The owners of Manka's become restaurateurs again
The Olema may call itself a roadhouse, but it's one worth taking many roads to reach.
The 1876 hotel and restaurant, taken over by Manka's Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong last summer, has finally opened for regular dinner service Thursdays through Sundays. For those who loved the couple's last restaurant, which burned down in 2006, it's a triumph.
Spare and flush with early-evening light, the dining rooms let guests feel as if they're just a breath removed from the inn's gardens and the hills beyond. DeLong's food is serene and seasonal, yet never predictable.
Leaves from a fat artichoke ($10), poached in a coriander-spiked court bouillon, are used to scoop a walnut-feta dip aromatic with marjoram. The pure flavors of baby turnips, artichokes and cauliflower in a spring-vegetable bouillabaisse ($20) are gently shaded with ginger and anisette.
The chef's deft way of bringing sweetness into a dish is remarkable. Pan-roasted broccolini ($5), so crisp the leaves shatter, is shiny with olive oil, garlic and honey.
A plump roast quail ($20) stuffed with kale and golden raisins is perched next to a tuft of foraged miner's lettuce and land cress, their lemony crunch fresh and bright.
It's a stop-time kind of meal, eaten in the setting it deserves.
Tasting Table's San Francisco editor, Jonathan Kauffman, dined at The Olema Inn on March 24. We spent $59.54 for two, not including wine or tip. The service was solicitous, if overly speedy. Read about Tasting Table's restaurant recommendation policy.