Dining Outside at Nick’s Cove

A splendid rendition of a Louie salad at Nick's Cove.
A splendid rendition of a Louie salad at Nick’s Cove.

On a clear day along the shimmering blue waters of Tomales Bay, nothing makes you appreciate even more how lucky you are to live in this region than an al fresco lunch at Nick’s Cove in Marshall.

If it’s been a while — or if you’ve never visited — now’s the perfect time to spend some time at this 92-year-old coastal landmark. Not only have its charming cottages been newly refurbished, but celebrated San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino was brought in to refresh the menu.

On a recent trek along the coast, my husband and I took a seat outside on a weekday, after placing our orders at the bar and receiving a pager. When your order is ready, the pager vibrates, signaling it’s time to pick up your tray.

The entrance to Nick's Cove.
The entrance to Nick’s Cove.
The view.
The view.

We indulged in a half dozen Nick’s BBQ’D oysters ($25), which arrived on a hot cast-iron pan, tasting sweet, smoky, and plenty garlicky.

Fried Monterey calamari ($15) comes with lemon aioli for dunking. The calamari were tender, though some of the breading had fallen off. Big red pickled peppers added a zingy sweet accent.

BBQ'D oysters.
BBQ’D oysters.

“Fries with Eyes” ($10) have to be one of the greatest names for fried smelt. The tiny fish, which you eat whole, are finished with crisp parsley leaves and tartar sauce. They are addictive.

Fried calamari.
Fried calamari.
"Fries with Eyes.''
“Fries with Eyes.”

We also shared the Nick’s Cove Louis ($19) with added bay shrimp ($6). It’s a beautiful and bountiful salad of crisp Little Gem leaves, green beans, yellow wax beans, radishes, tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, avocado, and a soft-boiled egg with oozy yolk, not to mention a generous amount of shrimp. Dill leaves plus a creamy Louis dressing brought everything together.

For dessert, treat yourself to a freshly baked taiyaki fish cone propped up in its own glass fish bowl and filled with soft serve ($12). It’s sizeable, even prompting one nearby diner to come by our table to inquire just what it was.

The statement-making soft serve-filled taiyaki cone.
The statement-making soft serve-filled taiyaki cone.

The cone tastes like a sweet breakfast waffle. It’s very crisp on the outside, bready and tender within. On a day with the sun beating down, it can get messy to eat as the soft serve starts to melt. Just use a spoon to catch it all — and enjoy every indulgent moment to the fullest.

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  • I don’t even know where to begin to comment on this, Carolyn. Everything just looks so SO good! I’m sure I could make a meal on those smelt alone (insert unseemly mental image of Carroll drooling)

  • Hi Carroll: It’s the perfect place to play hooky for an afternoon on a beautiful day. And you deserve it! We all do. LOL

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