Recently my wife and I took the drive out to Nick’s Cove , Culinary entrepreneur Pat Kuleto’s new and revitalized restaurant on the bucolic Tomales Bay. Our 12-year-old was away at sailing camp so we jumped at the opportunity to stay out late and not have to worry about getting back for the babysitter. A trip anywhere near Point Reyes has always been a great stress reliever for us. Mix in a dash of cuisine at the restaurant of the moment and you’ve got a recipe for paradise.
Just a 15-minute drive north of Point Reyes Station in the small fishing community of Marshall, Nick’s Cove is perched strategically at the water’s edge of the bay. The first thing we notice as we walk in is the full set of plate-glass windows facing west to the bay and the distant ridgeline of the Point Reyes National Seashore. The décor has a thrift shop feel with wall mounted deer and antelope heads, a handcrafted wood bar and kitschy historical paintings on sawed logs. The place feels local, as we were about to discover in the menu.
Our attractive hostess, Susan Rockrise leads us to our table and we engage her briefly in her feelings about her job and life here. “I have a great job now. There was a time when I lived the corporate life,” she explains as she hands us our menus. Susan used to be the creative director in charge of branding at Intel in Santa Clara. “Now life is about breathing, reading, relaxing and being spontaneous.” She made the leap. “How did you ever get here,” I ask. “I was just driving through and my car broke down. I decided to stay,” she answers. It seems like fate that she be here. Before she has to rush off, Susan recommends the Hog Island oysters that are harvested off shore. “Nice view of the bay from here,” I say to my wife. I realize there is a not a more romantic spot right now, than right here with her. “Let’s eat,” I say. I take advantage of the place and the moment. I order a dozen Kumamotos and the Bodega Bay Dungeness Crab Cake to share and the Seared Bolinas Halibut for me. My wife orders the Oak Grilled Local Double Cut Pork Chop with Yellow Peach Chutney. These dishes are not particularly pricey. Entrees range from $12 to $35. We order a 2004 Pinot Noir from the Kuleto Estate Family Vineyards. The meal is fresh and delicious.
Pat Kuleto, with the design of this establishment, has taken full advantage of the view and the local offerings. And why shouldn’t he, Eden is so close at hand. I couldn’t help thinking of the adage from the film, Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.” This place is not so easy to get to. It requires effort to arrive here. In Susan Rockrise’s case, it was a little kismet. I ask my wife if she’d like a dessert. “Sure,” she says, “let’s have the bittersweet chocolate cake with our coffee.” “Let’s stay a while,” I say.
This is the first in a series of visual narratives about Bay Area women and the places they work. A larger version of this drawing by Bill Russell appears here .