Marin Independent Journal

Dining review: Sir and Star keep it local and a tad cheeky

A restaurant named after Marin's curvy "Star Route" One and Sir Francis Drake, the Elizabethan explorer who circumnavigated the globe and whose name is sprinkled across seaward landmarks such as Drake's Bay, firmly anchors itself to rural Marin while casting a glance to the sea. So it is with Sir and Star, the new restaurant at the Olema Inn.

Wearing the tri-cornered hat of owners, managers and chefs, Margaret Gradé and Daniel DeLong, familiar to many Marinites for their tenure in the kitchen at Manka's Inverness Lodge, purchased the inn last year, then set about remaking the space with their signature, resolutely local touch.

"Margaret started buying everything off the back of farmer's trucks more than 20 years ago," DeLong says. "She established the culture of buying direct from farmers." That includes the wines.

Except for champagne — "one of life's essentials," according to the menu — the 40-plus bottle list features only wines fashioned from Marin grapes, such as the McNeil & Sons Redding Ranch Pinot Noir ($82) or Kendric Vineyards Viognier ($63), and wines made in Marin such as the Trek Dry Creek Valley Syrah ($52) or one of the Sean Thackrey Orion Rossi Vineyard Syrahs ($185 for a 2010 or $415 for a 1989). Beers are exclusively from Lagunitas Brewery ($5 to $10).

Marin wines find their way into the savory dishes. Crafted into delicate syrup, Sean Thackrey's Pleiades ($38) makes a cool foil for the faux gras of local duck livers ($12). The metallic tang of North Coast sea salt matches the metallic tang of the butter-enriched organ and it's hard not to agree with the menu; "so delicious it should be illegal."

Gradé and DeLong get playful with a Bolinas duck egg propped atop a bubble and squeak salad ($12). Yes, the bacon's there as well as plenty of black pepper for your egg, but the expected frisée gets replaced by a crunch of cabbage. Same with the Marin-sourced salmon ($12), smoked with Thackrey's discarded oak wine barrels and crowned with sprigs of agretti, a wild marsh succulent discovered in Bolinas by a foraging friend.

The figurines on the hostess stand say it best: "We certainly are enamored with the Farmer Family." Can I get an amen?

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