Sometimes, everything comes together. The stars align — it's a perfect night, you're at a great restaurant, the company is stellar, and all is right with the world.
Sir and Star is the kind of restaurant that can create such sensations. For starters, it's in the middle of nowhere. To be more specific, it's in Olema (population: 55), an old Marin County logging town that was a 19th-Century "raunchy row of cardrooms, saloons and establishments of even lesser repute."
The restaurant itself appears to be housed in one such establishment of lesser repute — the Olema Inn, which has been around since 1876. There are animal heads on the wall, and elaborate candle-arrangement-slash-sculptures to reinforce the point. Point is: the vibe is excellent.
The food holds up its end of the bargain. We hesitate to use the word "rustic" (because what does that really mean?), but it applies here. There are game birds that seem like they might have been shot just hours before, and fish from Bolinas Bay a few miles down the road. We got the impression that a meal at Sir and Star is a lot like what it would be like if a British hunting lodge had hired a really good chef.
They also served mead. This deserves its own paragraph, because we've never really had mead at a restaurant. It tastes like a high-class hybrid of champagne and craft beer, and if that doesn't sound good to you, you haven't had good mead yet. We predict that mead is going to take the dining world by storm: you'll soon be seeing headlines about how mead is a "hot food trend."
And while we don't normally comment on service unless it's insanely good or insanely bad, this night fell firmly in the former category. We showed up about 45 minutes early (there's not a lot to do in town), and were graciously rewarded with snacks, wine, and mead, while whiling away our time in comfortable chairs. It was the perfect pre-meal experience, thanks to some very nice front-of-house staff.
So if you're in the wilderness of Marin, looking for a place to hang your hat, Sir and Star is it. This is one of the great dining experiences in California.
A nice Southern dish to start the meal. The tomatoes were nice, but the greens and corn on the side were even better.
Goddamn do we love squishy bread rolls. And the extra UMAMI burst of seaweed infused butter make them even better. (Did we use that word right?)
We're spoiled for unsmoked squash from now on.
Silly puns usually don't lead to good restaurant dishes. This must be the exception that proves the rule. This duck liver outclassed nearly all the geese liver in the game. We'd never suggest it's a good idea to bring the foie ban back, but if the replacements are this good...
A few too many potatoes for the paltry serving of endives. But some nice tangy (fancy) ranch dressing.
The problem with neck/collar/tail dishes in general is, while they sound cool and "edgy," the fat-to-meat ratio is way too high. This edition did not escape that problem.
Better than Thanksgiving? Definitely, if you don't let familial love cloud your vision.
Ice cream is the best dessert. It's even better with toppings.