If you have ever driven California Rt 128 from Hwy 101 to US 1 you have had a varied view of Northern California compressed in about 55 miles. There are foot hills of two coastal ranges, with hills, hairpin curves and beautiful valleys. Hills laiden with grape vines and the accompanying winery's, small rivers and streams, small to tiny towns, food of various ethnic origins(mostly Mexican) and several Redwood groves. I though of all this as we made our way from Santa Rosa to Mendocino.
Last week we were on a 6 day jaunt to visit our two California families, one in Mendocino/Ft. Bragg and the other in LA, but that another story.
Monday we had flown from Dayton, OH to San Francisco. We drove to Dayton, took a 30 minute, or less, flight and endured a 3 hr and 40 minute wait at the Cincinnati Airport to save about $500. You decide if it's worth it? We rented a car at SFO and proceeded to Rhonert Park, California, just south of Santa Rosa. We stayed at an excellent Hampton Inn and ate dinner around 9 P.M., local time, at a very good "Red Lobster". Both Marilyn and I were surprised at the ambiance, service and quality of the food. Of course, it's a chain but can easily hold it's own with "Bonefish" and others of that ilk. I had Salmon, done perfectly, while Marilyn had her usual Tilapia. My Salmon had an interesting fresh pineapple and sweet spicy sauce, served on the side. It was a good meal and a pleasant way to end an arduous trip.
Tuesday, after driving Rt 128, we met our son for lunch at the "Mendocino Cafe" 10451 Lansing St. Mendocino, CA. The cafe is "California Coast Down Home", at least in my lexicon. Walking in we had seen a plate of Caesar Salad, topped with a sizable crab cake. Raven, our son, and I decided to split that and a very unhealthy, wonderful grilled sausage with grilled red and yellow peppers and onions. That afternoon we were forced to sunbath and think of the snow and ice storm in the Midwest.
Dinner was at "Nit's Cafe", Main St. Ft Bragg CA . CASH ONLY. Nit is an Asian women who turns out exquisite cuisine from a closet sized kitchen, where she does everything. The cafe seats about 25. The meal was marvelous. I choose a seafood platter, sauteed, there is no deep frier. My plate came loaded with perfectly cooked and seasoned Petrolie Soul, Shrimp and Cali maria all on a bed of crisp oven baked "Yukon Gold" potato chunks. Along with this on the plate was a good sized mound of spicy Asian Slaw. What a meal in Ft. Bragg CA or anywhere.
Our Motel, in Ft. Bragg is located on a bluff overlooking Noyo Harbor. After shopping, the next morning at our daughter-in-law's upscale stationary and art store, "Racines" we rolled down the hill for lunch at "Charter and Moon" 32150 N. Harbor Drive, don't ask me what the name stand for? ""Charter & Moon" is a cleaned up waterfront shack where the husband runs the front of the house, as the host and also the single server, and his wife the kitchen, as the single cook. Don't let the place fool you, I had one of the finish salads, Waldorf with greens, pears instead of apples, candied pecans, white raisins and covered, several inches deep, with fresh Pacific Crab. Outstanding! Another interesting item is that this salad was served in a multi paneled, wooden salad bowel the size that we use to "toss" salad for 6 or 8 people. Don't panic, the portion did not fill the bowel. The chef had carved a large rose from Celeriac to decorate the whole thing.
After an afternoon spent with our Granddaughters, including a trip to the "Glass Beach" we decided to meet at their favorite Thai restaurant. We did at 6:15 and found that we were a day early as they are now only open on the weekend. Not daunted we took off for "V'Canto" 124 Laurel St, Ft Bragg CA 707-964-6844. This is a small town Italian Restaurant with full bar service. The food is good, all cooked to order by a Hispanic kitchen staff and served promptly. I shared a large salad and followed with a bowel of Fettuccine, Scampi and Pesto. "V'Canto" is not outstanding but certainly better than adequate. I had been spoiled by the days lunch and previous nights dinner. The wine list is all California but I choose the closest to Italian I could find. The server volunteered a taste, at least a third of a glass, and I followed with a whole. I was duty bound. The pours are large as are the servings and dinner ran about $25 each including tip and tax
The next morning the four adults, at least age wise, had brunch at the "Rt. 1 Cafe". It is in a "Travel Lodge", but don't be fooled, the food is all organic and cooked to order. I had wonderful "Heuavous Rancheros", fitting for a morning departure from the California North Coast.