Wednesday, April 8th, 2009
Eight oysters. One quail. Two slices of polenta and pea shoot salad: Lunch accomplished. Check, please.
“You did save room for some homemade raspberry pie?” asks Rocker Oysterfeller’s Shona Campbell as I head out the door. Except it sounds more like “paahh” when she says it. And she’s not really asking. I’m leaving with that last piece of pie she made from a neighbor’s berries–regardless.
Ah, southern charm.
But it’s not the pie that I’ve driven out of my way for. It’s the oysters. Midway between Petaluma and Bodega Bay, Valley Ford is a blip on map that’s suddenly been rediscovered. Bikers and day-trippers converge here for water, snacks, and on summer weekends barbequed oysters in front of the Valley Ford Hotel, where Campbell and her cooking partner, Brandon Guenther, have set up their country charm-meets urban chic restaurant, saloon and roadhouse.
Back to the oysters. Plucked from the nearby Drake’s Bay, they’re huge and juicy, best served raw with a little lemon-honey-jalapeno mignonette. Or with arugula, bacon, cream cheese and a cornbread crust (the Rocker Oysterfeller). Or with garlic butter.
Rocker’s isn’t just an oyster shack, however. The couple have a long-history of cooking in the Bay Area and bring some serious grit-kicking southern flavors to the table. Their dinner menu includes Sonoma County lamb with toasted grits, molasses-bourbon braised pork shoulder, a Creole Caesar salad with cornbread croutons, Dungeness crab balls with remoulade and killer sides like mac n’ cheese, Kennebec fries and goat cheese grits.
The new brunch menu goes from biscuits and sausage gravy to a Southern Benedict (poached egg, ham, roasted tomato, braised chard, blackeyed peas, Hollandaise and a buttermilk biscuit) and the dainty bacon-wrapped quail with a (oh my god, so good) pea shoot salad and warm polenta toasts topped with melted Bellwether Farms Crescenza cheese.
Just don’t forget to save room for some pie. Or, you know, whatever the kids at Rocker’s have dreamed up today.
If you go: Local isn’t just a buzzword here. The menu pulls from local farms and ranches (and you know, neighbor’s garden patches). The freshness shows. Don’t miss sitting out on the large patio on warm afternoons. The saloon gets buzzing in the evening, and the spot pulls lots of locals.
Rocker Oysterfeller’s: 14415 Highway One, Valley Ford, 707.876.1983. Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5pm to 9:30pm. Brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2pm. Rocker Oysterfeller’s website
RELATED: The Rocker Oysterfeller’s crew have also opened a grab-n-go eatery and fish market featuring locally caught seafood called Sonoma Coast Fish Bank