When Saltwater Oyster Depot was a mere glimmer in owner Luc Chamberland’s eye this past spring, he came up with a novel idea. Why not try “crowdfunding,” and let would-be patrons pre-purchase meals to help open his Inverness eatery?
In exchange for their investment, he could buy kitchen equipment to refurbish the former Priscilla's Pizzeria & Café space next to the downtown post office, and investors could score discounts, like getting a $100 restaurant gift certificate for $75.
Success. Since The Depot opened June 19, the crowds have come, presenting what’s often an hour wait since reservations are only for parties of six-plus.
Chamberland raises his own shellfish at his Pickleweed Point Community Shellfish Farm in Tomales, and at his eatery, he showcases Tomales Bay Oyster Company, Drake's Bay Oyster Company, and Hog Island Oyster Company, too. The mollusks star on the brief menu, in briny Tomasini Shoal or creamy, sweet Marconi Cove varieties, but chef Anthony G. Starelli offers a lot more to love on his frequently changing line-up, as well.
Naturally, seafood rules. Try the tuna crudo decorated in hazelnuts, shallot and lemon, another crudo of smoked albacore dressed in arugula and truffle lime vinaigrette, or an entrée of roasted local King salmon on a moist raft of ratatouille. The fish perfectly fits the mood of a fancy seaside shanty, offering 34 seats in the hardwood-floor dining room beneath a skylight-lit barn ceiling, or on a 20-seat patio.
On the meatier side, there’s a hunk of braised pork belly topped with warm poached egg atop lentils and frisée, and pan roasted quail glazed in fig gastrique alongside gooey potato gratin. For lunch, look for more casual nibbles, such as pulled pork or rock cod tacos.
An all-day favorite is Inventively topped pizzas, thin-crust and topped in boutique ingredients like salty-spicy lamb sausage, padron pepper, manchego and picholine. Many a happy afternoon could be spent enjoying a pie, a local beer on tap, or local wines.
Details: Saltwater Oyster Depot, 12781 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness, 415-669-1244, saltwateroysterdepot.com.
Tip: Enjoy the picturesque drive to the coast in a private Pure Luxury limo.
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