don't know if your goal is to get to the actual Point but it's a (windy) out and back hike in which you can turn around at any time and still feel fairly virtuous. May I again emphasize the oysters at Nick's as the way to go? The setting is nice in the evenings. But I might bring a cake from SF if that's an important part of the celebration. BTW Hog Island would be lovely on a weekday when it's not overrun.

                1. re: rubadubgdub

                  Thanks, we may not hike the entire loop... we want to see the Tule Elk during rutting season and take in some of the panoramas but we're not commited to more then 2-3 hours and we plan to layer well!

                  I figure that we'll have a good several hours if we're eating at Saltwater at 11:30 am, so we should be able to enjoy the outdoors between 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm at the latest. I'd like to head back to Nick's and check-in for no later than 6:00 pm, so that we can settle in and relax, enjoy the sunset and possibly a waterfront cocktail on our deck before dinner.

                  We'll probably sleep in the next morning and have breakfast on our deck or by the woodburning stove, and then possibly do a trail ride from Inverness Ridge to Wildcat Beach, though I have to explore that in more detail as I'm still undecided. We may just hike along the Headlands and explore the tidepools, sandstone cliffs and colorful wildflowers lining the seashore.

                  We'll probably spend the latter half of the afternoon in town, browsing through goods at PR Farmstead Cheese Company, Tomales Bay Foods & Cowgirl Creamery, Bovine Bakery, Point Reyes Books, etc. Then head back to Nick's for some BBQ'd oysters and local cheese plate on our deck before sunset. That night we have reservations for dinner at Osteria Stellina Restaurant at 8:15 pm.

                  The next and final day, I'm hoping to wake up early and head to Drakes Bay Cafe for breakfast and then kayak in the Estero, though I'm waiting to hear back from Blue Waters outfitter because they don't seem to have anything scheduled for that morning. I'm hoping they'll either allow us to rent a boat to paddle through the eelgrass and oyster beds to explore the marine life and waterfowl, or offer us a private tour at reasonable cost if nothing else is scheduled. We'll make a quick lunch stop at the Hog Island boathouse afterward, and then head back to the city.

                  1. re: OliverB

                    You have a great plan, I'm no longer worried for your stomach.

                    1. re: OliverB

                      We stayed in Marshall recently just south of Hog Island Oyster. If you can reserve a table well ahead of time at Hog Island for a BBQ there, we highly recommend it. They have a nice beer and wine selection should you need.

                      The trip from Nick's to town is longer than you can imagine. It really started to become laborious to go to Osteria Stellina, which is good, but a tough drive after a long day and a glass of wine.

                      From Nick's, you might want to entertain heading north into Petaluma to one of Della Fattoria's Ranch dinners or Friday dinners. We found it to be a nice change of pace and an easier drive. It's also the way we prefer to come and go from SF. Much easier.


                      Bovine Bakery was great, but I was disappointed that they only serve coffee, no espresso drinks. The tour/class at Cowgirl was terrific. The best picnic.

                      Also, if Blue Waters doesn't get back to you, we have had excellent excursions with Point Reyes Outdoors. Laurie who coordinated for us was the best and our guide, a sixth grade science teacher was incredible. If they are still doing bio-luminescence kayaks, do it!


                      Have a great trip.

                      1. re: revets2

                        We were just in the area as well. I was very impressed by the Tomales Bakery in Tomales, which is north on 1 instead of south.

                        1. re: Savour

                          OMG. Will have to tuck that one away for the next time. Would have been much, much closer! Thanks!

                        2. re: revets2

                          Picture from a friend of polenta with eggs from Della Fattoria two days ago.

                          "Roughing it at harvest creamy polenta eggs at Della fattoria"

                          1. re: revets2

                            Wow, that looks delicious!

                            Della sounds fantastic but unfortunately they don't have any ranch dinners scheduled over our visit. Perhaps on a future trip. I'm very much looking forward to trying Sir and Star + Osteria Stellina though!

                          2. re: revets2


                            We've been to Hog Island before for a DIY barbecue and it's one of our favorite spots in Northern California! I'm going to call on Monday morning to try and secure a picnic table because their website is not showing availability which seems strange for a Tuesday afternoon, and I believe that The Boat bar is closed on Tuesdays.

                            We've been to Bovine as well en route to Mendocino on a roadtrip last year and were really wowed. Their morning buns rival Tartines! I'm sure we'll find the time to stop in at some point next week.

                            As for the drive from Nick's, I'm not worried too much. I enjoy driving along HWY 1 and it's so picturesque and scenic in that area. We're only around for 2 nights and don't have a car in the Bay Area (we use Avis for road trips) so 25-45 mins. here and there for destination worthy places don't scare me. As I've never been to Osteria or Sir and Star, it seems worth the added time. It's not like we're on a tight schedule anyhow! ;)

                            Thanks again for the great tips and feedback!!

                      2. re: OliverB

                        Maybe go to Nick's for drinks at the bar? I'd say oysters but there are lots of reports of bad shucking.

                        They're currently advertising openings for a sous chef, line cook, pastry chef, bartender, and assistant manager, so I'd guess they're shorthanded.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Wow, I'm glad that I cancelled our dinner reservations!

                          We'll play it by ear and check out the diningroom and bar and decide whether we feel it's essential to our stay. We've got one of the premium waterfront cottages ("Big Rock") with a large deck over the bay, so I'd be just as happy ordering room service and enjoying an afternoon cocktail or a brandy or tawny port on the deck in the evening. I would like to try their BBQ'd oysters while we're there though; that's my only requisite!

                    2. re: OliverB

                      The cabins at Manka's are absurdly romantic and you get a great breakfast delivered, same people as Sir and Star. I think you can get dinner in your room as well. Ignore the stuff about dining, they haven't updated the site since the restaurant burned down:


                      Terrapin Creek is a must for the food though it's not fancy. Might be romantic at sunset or after dark, I've only been at lunch.


                      The Marshall Store is fun and unique.

                  2. re: OliverB

                    In fairness, it's been a couple of years since I ate there and the menu looks different now. I remember being glad we ordered oysters as the rest of the meal was not as good as what you can get in most mid-priced places here. I don't think the dining room gets enough turnover for the kitchen to ramp up. I'd keep expectations low and perhaps you will be pleasantly surprised.

                  3. re: rubadubgdub

                    My wife and I were at Nick's a few weeks ago. We sat at the bar and I enjoyed a pair of vodka gimlets. Service was excellent. Alas, the BBQ oysters were marginal at best. Pity, they used to be pretty good.

                    Stellina is ok from a Pt. Reyes perspective. Breakfast/lunch at the Pine Cone Diner in Pt. Reyes Station, cash only, can be very good. I really like the cheeseburgers there.

                    1. re: steve h.

                      Thanks Steve,

                      Why do you find Stellina only "ok" at best?

                      Is it incomparable to similar priced Bay Area restaurants?

                      It seems to get rave reviews on CH and with critics like Bauer. Why did you find it only marginally good?

                      1. re: OliverB

                        Would have to agree with Steve. Good, not earth shattering. One in the best in the area, though.

                  4. The Sir and Star team were great at Manka's. Haven't been yet myself.


                    Terrapin Creek is not fancy but the food is excellent.


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Is it just me or has Manka's not updated their site since the fire?

                      I only ask because they are still showing a "Dining" section with full menu that's very similar in design to that of Sir and Star at The Olema. Have they rebuilt and revamped the kitchen and dining room at Manka's and is it possible they are now serving at two locations? I can't figure how that could be possible, which leaves me to assume that the website is just ridiculously out of date. Am I right?

                      1. re: OliverB

                        And speaking of Manka's, has the lodge itself reopened and can guests still stay in the two main cabins (Manka's and Fisherman Cabins) nearby the property or were those leveled by the fire as well?

                        1. re: OliverB

                          They just haven't updated their site.

                          The cabins on the property didn't burn, only the main lodge, the rooms in the lodge were not as romantic.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Yes, I know it was just the main lodge but I wonder what effect it bears on the surroundings and atmosphere, as it really was the foundation of the property in many ways. I'd like to stay at Manka's Cabin this winter, but not if it feels like we're lodging by a big empty lot.

                            I also can't imagine that their lack of a website update in 6 years reflects well on the level of attention and service you'd find at the property. By the looks of it, the Lodge seems to have taken a back seat to other projects since the fire, which is understandable I suppose. I'm going to try and pass by and have a look at the property if we have time next weekend; perhaps after our kayaking excursion in Drake's Estero. Hopefully we can poke around the site and maybe even peek into a few of the cabins.

                            1. re: OliverB

                              The web site never seemed like it was a priority. It was way out of date before the fire.

                      2. Not sure about Manka's now but stayed in the cabins many times before the fire and would choose it over Nick's no question.
                        I would not eat anything at Nick's. If you want bbq oysters for me the only place is The Marshall Store. Unbelievably good. Just down the road a ways from Nicks. Not fancy but sitting on the deck with their oysters and a glass of wine is just about perfect to me.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: cakebaker

                          Thanks, I've added Marshall Store to the itinerary although between Saltwater, Sir and Star and Hog Island, I think we'll have our oysters covered!

                          Question for all:

                          Has anyone done the $40 Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. farm tour and cheese tasting at The Fork?


                          I'm considering whether or not it's worthwhile. They also offer a $20/person tasting that is described as less focused on their website.


                          PS - I'd like to return in late-November/December for a short overnight stay at Manka's Cabin. If we have time on this trip, I'd like to check out the grounds to see what the property looks like post-fire. Has anyone visited since the tragedy?

                          1. re: OliverB

                            Marshall Store tops them all IMO. Don't be fooled by its humble look. This is a serious oyster's fancy now it used to truly be a shack! All there preps are great but my favorite is their bbq.

                            1. re: cakebaker

                              Better than Hog Island??

                              Darn, now I really want to go but they're closed on Tuesday!

                            2. re: OliverB

                              Any feedback or opinions on the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese tastings?

                            3. re: cakebaker

                              You can't have a glass of wine on the Marshall Store's deck. Their liquor license is off-sale only and they can't get an on-sale license because the restrooms aren't up to code. They have chairs set up on the side of the road just off the property.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Thanks, I see that they do serve beer though.

                                I would love to have lunch at the Marshall Store on Tuesday instead of Hog Island which we've been to numerous times and is a staple and favorite of ours, just to give MS a try, but unfortunately that's the one day that they are closed. I suppose we could always give them a shot on Sunday upon driving in, bu we already have reservations at Saltwater Oyster Depot which I've been wanting to try as well, and that's just a lot of driving in one day. Plus we'll surely get our fill of oysters at Sir and Star that night. Perhaps we'll try to make it on Monday, although between the many activities that we have planned, we may not have time... I don't want to squeeze too much into our itinerary as it's supposed to be a really laid-back and relaxed couple of days, so we'll probably play it by ear and determine whether we can find time to stop in. I'm bummed that they're closed on Tuesday as that really would've been the perfect plan before returning to the city.

                                1. re: OliverB

                                  The Marshall Store sells beer and wine, but they can't let you drink it on the premises since they have only an off-sale license.

                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Yes sorry I wasn't clear. The back deck is their property but you can have wine at the tables adjacent to the building along the water. I've also sat at the picnic tables along the water many's about the oysters here not the ambience. Although again its very rustic either way so it's not a big difference. I think it's worth it. Their clam chowder is great too!