Author: Julie Fadda
February, 2012 Issue
14415 Coast Hwy. 1
Dinner Wed.-Sun.; Sunday brunch
Entrées (dinner): $14-$36
Full bar, good wine list
Opened in 2006, Rocker Oysterfellers is a hit with both locals and travelers. And with good reason: co-owners Brandon Gunther (chef) and Shona Campbell also own the Valley Ford Hotel where the restaurant is located. Billing itself as a kitchen and saloon, the place does an excellent job of offering fresh, local food—and then adding Southern flair. Gunther and Campbell also own the historic Dairyman’s Bank next door, which houses their catering offices and is a private event venue.
The space has a farmhouse style and feel with wooden tables, ceiling fans and saloon doors that separate the lively bar and cozy dining room. We started with a mai tai (complete with tiki glass) and a “Michelle’s honey bee”—vodka based with local honey and a lavender-sugar rim. Then, of course, it was on to the Tomales Bay oysters, which are offered four different ways. The raw ones come with a perfect lemon/honey/jalapeño mignonette. All the others are cooked. The “Louisiana Hots” have (you guessed it) a kick of hot sauce; the garlic butter ones are rich in flavor; and the “Rocker Oysterfellers” are the true standouts, with arugula, bacon, cream cheese and a cornbread crust (great addition of texture). A hint of Pernod lingers at the finish. That’s right, they rock. Show up on a Thursday night and get them at a fraction of their regular price. Check the website for other regular specials and occasional live music.
Hot, fresh jalapeño corn biscuits are served with your meal and aren’t to be missed. A salad special had little gem lettuce with grapefruit, avocado, toasted seeds, pomegranate seeds and ricotta. The Dungeness crab and artichoke cakes were lovely with toasted capers and pine nuts, fresh watercress and a fantastic remoulade sauce. A cup of gumbo was hot, spicy and chunky with lots of okra, crab, shrimp and rice.
A lush glass of L. Preston (Preston of Dry Creek) had a fruity nose with caramel, spice and dark fruit, while the “lightening bug” cocktail had vodka, absinthe and flaming orange zest (smooth).
The “flash-fried” Dungeness crab special was spiced with a Creole rub (it’s par boiled in spices, then when ordered, it’s dusted in more spice and quickly deep fried), incredibly tender and delicious. It came with fingerling potatoes and toasted bread. The fried chicken (a popular menu item) had old-style, perfectly cooked pieces (three) served with buttery “smashed potatoes” and unique, herbaceous Lagunitas ale and caraway gravy.
Dessert was chocolate caramel nut torte topped with a pile of pecan and macadamia nuts and surrounded with thin-sliced, bruléed bananas and plenty of caramel sauce, all sprinkled with sea salt. We also tried the “Southern Pecan” drink—think cold toddy, with a whiskey backbone and a sweet finish to a great meal.
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