WINTER WEEKEND ESCAPES:
NICK’S COVE, Tomales Bay
Once off the 101, it’s a winding trek via country lanes to Tomales Bay. On the shores of the Bay with its outlet to the Pacific Ocean visible in the distance, sits Nick’s Cove. Nick’s is a settlement built in the 1930′s with cottages and a restaurant on pilings over the Bay. There’s little else nearby; even cabins across the street are part of Nick’s. The cozy little row of cottages and main house reflect a boating, fishing spirit reflecting a history of hard-working folks who built the structures.
I’m a regular traveler, globally and nationally, even having stayed in Tomales Bay before. I can say Nick’s Cove is one of of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed. Upon arrival on a crisp, clear winter’s night, I felt immediately transported to somewhere far, far away… not merely one hour from my home in the city but to quiet, soothing shores.
Nick’s restaurant sits at the edge of a pier lit up by Christmas lights with a quirky Boat Shack perched at its end. In-shack telephones and menus allow you to call up the restaurant for food and drinks, as you lounge under the gaze of a diving mask evoking 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I could linger here for quite some time.
Stepping inside my cottage (I stayed in “Al”), elicited a sigh of delight. The space emits that warm glow of home, but with the comforts of a posh hotel.
From the cozy cabin is a view of the Bay and pier, while knotty, wood walls remind me of my grandpa’s home of over 60 years. Fishing poles, vintage photos, and a comfy, brown leather couch decorate the living room next to a wood-burning stove.
There’s a breakfast and a coffee table and a cabinet hiding a TV (from which I played classic Loretta Lynn, Gene Autry, and George Jones tunes on a traditional country music station ideally suited to the space). A wood hutch is lined with bottles of spirits, like Bulleit Bourbon and vermouth. One could make their own Manhattan or basic cocktail. Nice touch.
Through the tiny living room is a bedroom with inviting, king-sized bed, plump pillows and vintage lamps.
A roomy bathroom is delightfully old school, with clawfoot tub, classic floor tiles that are heated (praise be!), and vintage sink.
Most importantly, from our private deck (visible to neighboring cottage decks), the water’s gentle lapping underneath lulled me into rest.
There’s internet and TV, but you don’t need it.
Here you feel hundreds of miles from stress and pressure, nestled between the hills and blue water of Tomales Bay.
FOOD & DRINK
There aren’t many options on these isolated shores of Highway 1. But thankfully you only need one and it’s literally a few feet from your cabin or cottage. Nick’s Cove restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with drinks and bar bites by the roaring brick fireplace in the bar, or water views from just about every table.
The shocker is that despite the seafaring paraphernalia and all day menus, there’s little kitschy or touristy about the food. In fact, I was surprised to find it damn good, particularly in the case of a brilliant off-menu chef’s special of a seared scallop atop a red rice cake in a curry sauce. A dish like this makes me intrigued to see what else the young, talented executive chef, Austin Perkins, can do.
Meanwhile, there’s a heaping pile of fritto misto ($14): delicately fried calamari and rock cod tossed with sweet potato, fennel and lemon peel. I won’t complain about pumpkin arancini ($12) with maple-cinnamon sour cream to dip those fried squash balls in.
On the non-fried tip, Dungeness Crab Risotto ($21) is generously laden with crabmeat – maybe as much crab as rice. Crispy yams, pancetta and Parmesan cheese dot the mountain o’ crab. Under entrees, fish specials of the day are a key way to go though there’s also wood-roasted ribeye ($29), braised lamb shanks ($23), and rabbit pappardelle ($23).