I've read one too many restaurant reviews written by seasoned food writers and critics that leave me feeling bummed out and like somehow my taste level is not up to par. It feels to me that these veteran food critics have lost their love for food and look only for the tiniest flaws to focus on.
Restaurant reviews tend to make me feel like I do not have the skills to truly appreciate a meal.
But I disagree with them. So, I have come up with a solution – one that is going to become a new series here. As Champagne Bubbles is a predominately positive and happy space, I have decided to call myself a happy food writer and a critic and post reviews of my favorite restaurants and also new ones that I come across in this culinary capitol of the world. I tend to always look for the positive aspects of my dining experiences (I hate leaving feeling like it was a huge waste of time and money). I find that even if the chicken was a tad dry for my taste, or the restaurant name is cliché, there was something, whether it is a kind hostess, or a beautiful setting, or even really cool-looking utensils, in the experience to be happy about. Those are the reasons we keep going back, right?
Of course, if a place is downright horrible, I will be sure to let you know of that as well.
Eating Out: The Tavern at Lark Creek
Any place sprinkled with fairy lights can do little to no wrong in my opinion. Okay, that's not entirely true but it does help to soften my mood and put me at ease almost immediately. The recently re-opened Tavern at Lark Creek (formerly the ritzy Lark Creek Inn) has been on our list of places to try since my parents moved to Marin County. After hearing rave reviews about it from friends, and driving by the sweet pale yellow Victorian style building over and over, we finally gave in and decided to celebrate my parents’ 26 year wedding anniversary in this charming venue.
Upon entering (after we ooh'ed and ahh'ed at the pretty twinkly lights for a while) we were greeted by a very cheerful host (who wouldn't be in this setting? I mean, seriously). He assured me that my secret message regarding my parents anniversary had been received and the server would be made aware of it. We were seated at a lovely little oak round table with four high backed chairs around it. We looked up and saw a huge skylight opening up to beautiful redwood trees. My sister and I joked that it felt a bit like we were in the Cullen's house. I imagine the vibe at this place would be simply spectacular in the rain.
The menu boasts a wide variety of dishes, from a flat iron steak (which my mom ordered and it was heavenly) to vegan crispy quinoa and red potato cakes that I ordered. I'm not usually one to go for the vegan option - I once referred to myself as a carnivore in front of my Peace and Conflict Studies peers in a seminar and was practically shunned - but in this case, surrounded by the trees and twinkling lights...it just felt right! And boy was it ever right. They were deliciously crispy and the bed of butternut squash and kale underneath was really tasty (surprisingly to me - I'm not a huge fan of butternut squash). I felt full and satisfied but not over stuffed which seems to happen all to often when I eat out. My sister ordered the chicken cacciatore and my dad feasted on some day boat scallops with seasonal vegetables. Everything was excellent and not overly touched as is the case in so many new, hip places. The prices were surprisingly decent for dinner time ($18.95 steak, $14.25 quinoa cakes, $15.50 chicken cacciatore and $18.95 scallops). For dessert we each had to sample one of almost everything. Our selections were the chocolate bread pudding - complete with "Happy Anniversary" written in chocolate - super rich and decadent (too rich for my parents but perfect for my tastebuds), an apple galette that melted in my mouth, and blood orange sorbet that my sister is still talking about. I love the fact that they are committed to seasonal farm to table eats and that the vibe was low key, and unpretentious. It's a place that is perfect for a sweet romantic date but at the same time you wouldn't feel bad bringing your sometimes noisy but charming children.
We loved it. Definitely try it.
The Tavern at Lark Creek
234 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA 94939-2099
p.s. I promise to start taking pictures of my meals when we eat out - now that this is a new regularly occurring series on the blog! The above picture was taken by my sister FYI.