The Spinnaker

meter-good+The Spinnaker is an odd place. It’s equal parts scenic lookout, seafood restaurant, seedy lounge, and blue-hair hangout. It’s dated, charming, hideous, and beautiful all at the same time. My brain was confused by what it experienced when I visited The Spinnaker, so I just went with it and tried to keep an open mind.

” There were more electric scooters than a bumper car factory “

The Spinnaker is located right in the middle of Sausalito, a painfully charming bay-side town just north of the Golden Gate bridge. Driving into the heart of Sausalito on a weekend is an exercise in patience. The roadway is quite literally packed with tourists on bicycles that are too busy gawking at the sunny weather to realize you are about to run them over. I’m all for sharing the road, but I wish these people would choose to share back.

This is an example of a sign that bicycle tourists ignore.

This is an example of a sign that bicycle tourists ignore.

After a painful but scenic crawl along the length of downtown Sausalito, I finally managed to shoehorn the car into the very last parking spot in town. My lunch party and I started strolling towards The Spinnaker, debating what sorts of appetizers we should order. Arriving inside the restaurant is a bit like stepping back in time to 1982. Everything you see is dated and drab, including many of the other patrons. I don’t mean to be unkind, but there were more electric scooters than a bumper car factory.

Just as I was getting ready to make my mind up that I didn’t like The Spinnaker, the brisk and attentive host greeted us, added our names to the waiting list, and showed us to the cocktail lounge where we could wait for our table in comfort. Hmm, well, I guess they seem nice here. Within moments someone else stopped by to get our drink orders and see if we wanted to get started with an appetizer. She was helpful, competent, and within minutes we had a table full of wonderful-looking beverages in front of us.

Everyone likes a froofy drink.

Everyone likes a froofy drink.

And just like that, we were whisked away from the cocktail lounge to our lunch table. Our appetizers arrived at our new location with seamless perfection, and our new waitperson was ready and waiting to answer any questions we might have about the lunch menu. We didn’t care about any of that though, because we were simply stunned by the view. Wow.

That view.

That view.

Most of the dining area at The Spinnaker is situated on a pier directly over the water, providing amazing 270-degree views of the San Francisco Bay. Boats literally sail around you while you gawk in stupefied amazement.

Well, hello little shrimp. Join me for lunch?

Well, hello little shrimp. Join me for lunch?

We eventually snapped out of our scenery-induced haze and remembered that our appetizer was still sitting there, waiting for us. I usually don’t get all that excited about shrimp cocktail, but this restaurant’s version was very good indeed. Each shrimp was the size of a Mack truck, and the scratch-made cocktail sauce was spicy and flavorful.

Louie sure does make a good salad. Whoever he is.

Louie sure does make a good salad. Whoever he is.

Before long our lunch orders arrived, and the quality of the food continued to impress me. First up was Shrimp Louie, a San Francisco classic. Everything was fresh and delicious, and the bay shrimp weren’t the least bit fishy. As with the cocktail sauce from our appetizer, the dressing on the Shrimp Louie was the star of the show. Whoever is in charge of the sauces at this place is doing an amazing job.

Enough with green things. Let's get to the fried stuff.

Enough with green things. Let’s get to the fried stuff.

Continuing with the all-shrimp theme of the meal, I opted for an order of tiger prawns and chips. The batter on the shrimp was fantastic, and the shoestring fries/chips were light and wonderful. The remoulade and ranch sauces featured in the center of the plate were – you guessed it – absolutely top notch. I would certainly order this dish again, I loved it.

We sat and contemplated the view while we finished our shrimp-filled lunch, and we all agreed that we enjoyed our experience at The Spinnaker. First impressions were not all that good; this place is sorely overdue for an interior renovation. This was quickly forgotten, however, thanks to the excellent staff, incredible views, and high quality cuisine. I give this restaurant 4 out of 5 little cups of delicious sauces, a solid rating worthy of a revisit. The next time I’m in Sausalito, I will… Ok, honestly I will be going back to Napa Valley Burger Company. The next visit or three after that, though, I’ll be going back to The Spinnaker. On a bicycle. In the middle of the road.

The Spinnaker
100 Spinnaker Drive
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 332-1500
www.thespinnaker.com

Spinnaker on Urbanspoon


All the comforts of being on a boat without the sea sickness.

All the comforts of being on a boat without the sea sickness.


Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.


Napa Valley Burger Company

meter-great-haThis is a story about pickle fries. Other things happen in this story, but none of them are as noteworthy as the pickle fries. There is a restaurant, a town, some weather, a couple of dogs, and even some other remarkable food, but all of these things revolve around that one, single most important dish: Those dreamy, crispy, pickle fries. Holy smoley. Before I spend too much more time worshiping those fries, I should probably take a step back and explain how it was that I had the opportunity to eat them.

” The pickle fries did eventually run out, and that made us sad “

It was a ridiculously glorious day in Sausalito, one of those days that are so excruciatingly perfect that you can’t help but to post a picture of the cloudless blue sky on Facebook and say “neener neener” to all of the unfortunate people who don’t live in California. My wife Shawn, fellow dog wrangler and honorary food blog enabler, and I were strolling the streets of Sausalito, enjoying the 75 degree weather and looking for a place to eat. We passed a couple of somewhat promising establishments, but then we spotted the Napa Valley Burger Company. One glance at the menu and we knew this was the place to eat.

Everyone who walks by this place says to themselves, 'Damn, I should have eaten here.'

Everyone who walks by this place says to themselves, ‘Damn, I should have eaten here.’

The limited outdoor seating was completely full, but we got lucky and nabbed a table within about five minutes. We were basically sitting right in the middle of a crowded Sausalito sidewalk, but it made for good people watching and kept our two fluffy little dogs occupied as well. Our attentive waitperson stopped by immediately to take our drink orders and fawn over the dogs, much to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

We were all settled in a few minutes later with drinks and a bowl water for the pups. We ordered some pickle fries, a Stinson Beach BBQ Burger, and a Yountville Burger, our waitperson nodding with approval as she scribbled on her notepad. “That’s the three most popular items on the menu, in order” she said. “The pickle fries are my favorite.”

Oh. My. GAWDUH.

Oh. My. GAWDUH.

In just a few minutes the pickle fries arrived. It had been bothering me to this point that they were called “pickle fries” instead of the obviously much more grammatically accurate “fried pickles”, because that’s what they are. Pickles that are fried. Right? When I saw them in person, though, I understood the subtle genius of it all. They are fries that have pickles in them. Thin, julienne strips of pickle are thickly coated in the most wonderful cornmeal batter concoction and fried to crispy, crunchy, salty perfection. Heaven. If you don’t like fried pickles, these still might not change your mind all that much, but if you enjoy this sort of thing you will be stunned at how good they are. At this point Shawn said, “You know you have to rate this place 10-out-of-10 no matter what else happens, right?” That’s certainly the direction we’re trending here, no doubt about it.

There was a giant wafer of fried cheese stuck in the top of my burger as a garnish. Epic win.

There was a giant wafer of fried cheese stuck in the top of my burger as a garnish. Epic win.

Next up the burgers arrived, and we were not disappointed. They were piled high, cooked just so, and were absolutely amazing. The applewood bacon on my burger was thick, layered, and deliciously smoky underneath a blanket of garlic aioli and oozy, melted Gruyere. The accompanying burger across the table (from which I stole many bites) was equally superb; the stars of that particular show being the crispy onion ring and generously applied bourbon barbecue sauce. Accompanying each of the burgers were artsy-looking side salads, the kind I am usually not impressed with. Just to be thorough, I went ahead and ate some of mine… and it was excellent! I don’t know what they put in the dressing – I guess perhaps heroin – but it was just hands-down plain old delicious. I can’t believe this place, even the stupid salads are awesome.

This has to be one of the top ten burgers in the Bay Area.

This has to be one of the top ten burgers in the Bay Area.

As incredible as the burgers were, however, we found ourselves constantly going back to the basket of pickle fries, desperately scraping the bottom of the container that once held heavenly dill ranch dipping sauce. We boxed up the leftover halves of our burgers and sat in contentment a while, enjoying the warm sun and jealous stares of passers by. Our only dislike of the entire meal was that the pickle fries did eventually run out, and that made us sad. We paid our bill, left a healthy 25% tip for the top notch service we received, and walked away as extremely satisfied customers. I am always reluctant to hand out perfect ratings, but I’ll still give Napa Valley Burger Company 199 out of 200 delicious, delicious pickle fries. We’ll be back soon. Oh yes, we will.

Napa Valley Burger Company
670 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 332-1454
www.napavalleyburgercompany.com

Napa Valley Burger Company on Urbanspoon


I can has?

I can has?


Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.