Nick’s Cove Oyster Bar & Cottages, overlooking Tomales Bay in Marin County, California.
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Enjoy Your Oysters and Your Stay

Beverly Stephen / June 2013

Marshall, California—How can you not fall in love with a hotel that greets you with a tray of local barbecued oysters the minute the valet whisks your car away? That’s the welcoming amenity at Nick’s Cove Oyster Bar & Cottages, overlooking Tomales Bay in Marin County. Tomales Bay is at the heart of the California coastal waters rich with oyster beds with Hog Island Oyster Farm, also in the historic village of Marshall, being the most well known. So no wonder that oysters are the leading men at Nick’s. There’s a raw bar with half a dozen different rotating locally harvested specimens, and in addition to the barbecued oysters, there are grilled oysters “Nick-erfeller” and baked oysters Mornay. Dungeness crab also plays a starring role in crab Louis, crab cakes, and an unctuous crab mac and cheese.

Austin Perkins, who came onboard in 2008 fresh from Cyrus in Healdsburg and was promoted to executive chef in 2011, embraces the land, too, with inventive salads and hearty mains, such as a wood-fired pork chop with rainbow chard and rosemary polenta.

On an inventive list, a standout cocktail is the Marshall Manhattan (see recipe below), made with Breaking and Entering Bourbon, and Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout Syrup—often described as a beer lover’s drink.

It could be tricky to negotiate the hairpin curves on Highway 1 if one explored much of the cocktail and/or wine list, but fortunately it’s possible to bed down right there in one of the 12 funky but luxuriously appointed waterfront cottages.

Nick’s Cove was built in the 1930s and fell into disrepair. In 2007, San Francisco restaurateur Pat Kuleto bought and restored it, reportedly to the tune of $10 million. He then sold it in 2011 to local private investors, who again refreshed it while retaining its quirky charms.

Marshall Manhattan
From Dean Castelli

Spiced stout syrup:

  • 12 ounces Anderson Valley "Barney Flats" oatmeal stout
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice powder
  • zest of 1/4 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Add all ingredients to stainless saucepan; bring to a simmer for 20 minutes; remove from heat; allow to cool; strain.

Assembly:

  • 2 ounces St. George Breaking and Entering Bourbon
  • 3/4 ounce spiced stout syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • spiced or brandied cherries

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice cubes; stir; strain into martini glass. Garnish with cherries.