Bueno greeted us outside. Apparently he knows just about everyone in these parts, and who can resist that broad grin and wagging tail. He was perched outside the newly refurbished 7-week-old butchery and eatery of Marin Sun Farms, on the edge of Point Reyes Station near Tomales Bay.
Marin Sun Farms is a small, local, family farm--owned by David Evans--that produces 100% all-natural grass-fed beef and organic chickens. Their farm is nestled in the rolling grassy hills of stunning Point Reyes National Seashore (lucky cows and chickens!). They sell their products at the new shop, various retail outlets, farmers' markets, and through many high-end restaurants. (I've been a fan of theirs for quite some time, first discovering them at the SF Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market.)
Two of our closest friends--Trey and Andrew--live up in Inverness on Tomales Bay, just around the corner from Point Reyes Station, and know of all the goings-on about town. So when we mentioned that my parents would be in town, they suggested we try the new Marin Sun Farms eatery for lunch. "But what about Andrew?" (He's a vegetarian. Well, really a "fish"-a-tarian. Trey assures me that there's going to be something on the menu for him. We are all skeptical.)
So there we were, on a gorgeous warm blue-sky day in Point Reyes Station, petting David's dog, Bueno, and admiring (from the outside at least) what David had already done with the place. Formerly a forgettable restaurant hidden by overgrown bushes, the new place was freshly painted, trimmed, and had a cow for a sign.
David greeted us himself at the counter, which displays cuts of beef and doubles as the place to order your meal.
A board above the counter lists the daily specials, and I was surprised to see just how many non-meat offerings there were: eggs with fresh vegetables, roasted halibut, fish and chips, and even a vegan soup. Andrew was happy. The rest of us, being the carnivores that we are, ordered an array of meaty sandwiches both from the specials board and the standard menu.
My dad and I went for the BBQ beef sandwich listed on the specials board: a soft, chewy bun piled high with seasoned pulled beef sauced with tangy, vinegary, slightly sweet BBQ sauce. The meat was intensely flavorful and just melted in your mouth. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it as I write this. Mine was served with a side of some of the best coleslaw I've ever had: light, crunchy, fresh, and with just enough mayonnaise-based sauce to keep it juicy. My dad opted for a side of their freshly made fries, which were also delicious, crisp and hot out of the fryer (although I had wished they were just slightly more golden in color, they still tasted fantastic).
My mom and Wendy gave the farm the true test by ordering the hamburgers. The restaurant offers a 1/3 lb burger (which is what my mom ordered) and a 1/2 lb butcher burger (what Wendy ordered). The burgers were simple, perfectly seasoned, made-to-order, and served with fresh lettuce, red onion, and slices of pink beets. The eatery offers a whole array of condiments at their condiment counter, everything from chipotle mayo to a variety of mustards, to ketchup. Trey went for the Point Reyes Cheese Steak, also listed on the standard menu along with the burgers. It was enormous, served on a long crusty roll and piled high with paper-thin slices of beef, caramelized onions, and melted cheese. Trey appeared to be in meat heaven.
Andrew was perfectly happy with his plate of fresh organic scrambled eggs, whole-grain toast, and sauteed organic broccoli and romano beans.
Stuffed full, we decided to head out to the Point Reyes lighthouse, about 30 minutes away through the grasslands of Point Reyes National Seashore. We'd never been there and managed to show up just in time for their lens tour (inside the old lighthouse, set 307 steps down the cliff). On our way back to Oakland, we passed through Point Reyes Station, and decided to stop and pick up some meat for dinner the next night. Two lbs of ground chuck and a seasonal dried beef-and-pork sausage later, we had David regaling us with the history of the Point Reyes National Seashore and its alphabetized ranches as well as giving us a bit of history of his own farm. It was this moment that reminded me of what I love about living in California, the passion and dedication to local, sustainable foods. We are truly lucky to live here amidst this bounty.
Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop and Restaurant
10905 Shoreline Highway 1
Point Reyes Station, CA
Open Friday thru Monday 10:30am-6:30pm