Since the service was all the way out in Marin, and we were moments away from the Buckeye, we headed out for a lunch together. A little group food therapy. There is something uniquely comforting about the ritual of eating after a funeral. It seems to somehow be the life-affirming act most of us gravitate to immediately after that final goodbye. Like awaking from a bad dream, it brings living back home to the people affected by trauma in a very tangible way. It tells us we are still alive. It allows us to get back to the business of living.
Since our Partner in Food Crimes lives in Sausalito, he called ahead and got us a booth in the bar, and fetched his lovely wife and son to join us. Eating in the bar is generally his preferred way to best enjoy the atmosphere of most places where that is an option and the Buckeye was no exception. Our waiter seated us promptly and we wasted no time ordering a round of drinks. A toast seemed appropriate.
I ordered a Sazerac — a strong drink for a special occasion. They make them with Old Overholt at the Buckeye. Old Overholt, Peychaud’s bitters — a nice wash of Lucid Absinthe caressing the inside of the glass to enhance the flavors of the whiskey with a hint of licorice. I first heard of the Sazerac when visiting New Orleans. It’s a southern drink, and it makes me think of warm balmy days along the Mississippi. It was a welcome pick-me-up on that particularly damp and gloomy Tuesday.
My BH had the Purple Rain, one of the house specialty cocktails. This one is a delightful concoction of Lemon-infused vodka with white cranberry and lime juices. Topped off with a dash of Creme de Violette and an orange twist, it is a deliciously subtle drink, sweet with a hint of lavender, the mild savory floral floating nicely around in the lemony vodka. We all raised our glasses to our fallen comrade. Sláinte. L’chaim. Cheers.
Our appetizers came just after our drinks. The first was a Salmon Tartare which was lovely. The salmon was tobiko, it’s meat mingled with leeks, a dash of wasabi cream on top and accompanied with these delightful fried wonton chips. The dish was light and airy, the fatty smooth texture of the salmon meat cut subtly by the heat of the wasabi — the crunch of the chip a perfect compliment to the soft give of the salmon. The dish was a well-balanced mouthful of food, in both its flavor and its textures.
The next offering we sampled was the Buckeye’s Dungeness Crab Cake. I found this version of the dish held together nicely — without the overabundance of binding agents that can often be the downfall of a good crab cake. The crunchy fried outside gave way to a moist and tender inside, the crab meat maintaining it’s hold on the overall balance of flavor. If a crab cake has too much binding agent, the subtle flavor of the seafood can get lost. But these were a lovely shape and texture with the filling seasoned well. The briny, the savory and a nice hint of salty, all blending together. The addition of a side of chipotle aioli gave a spicy hot kick for those who chose to add it to the mouthful. I certainly enjoyed it. The refreshing addition of a sampling of amarinthe frisee in the bowl added a variation to the crunch. The crab patties had a crispy texture, the frisee lent an herbal crunch. Nice balanced combination overall of crunch, salt, savory and heat all working together to balance out the dish.
As we raised our glasses again to our old friend, we sampled the Oysters Bingo. This dish is one that has been on the Buckeye menu “forever.” It is a dish people come there to repeat. There is a tendency these days to serve fresh and to change up the menu daily. While it is a wonderful new tradition, there is a lot to be said for the comfort of an understood favorite. A dish we can go to time and time again knowing it will always be consistently good, consistently what is expected. Consistently delicious. These dishes can carry us back to specific memories of family and friends, as our senses reprise those moments in flavor. This is such a dish for the Buckeye. It is also one of those dishes that consistent word of mouth has morphed into an almost legendary status. A dish that newcomers always measure against the stories. I found it surpassed its introduction. Perhaps because they tasted a great deal like my grandmother’s famous grilled cheese-topped hors d’oeuvres. Or perhaps just because they were good. Either way, childhood memories flooded back with every delicious bite. Food as much-needed comfort.
The dish itself consists of oysters still in their shells, topped with a broiled cheese mixture. We ordered two full platters of these lovely dairy-bathed crustaceons and ate them all. Take that you chefs who scoff at the wisdom of mixing seafood and cheese!
For dessert, our PFC’s lovely wife ordered a simple sundae. The other three of us shared a gorgeous Coconut Cake over a delectable caramel sauce, and a version of pineapple upside down cake on a cornmeal-cake base, topped with vanilla bean ice cream. Perfection.
I say check it out, and Bon Appetit.
15 Shoreline Highway
Mill Valley, CA 94941-3608
Dining time: leisurely
Table size: spacious
Noise level: TWO BELLS (not much problem hearing, and it was a bar. Well cushioned sound)
I adore your blog. I too was recently at a memorial and it was strange how your blog captured the same feeling. It never fails to amaze me how those of us who still walk this earth have such similar feelings. I luv the blog, luv'd the perceptual descriptions that were familiar to me and quite comforting. You are a talented writer and I want to continue reading more of your blog. Shall subscribe - I can never find the right button to these things!ReplyDelete
Hugs to you,
You are so kind to say such complimentary things! I try. I wanted to bring a different voice to the conversation. Focusing on the experiences of eating, the memories, the traditions, the familial... with all the fantastic yummies as a delightful "afterthought" ~ like dessert!ReplyDelete