We just returned from a wet and very windy weekend in the Point Reyes area. On Sunday, the winds were strong enough that it was difficult to walk and we spent most of our day in the car only hopping out between rainstorms. Monday, however, the rain cleared a bit and we spent a bit more time out on the Pt. Reyes peninsula.
Walking into the Drakes’ Beach visitor center, I glanced into the old Drake’s Beach Cafe and noticed that it looked more lively than it had in a long time. Bud vases with flowers adorned the tables and there were quite a few customers enjoying lunch inside while watching the waves from the large picture windows. In past visits, we had used the Drake’s Beach Cafe deck to eat our picnic lunch, but had rarely ever even seen the Cafe open for business.
I noticed menu items that would make any Eat Local participant take notice: Hamburgers made with beef from Lunny Farm being raised by the owner of Drake’s Bay Oysters a mere mile or so from the Cafe, stinging nettles from Star Route Farms in nearby Bolinas, Straus organic milk products, and bread from local favorite Brickmaiden bakery.
The restaurant changed management in November, and is being run by local couple Jane Kennedy and Ben Angulo. Kennedy and Angulo have committed to selling local and organic foods, and often list the actual percentage of ingredients that are local right on a menu item. The menu features varied lunch choices including Tom Ka soup, salad with goat cheese and pine nuts, coconut-marinated prawns, local oysters served baked or raw, and whole Dungeness crab.
We decided on clam chowder ($7), a rice bowl made with brown rice and topped with vegetables and chicken ($8), stinging nettles sauteed with soy sauce, garlic, and chili ($6), and “tea for two” — loose leaf tea served with tea cake, candied ginger, and sliced apples ($8). The clam chowder was clear-broth and was sweet with fresh carrots. The standout item was the stinging nettles which were topped with mushrooms, and were spicy and full of flavor. Jason enjoyed the rice bowl which was filling and healthy.
Props to Cafe owner Joanne LeMieux for taking a chance with this young couple and their wonderful menu ideas — this restaurant is a perfect fit for an area which features an abundance of amazing food producers. Also, the Park Service is to be commended for breaking the mold of corporate-run concession stands featuring generic hamburgers and fries. When visitors come to the Point Reyes National Seashore is a perfect time to introduce them to the joys of eating local foods, and this Cafe is a wonderful beginning.
The Drake’s Beach Cafe is open Friday through Monday, from 10 am to 5 pm. They are planning to begin a dinner service on some evenings, so call to find out any updates on hours.
Drake’s Beach Cafe
1 Drakes Beach Road
Point Reyes National Seashore