This week, our friends E & G, invited us to lunch at Cavallo Point in Fort Baker in Sausalito.
Located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Cavallo Point recently opened as a luxury lodge (The Lodge at the Golden Gate) and conference center. This location is now part of the Golden Gate National Parks.
The U.S. Army acquired Fort Baker in 1866 to serve as a base to protect the north side of the Golden Gate. It was an active military post through World War II. In 2002, when the army decided that Fort Baker was no longer needed by the military, this site and its buildings was transferred to the Golden Gate National Parks. Since 1973, Fort Baker has been listed as an Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places.
The name Cavallo Point dates to 1775 when a commander of a European sailing vessel named it "Punta de Caballo," as he sailed by. Wild horses once lived here and the Spanish word for horse is caballo
This week's warm clear weather was with us on the day of our visit...oh is this area magnificent, with the Golden Gate Bridge peeking out to the south and maginficent views of downtown San Francisco.
Our lunch was at Murray Circle, Cavallo Point's main restaurant.
The Lodge at the Golden Gate is in what looks to be the only new buildings on Fort Baker. The units look lovely from the outside.
Current room rates are between $250 and $750 a night, for a room for two.
We had high expectations for our meal, having read that the restaurant's executive chef, Joseph Humphrey had been awarded two Michelin stars when he was chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood in the Napa Valley. The dining room is several smaller dining rooms and we were seated in one with just three tables.
I will best describe the ambiance as "rustic elegance."
Having checked the menu online beforehand, I was prepared for a fairly pricey lunch. Both men ordered the Lunch Tasting Menu, four mini-courses served on a single plate, plus a dessert, priced at $23. The only choice they had to make was for the entree, either poached sea bass or a mini beef burger. One chose the bass and the other the mini burger. Also on their plate was a lettuce and anchovy salad, sweet corn Vichyssoise, and "chips & dip," waffle potato chips on a sort of sour cream dip.
Their dessert was chocolate Blackout Cake with malted milk ice cream.
E and I ordered less extravagantly...the Cobb Salad for her and a Poached Shrimp BLT for me. When our enthusiastic waiter took our orders, he asked if we'd like a bowl of soup to start; E ordered the Chilled Sweet Pea Gazpacho.
E's soup was delicious. Her bowl was first presented without the soup with a mound of citrus-fennel shaved ice in the center. A server then poured the pea soup over it.
My sandwich was tasty and was served with the same "chips & dip" that came with the Tasting Lunch. I thought the dip was tasteless and sort of thick..nothing special for sure.
E's Cobb salad was "deconstructed,"
with each component in its own little pile on her plate...it was not very appealing visually and she was disappointed. Looking at my photo of her salad, I think the plate looks empty.
At that point, we felt, the food was just "OK" and quite overpriced. E ordered a cup of coffee which arrived cold...back it went, with our waiter mumbling some words of surprise. She did get hot coffee the second time around.
Then came the bill...we knew what to expect for our meals, but had not paid attention to the price of E's soup. It was $11!!! We thought it had to be a mistake, but our waiter assured us it was not.
As I write this post, I am checking Murray Circle's menu on their web site..it seems that they have raised some of their prices from what is shown on their web menu..hmmm.
So, will we return to Murray Circle? No!
Is the area beautiful? Yes and I'd come back just to enjoy the setting, but not for a meal.
I must mention that in the same building at Murray Circle is Farley Bar, a lovely bar named for now-deceased San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Phil Frank. If I do return to explore the grounds more, I might stop here for a drink; Farley Bar offers a small menu which inlcudes a burger, crab cakes,salads, and sweets. Prices are a bit on the high side but not outrageous.