Sunday, May 08, 2005

Insalata's: Restaurant Review

When I was growing up there were only a handful of good restaurants in Marin. But as the Bay Area has gotten more and more interested in fine food, options have increased. There are more stores, more farmers markets and more terrific restaurants in Marin than ever.

Insalata's in San Anselmo opened in 1997, long after my time in Marin. It's a pretty place, airy and open but not too noisy. Warm and inviting it feels special due in part to the fresh flowers and large-scale contemporary art. The food is something special too.

The menu is unique to the Bay Area, a combination of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influenced California cuisine. Everything here always tastes fresh and often features exotic spices and herbs. You can choose from a whole host of appetizers, salads, pastas, and main dishes that change frequently with the seasons. Right now asparagus, halibut and kumquat signal Spring has arrived. Prices for main dishes hover between $17 and $24.

At brunch to celebrate Mother's Day we enjoyed delectable eggs benedict served on a scone with sauteed mushrooms, savory sausages and bacon, perfectly rare grilled lamb with a salsa verde, roasted salmon, fresh asparagus with sliced almonds and tons of delicious salads -- seafood salad, Israeli couscous salad, mixed beet and citrus salad, and lentil salad to name a few. Each salad was redolent with herbs and vegetables. The dessert section was practically obscene with at least three kinds of cakes, cupcakes, creme brulee, chocolates, a cappuccino cream, a lemony souffle-pudding with strawberries and more.

Insalata's is the perfect place to celebrate with friends or family, and even if you don't make it into the restaurant, check out some of Chef Heidi Krahling's recipes on the website. I think I may try the Halibut Tarator this week...

120 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
San Anselmo
Open everyday for lunch and dinner