Saturday, September 10, 2016

Country roadhouse

IMG 9729
Nicasio, California, September 8, 2016——
WE ENJOY DINING in country roadhouses, and fortunately a few of our friends do as well. John and Susan know of this little pleasure, and after they'd run across rather a surprising place out in west Marin county they got in touch and we made a date.

It was dark by the time we drove into town, if you can call perhaps a dozen buildings a town, and we hadn't been in Nicasio for years. But it didn't seem to have changed. The same handsome white church standing alone on the east end of what must have been intended, a century ago, to be a town commons. The same rambling old commercial building on the north side. Otherwise not much to be seen.

The building houses the Rancho Nicasio Bar and Restaurant, with wood floors, taxidermy on the walls, an old-fashioned bar, and a few tables scattered arouund the room. That's the roadhouse, John clarified: we'd been shown to an adjacent dining room, rather more upscale; and we'd been brought menus that announced this was no ordinary country beef, beer, and bourbon operation.

I began, for example, with these rabbit tortelloni, the rather wonton-like pastry filled with tasty braised rabbit on a plate featuring gobs of Parmesan foam, a slather of pesto foam, a dollop of heirloom tomato foam, and a shingling of bok choi. I'm not a foam kind of guy, but I couldn't deny the flavor here; only the dense pasta itself seemed a little out of kilter.

I went on to the delicious, generous roast chicken, served with mushrooms, potato "confit" (pan-roasted, I'd say), and nicely al dente small zucchini. And the dessert! A chocolate marquise, I'd call it, a chocolate pudding that is very dense and sticky, rich, solid. It was sprinkled with little huckleberries and crumbled curried pistachio: a truly fine dessert. IMG 9731

Best of all, the wine: Bandol, Domaine Tempier La Migoua, 1919198080: Perfectly mature, deeply satisfying. Thanks, John!
•Western Room at Rancho Nicasio, 1 Old Rancheria Road, Nicasio; 415-662-2219

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016
(2015 restaurants)

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