After over a year of setbacks, Kim Alter and company got the doors open at Plate Shop in Sausalito in February. Alter brings some rare chops to the neighborhood. She's worked at Gary Danko, Ubuntu, as executive sous chef at Aqua and calls David Kinch of Manresa and Suzette Gresham of Acquerello two of her biggest mentors. With multiple vegetable beds planted on site, a nose-to-tail butchery ethos in place, and a relatively minimalist interior filled with bare light bulbs and table tops, Plate Shop has certainly given Sausalito something to talk about. But will a city that would happily welcome its umpteenth Cal-Italian restaurant take to the newcomer's "edgy" city ways?
The Welcome To Sausalito News: Marin Scope News says, "I appreciate this young team that’s trying so hard to feature food unlike anything else in Marin County...[Chef Alter's] willingness to be inventive in a county where people tend to adopt one restaurant and eat the same thing there on every visit, that knocks my socks off." The Marin IJ raves, Plate Shop "brings a level of culinary expertise and adventure that is sure to elevate it beyond neighborhood favorite to destination restaurant." But a commenter on Grubstreet tells a different story: "the menu is very limited and a bit pretentious, what with all a lot of fancy words nobody around here appears to be familiar with (we overheard the waiter explaining the terminology to the equally baffled guests around us).[sic]" [Marin Scope, Marin IJ, Grubstreet]
The Service News: Marin Scope warns, "service is good, though many of the young staff are still learning the ropes." But Bunrab praises, "the staff was knowledgeable, friendly and superhumanly patient with the stampede of customers storming through their newly opened doors." Tay M./Yelp calls the service "first rate," and continues, "the staff was enthusiastic and involved. Our waiter was fantastic, and did a great job of answering our questions, even when things got busy." [Marin Scope, Bunrab, Yelp]
The Smoked Uni Risotto News: Marin Scope informs, "Alter partially smokes the rice before cooking it, and adds a bit of smoked salt as well, so the moist, chewy grains smack of the North Woods. Sea beans, a stalk-like seaweed, bristle out of the creamy concoction, which is topped with nuggets of impeccably fresh, bright orange sea urchin custard." The Marin IJ adds, "three of the creamiest sea urchins I've ever tasted were nestled into a glassy rice mixture and melted in my mouth. The careful attention to every ingredient was apparent; it tasted like the sea." And Bunrab, cheekily: "this roe to rice dish was a perfect balance of smoke and sea." [Marin Scope, Marin IJ, Bunrab]
The Price-To-Portion News: Courtney M. of Yelp complains, "after an appetizer, an entree, dessert and wine, I wasn't full. The portions were too small, especially given the high price tag." Christine E./Yelp laments on her soup, "4 ounces for $11 [is] a little steep." Jon S./Yelp shares a similar story about the vegetable entree, which was "priced at $20 and was Kale focused. Even after opting for the egg (+ $3) it was a VERY light meal with little (read NO) substance." However Allison G./Yelp explains, "on my second visit it seemed that they had increased portions quite substantially on the entrees." [Yelp]
The Ambiance News: Marin Scope says, "other than Poggio, also in Sausalito, there are few restaurants in Marin with style sophisticated or edgy enough to give the illusion of urban dining. Plate Shop looks sharp." Tay M. of Yelp thinks it's "warm and inviting," with a "rustic yet edgy interior" and a "perfectly conceived" communal table. Tay M. continues: the "music was surprisingly well thought out: both mature and hip." Jeffrey W./Yelp dubs it "casual Marin...with some city feel." Niel C./Yelp gives one recommendation though: "separate the kitchen more from the dining area ([a] curtain maybe?); the glare of florescent lights disrupted the mood a bit." [Marin Scope, Yelp]
The Bar Program News: Bunrab dishes on the libations, saying, "Bar Manager Chris Burgeson smoked up a glass with cedar before squeezing blood oranges into the campfire cup for a sensational spin on a whisky sour.[sic]" Betsy K./Yelp calls Burgeson a "godsend" and cheers, "finally, a real cocktail in Sausalito." The Marin IJ informs us they have "a rather large and dazzling wine list [that] features an A-list selection of mostly French, Italian and California offerings." [Bunrab, Yelp, Marin IJ]
The Dessert News: Bunrab had this to say about the Monkey Bread: it was a "caramelized wreath of buttery cinnamon brioche. This simian serving was our kind of business." Mandy M./Yelp agrees: "the monkey bread almost made me jump up on the table and screech." Miss H./Yelp says it was "sticky, caramel-y, cinnamon-y, light and airy and buttery at the same time. I devoured the entire thing ball by ball." But, she adds that the ice cream was "half melted by the time it arrived and should be timed better." [Bunrab, Yelp]
As always, please share your early thoughts on Plate Shop below or here.