SF Gate

Sir and Star in Olema is a fantasy in the making

I have an ongoing fantasy about finding a place in the country that serves great food. I’m always on the lookout — there’s lots of disappointment but also some stellar rewards along the way. When you find it, there’s something about the discovery that seems to intensify the senses and makes mood-elevating drugs seem like downers.

The restaurant Manka’s Inverness Lodge was such a place. It was destroyed by fire two days after Christmas in 2006 and it has never been rebuilt.

Owners Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong have continued to run the lodge, but their hyper-local food has only been available to room guests. A few months ago, however, they took over the Olema Inn and, while the hotel rooms are not yet open, Sir and Star restaurant is. It’s the subject of my 3-star review in yesterday’s Chronicle.

While it’s more casual than Manka’s was, it’s still a fantasy in the making. DeLong concentrates on homier dishes such as a Bolinas duck egg draped over a Bubble and Squeak salad of cabbage, potatoes and bacon; stuffed quail with kale and apricots; and Dave’s beef, “cooked around the clock,” like the best pot roast imaginable, served with various accompaniments. His preparations have a rustic edge, but there’s as much style in the food as in the Shaker-like interior.

What is really astounding are the prices: The appetizers are either $10 or $12, and all main courses are $20. In fact, when awarding stars for food, I bounced back and forth between 3 and 3.5 stars. The food is excellent, no question, but only soft-serve ice cream is served at dessert, which supports a 3-star rating. However, the prices are so reasonable for the quality that looking through the lens of price, it’s 3.5. After much debate, price won out over the simple desserts, and I awarded 3.5 for food.

It’s a pleasure to welcome back this duo to the West Marin restaurant scene; I’m already planning my next trip back.

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