The march of progress has reached even the sleepiest of outposts along the rugged, foggy, and often chilly, West coast of Sonoma County, and it’s not a bad thing. Dillon Beach Resort, a privately-owned stretch of beach, complete with camp site, general store, tiny homes/cabins and a restaurant, Coastal Kitchen, has quietly been changing the vibe of this tiny enclave.
North of Marshall, and just a few miles west of the village of Tomales, Dillon Beach has, until now, been an eclectic collection of beach homes and rundown trailers. The new owners of this 50 acre property—a group of families from Marin—have been working hard to update the original inn (where the restaurant is located); and bring together the best of local fare and wares at the general store and in the kitchen.
What drew me to Coastal Kitchen was Monkey, who has just started working there, but what will keep me coming back is the truly excellent food. A short, frequently changing menu (always a great sign), is created by chef, Matt Elias, who, I discovered, has a knack for taking the best of Sonoma County’s excellent produce and making it even better. This is not something many restaurants in the area can claim. What’s more, the value for money was truly astounding. More on that later.
On the evening I visited, the restaurant was completely socked in by fog, but rest assured, there is a great beach view on a good day. The team have done a nice job channeling the feel of a traditional coastal inn… with simple whitewashed walls and black paintwork. I was reminded of the pubs and eateries along the south east coast of England. And I liked the familiarity and nostalgia that brought.
Inside, the decor is beach-y thoughtful, a tad whimsical and light and airy. There’s a surfboard propped against the wall. Fishing-basket light fixtures, and black and white prints of beach frolics from yesteryear.
We started our meal with a seasonal salad of Pink Barn heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, ricotta salata and basil vinaigrette ($12). For the most part, the tomatoes were lovely and ripe and tasted of summer.
I ordered the local halibut (pictured up top), with fresh corn, an amazing cherry tomato relish which was so tangy and sweet and toasty hot green squash, which hit the spot on our chilly evening. The halibut was cooked to perfection with a salty, caramelized crust. And the value for money, at $20, was unbeatable. A dish like this would easily cost $29+ elsewhere.
My companion, a vegetarian, ordered the Summer Vegetable Mediterranean Plate ($17). The roasted eggplant Baba Ghanoush and the slow cooked Romano beans were excellent. My only nit-pick, is why serve this with Indian naan bread instead of pita, but it didn’t spoil anything.
Although we were completely and uttered stuffed to the gills, we could not resist the caramel soft-serve ice cream ($7), and chose the homemade ‘magic’ topping for an extra $1. This was to-die-for. I generally avoid desserts, but honestly, I would come here just for this!
I’m told the clam chowder is the “thing” to get here, so try it for me when you go. And Monkey loves the burger and fries. Overall, it’s so rare to visit a restaurant in Sonoma Co. that has got so much right. As a diner next to us said, “I used to work in San Francisco, and eat there all the time. This is just as good as anything the city has to offer.” He’s right.
Coastal Kitchen offers a simple, superbly executed menu, in a great location, with calming interior design that doesn’t overwhelm the experience. It’s really all you could ask for.
Reservations for Dillon Beach Resort Coastal Kitchen can be made via Resy here.