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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Day Trippin': A Taste of England in the North Bay

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge The Pelican Inn - ALEXIS KATSILOMETES
  • Alexis Katsilometes
  • The Pelican Inn

I adore San Francisco; it may actually prove to be the love of my life. I love it for its abounding array of activities; I love that there is a restaurant for every half a human being (or something like that); I love the constant influx of new establishments and the ability to eat and drink in this seven-by-seven area until the Zombie Apocalypse rolls around. But every once in a while, I find myself resenting even nice, unassuming people named “Karl,” having wild fantasies about men wearing appropriately baggy jeans, and entertaining the idea of inflicting physical harm on that mustachioed hipster taking seven minutes to make my artisanal coffee. Like so many others in our sustainable and organic bubble, I don’t leave nearly as often as I should. But, in keeping with my “Do cool shit” resolution that I recently made on my 30th birthday, I will be setting out to do exactly that in this piece. I will drive, bike, hike, and walk (never run), to eat and drink at locations unfamiliar to me. Because let’s face it: Getting out of the city holds far less appeal unless there is food and booze involved.

Stop #1: The Pelican Inn

Less that 10 miles north of San Francisco exists a magical piece of the earth: Muir Woods. In just a 20-minute drive up Highway 101, you are transported to a land of tall green redwoods and expansive vistas of sheer beauty. There, you can embark on the Tennessee Valley Trail, a winding, hilly adventure that meanders along the coast. For many, hiking is an enjoyable activity on its own; for me, it’s an activity that's all the better when there's a heaping plate of food at the end of my trail. At the end of this roughly four mile trail (which takes about two hours to traverse) lies the Pelican Inn, a country hotel and restaurant that aims to capture the spirit of 16th-century England.

As you enter the dimly lit restaurant in a workout-induced haze, an affable server shows you to a table on their covered European patio, complete with ivy-speckled lattice and twinkling string lights. You settle in and quickly realize that the only thing that can alleviate the intense aching in your legs is a drink. Yeah, yeah, water after a hike is good, but trust me, a beer is better. And the Pelican has seven ice-cold options on tap, as well as over 15 bottle choices. (Note: if beer is not your drink of choice, they have a respectable wine and cocktail list complete with a damn good Bloody Mary.)

As the first tastes of the frosty Paulaner Hefeweizen cross your lips, you realize that you are starving. It's that “I can be satiated only with some large piece of animal or copious amounts of grease” kind of hunger. Thankfully, the menu is comprised of pub classics, such as bangers and mash ($12), shepherd’s pie ($12), and Guinness beef stew ($9). They're hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dishes that will quiet that awful, deafening noise your stomach is making. You decide on the fish & chips ($16), two generous pieces of ale-battered Pacific cod served with thick cut French fries and English peas.

click to enlarge Fish & Chips - ALEXIS KATSILOMETES
  • Alexis Katsilometes
  • Fish & Chips

You slather your crispy pieces of fish with tartar sauce and a generous douse of malt vinegar, order a second pint of Paulaner, and start to attack your heaping plate of food. After consuming every last piece of batter in what has to be record time, you sit back in a daze. You’re not sure if it’s the exhaustion, the effect of the beer, or the food coma, but you become simply enchanted by this place. You’re less than half an hour outside the city, but at that very moment, you could be thousands of miles away.

The Pelican Inn, 10 Pacific Way, Muir Beach, 415-383-6000.

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Alexis Katsilometes


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