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Barrel House Tavern, Splendid in Sausalito

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[Photos: Patricia Chang]

While other restaurants may use the word "barrel" in their names to denote a wine or beer focus, the strategy is more literal at Sausalito's Barrel House Tavern, whose curved ceiling beams definitely resemble what you'd find in a cave in Napa. Housed in the historic ferry terminal that shuttled passengers from Sausalito to SF before the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, the former Houlihan's and Water Street Grille space took nearly two years to renovate, a process that shows in the hip fire orbs, enormous marble bar, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water. Owner Chris Henry had fond childhood memories of eating in the space when it was Purity Market, and wanted to open a seafood spot of his own, with plenty of sustainable options.

The food comes from chef Matthew Bousquet, who was most recently the executive chef at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. Before that, he co-owned Mirepoix in Windsor, which netted a Michelin star, and its casual sister spot Bistro M. (Both closed in 2011.) At Barrel House, he's bringing his French-cuisine chops to bear on a variety of seafood dishes, including butter-poached lobster sliders, pancetta-wrapped trout, and seared tuna with oxtail and tortellini. There are a number of raw options, as well as ribeye and lamb shoulder for those who prefer meat to fish. Here's the full menu.

On the drinks side, GM Ginny Brown and Hog & Rocks alum Miranda Poore concocted the menu, which features options like the Babyface Nelson, with barrel-aged rum, yellow Chartreuse, lime, and Peychaud's bitters, and the Unicorn, with gin, green Chartreuse, lime, basil, mint, soda, and grapefruit bitters. Particularly notable is a build-your-own-soda program, allowing drinkers to combine up to three soda flavors into a non-alcoholic creation of their own (strawberry, vanilla, thyme, tarragon, and even bacon are among the options; booze can be added, too). The menu is rounded out by an all-California wine list. Here it is in full.

Tonight is opening night for Barrel House. They're starting with dinner service from 5-10 pm daily, and are hoping to open for lunch as well beginning next week, at 11 am. Also of note: they're not affiliated with BarrelHouse, which is a cocktail bar in Burlingame. We told you the name was popular.

· Barrel House rolling into Sausalito [Inside Scoop]

Barrel House Tavern

660 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965 (415) 729-9593