Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Velma's birthday weekend

We went to the coast for Velma's birthday last weekend. Velma turned 30 on Friday, so she took a Redwood Day* and we went for a hike in Butano State Park, down the coast near Pescadero.

We had booked our friends' families' beach house (pictured above) for the weekend to celebrate both our birthdays (mine's next week), and invited a handful of friends to join us. The weather on the coast was foggy, but a couple miles inland at Butano it was warm and clear, so we had a nice long walk on Friday and I took a lot of photos.

Velma and I had dinner at Duarte's Tavern (pronounced, for some reason, as "doo-artz") in Pescadero, where Velma had crab's legs and I had red snapper and chips/fries. The fries were rally good and the snapper was not bad, although what I really enjoyed was the half-and-half soup (not on the menu, you have to ask for it). It's half artichoke and half green chili, and it's a stupendous concoction.

We bought some supplies (locally made, natch) at the store across the street (downtown Pescadero consisting of two whole cross-streets) and headed back to the beach house.

The rest of the foggy weekend was spent catching up with friends we don't see very often, talking and joking, relaxing, reading books, taking lots of pictures outdoors, exploring tidepools, watching the surf and quail babies, and doing a somewhat difficult 500-piece puzzle (pictured on the table above) which Velma bought at Muir Woods the week before.

* Save the Redwoods League, where Velma works, gives employees two extra vacation days each year to go out and spend time in the redwoods.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Restaurant review: The Groves

I posted this to Yelp but they don't allow links, some I'm posting it here too.

The Groves

12990 Avenue of the Giants
Myers Flat, CA 95554
5pm to 9pm

Surrounded on all sides by Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Myers Flat is a minuscule town that one wouldn't ordinarily think rates a restaurant as good as The Groves. Yet here it is, right on the Avenue of Giants, just off Highway 101.

We're very familiar with the local fare, as we take brief jaunts to the redwoods once or twice a year from San Francisco. So it's with plenty of local experience that I can say that The Groves is extraordinary. We were in the area for two and a half days, and we went back our second night for dinner because it was so good the first time (and let's face it — there's very little else that compares, locally).

I gave The Groves 4 stars because it didn't disappoint, on two separate occasions. I was skeptical at first when some bread arrived with the menus that was far too sweet and fluffy for dipping in the olive oil it was served with. I was also puzzled by the slightly schizophrenic decor that's certainly nice and upscale enough, but had a few puzzling touches that made me wonder whether I was seeing a bit of the building's original use show through.

The staff was professional and friendly, our food was prepared quickly and served hot, and the water kept flowing. We were offered wine from the associated Riverbend Cellars next door, and we tried a glass each of their 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2003 Merlot.

The halibut was quite good, I've only had better at restaurants right on the coast, and the braised and roasted duck was excellent — very flavorful and not at all gamey. We finished with splendid deserts (mousse and homemade chocolate mint ice cream) served in portions worthy of chocolate lovers.

The following day we had The Groves' hamburger and one of their single-serving wood-fired pizzas. The pizza's size was just right after a day of hiking around in the redwoods, not too small as they often are in many California cuisine establishments. Even with the thin crust (my preference anyway), the meal was filling on a day that I was certainly hungry, and the wood-fired pizza and its adornments were extremely flavorful and the crust extra-crispy, just as I like it. The burger was fresh and excellent too, and the fries were great, no ketchup necessary, which I can't say often of restaurant fries.

For those unfamiliar with the Redwoods Region, Myers Flat is located just off Highway 101, a short drive (~10 miles) north of Garberville (which is about 200 miles north of San Francisco and about 70 miles south of Eureka).

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