Kitchen: The restaurants in Novato are improving
I used to have a tip posted here with words of praise for Novato's Kitchen Restaurant. I've erased that because we went back last Thursday and everyone's dish was mediocre. My salad was overpriced considering I only got a couple of leaves of lettuce, some tiny crescent shaped beet slices and a thimbleful of gorgonzola. My ravioli plate was small and overpowered by the smoked ham, which was there for a reason. The ravioli was bland without it. The paella was oily and didn't taste like paella. The halibut was bland. The chicken dish was small and unexciting.
Service was slow. We had to wait 20 minutes for service after we sat down. Having been in the restaurant biz in a previous life, I know that is an absolute no-no.
Favorite Dish: The selections were limited for vegetarians and there was no vegetarian main course option. I'm sorry, that is unacceptable for northern California. There is no reason why with its cuisine, the Kitchen couldn't offer a vegetarian selection.
The Kitchen has been around long enough that these kinks should have been worked out. This one is not on my A list anymore. Nor my B list. Maybe C, more likely D.
- Food and Dining
KITCHEN: TWO BAD DINING EXPERIENCES IN A ROW
When you open the door to this relatively new restaurant in Old Town Novato, the first impression is "warm and cozy". After being seated everything went downhill very quickly. We had a table for four and I was the only vegetarian, so my choices were rather limited . I ordered the Endive Salad and a Pasta/Fungi dish. I was told by the rather arrogant waiter that the pasta dish was not available but that they could do a vegetable plate containing a wonderful assortment of both hot and cold vegetables. What arrived was an appetizer sized serving of approximately 1/2 cup of "Israeli Cous Cous" surrounded by a very small ring of something that tasted vaguely like Bok Choy greens and topped with 2 or three shoestring cut pieces of what I assume were potato or turnip or was it rutabaga? Darned if I could tell. OK,so my dish was a disappoinment but being a vegetarian in a restaurant that does not really cater to vegetarians is to be expected most of the time (exceptions are the pasta dishes and the "Vegetable Tower" at Wild Fox) but I thought my guests might enjoy Kitchen. They did not. Two of them ordered the Prawns served with the "Israeli Cous Cous" but it was swimming in a sauce so abundant that it could have been served as a soup and I was told that the sauce was not very good. One guest left most of hers uneaten. The other politely asked to take hers home. I would have chalked this up to the restaurant having a bad night but the waiter gave us so much attitude which added to my unhappiness. The only other time I was at Kitchen, three of us had "Paella" which I found out afterwards was Kitchen's version of Paella. Anyone who knows Paella knows that the rice is the thing. It should take on the flavor of the seafood and everything else you put into it but not be too moist. Again, the rice was swimming in sauce and it was nothing like the Paella I know. I guess it was my fault for giving Kitchen another chance. I will not make that mistake again.
Las Guitarras: Decent Mexican food
Las Guitarras has pretty good Mexican food, although like most Bay Area Mexican restaurants, the food it serves is not spicy. However, it is tasty enough, and the margaritas are fairly good. The restaurant is located in a small cottage (not your typical stucco building). It also has a good sized outdoor dining area (with an unscenic view), which is kind of nice for those rare warm Marin County evenings when you truly want to dine al fresco.
Favorite Dish: My kids like the carne asada. My husband liked the pork chile verde. I liked the cheese enchilada with green sauce. Basic but reliable Mexican fare that is typical of the kind served in the United States Mexican restaurants.
- Family Travel
California Grill and Rotisery: Great grilling!
Housed in a former A&W location, this place looks a little dive-ish, if you know what I mean. However, it's a great place to go if you want some good ribs or grilled tri-tip or chicken. The formerly outdoor patio is covered in a tent-like structure, with plastic walls, and heaters to keep you warm.
Favorite Dish: Chinese chicken salad. The chicken is delicious and served on a generous portion of shredded cabbage and lettuce, topped with toasted almonds and served with a piece or two of garlic bread. Yummmmmm.
Mark's favorite dish is the steak sandwich with sauteed onions and horseradish sauce with a side of grilled corn on the cob. Yeah!
Kitchen at eigh sixty-eight grant: Finally a really GOOD restaurant in Novato!!
A small restaurant that is generally full, so you'd better make reservations, this place is great! We'd been hearing about it for months but hadn't had the opportunity to go there. On the spur of the moment, 6 of us decided to go there for an early dinner. We arrived at 5:30 and there were enough empty tables for them to put together a 6-person table. 10 minutes after we were seated, however, there were people waiting outside the door. Phew!
It was difficult to decide what to order -- everything on the menu looked so delicious! We all loved everything we ordered. FINALLY, a really good restaurant in this town.
Favorite Dish: Seared sea scallops with cauliflower puree, scarlet turnips , smokey charmoula and aioli. Yow!
Cacti: Delicious South West cuisine
The building was a church many decades ago and has gone through a few restaurant incranations in the past 30 years. It's latest incarnation has been around 12 years and is still quite successful. I can, with certainty, say that this is the best food being served in Novato right now. At least, that's going by our most recent experience. Everything is South Western in style. For instance, my husband had filet mignon fajitas to die for.
Favorite Dish: I had the grilled lamb with fresh green beans, carrots and mashed potatoes, and it was some of the best lamb I've ever had. The only thing that would have been better was if they'd served it with mint SAUCE instead of mint JELLY. But even that was passable.
Las Guitarras: More upscale Mexican dining
Very good Mexican food (ETS calls it Tex-Mex tho) in a more upscale setting than many of the Mexican restaurants in town. Lovely patio dining is available, as is indoor seating both upstairs and down.
Favorite Dish: Chicken taco salad, please and thank you. Though a top shelf margarita on the rocks aint half bad.
Peppers Cafe: "Late night" dining
Okay, when I say late night, it's relative. So far, finding a restaurant open past 9pm has been a challenge! We walked in to Peppers at 9:50pm one evening, after a baseball game with cjg1, and my god, they were open! They closed at 10, and there was only our table and two other tables with customers. I think they even had to reopen the kitchen... but by god, they were friendly and the food was good and fairly priced.
Favorite Dish: I had a cheeseburger on a french roll. It was HUGE. I quickly realized I'd forgo even trying to eat the top half of the roll. Instead, I just focused on eating the meat. Oh -- unless you ask, they use American cheese. You can request a mixture of cheddar and monterey jack instead.
Italian Delite: Oh my GOD sandwiches
These guys make GREAT sub sandwiches. They have the absolute best cheese steak sandwhiches I've ever had. Their meatball and pizza sandwiches are pretty damned good too. If you're looking for cheap and yummy, here's the place. Nothing fancy here.
Favorite Dish: Cheese steak!
El Palmar Restaurant: Cheap and tasty eats!
A very authentic, delicious Mexican restaurant in the heart of Novato. And only a block from my house. There are a LOT of Mexican restaurants in this area, and granted, I haven't tried them all yet. But so far, I think this place is my favorite.
Their soups LOOK great, but I haven't had the chance to try one yet.
Favorite Dish: Chicken gordita. A delicious and filling combination of a chicken sandwich and chicken tostada. The chicken has great flavor and the queso fresco has just the right bit of tanginess. Only $2.75. Trust me, you don't need more food than that. Though some hibiscus juice is a nice accompiament.
Red Boy Pizza: Best Pizza in Novato
Red Boy Pizza is a great bay area chain of pizza restaurants. However, while they all mostly have the same menus, each restaurant has varying degrees of greatness in their cooking.
This Red Boy is good, but not as good as the one on 4th Street in San Rafael (see the tip on my San Rafael page). This one is, however, 3 blocks from my home. ;-)
Favorite Dish: Devil's Dare pizza, of course!
Hilltop Cafe: Hilltop Cafe
This is an older building (by Novato standards) that was formerly the Moose Lodge, and sits atop a hill (surprise!). When I was a child, I remember vandals would paint over the top half of the second O in MOOSE, on the Moose Lodge sign...
Favorite Dish: I don't actually eat here a lot. But this is probably the nicest restaurant in Novato, with good California Cuisine type fare.
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