Local Goodness with a View
In an area known for great beauty in all directions, West Marin is an exceptionally beautiful destination of the Bay Area. Go over the Golden Gate Bridge, due west and in only about 50 - 60 minutes you’re on the coast. Furthermore, the drive getting there is a feast for the eyes, with the proverbial rolling hills sprinkled with cows, horses and goats. Thanks to the Marin Land Trust, most of the area is protected and unspoiled, with little or no development allowed and only the stingiest amount of land allotted for farming. Intermixed, there are small town centers like Pt. Reyes, home of the local favorite Cowgirl Creamery, the towns of Olema, Bodega Bay - known for the film location of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, and Inverness. The town of Inverness is especially tiny, with only about 3 structures that make up the center. It consists of a post office, a general store/deli, and Saltwater restaurant and oyster depot.
Saltwater is literally across the street from the bay, so when they say fresh oysters, they mean it. It effortlessly combines contemporary minimalism with rustic charm, aesthetically speaking, and while the menu (and prices) winks at high end city fare, the atmosphere is neighborhood-y and comfortable, welcoming both locals and visitors. Chef Jeremy Whitcomb boasts that Saltwater is “rooted in its respect for sustainably managed farmlands, shellfish producing water bottoms and folks that are engaged in the thoughtful gathering of food. It welcomes local foragers, farmers, visitors and neighbors to partake in festive celebrations that honor the efforts of those who grow and gather our food.”
As for the end result, Saltwater maybe has too minimal a menu and presentation. The sea bass entree I ordered was absolutely good, but too small a portion for the price and in need of embellishment of a starch (maybe a puree), in addition to the plentiful and perfectly prepared vegetables. Unless you plan to load up on oysters as appetizers, don’t come with a big appetite or expecting many options. The service was kind, but tepid and distant, with more attention given, understandably, to locals and regulars. Overall, the chef served up perfectly prepared elements that worked individually, but didn’t come together to necessarily entice or wow. Saltwater’s dishes are solidly good, but not doing anything new or exceptional. That having been said, the menu appears to rotate regularly and often, which can affect the dining offerings and experience from week to week. What is a constant is the view out the large and many windows. For many that could be worth the price of admission.