For Five Star dining I expected at least a little stuffiness, but it just isn’t what The White Barn Inn is about. It’s definitely luxurious, but it’s like a celebrity interview that leaves you thinking, “you know, that George Clooney is just an everyday guy.”
Rustic Bakery. Larkspur, CAMatthew Wright • July 13, 2014
Soon after moving here over a year ago Molly and I started going to Larkspur Landing on Sundays for Food Trucks. Off The Grid does a remarkable job of organizing these. There are different trucks every week, the quality of the food is (mostly) stellar, and genuinely great bands often play on site. It’s a laid back party-like atmosphere.
What you can’t get out of a food truck, we discovered, is a good cup of coffee. To us good coffee is to a meal what a scoop of vanilla is to apple pie. We explored the brick and mortar places there in search of a fix and found Rustic Bakery.
Along Came Rustic
In an area with an almost overabundance of great coffee shops, Rustic Bakery has become our favorite for lattés. Corporate America may have deflated the value of what it means to be a barista, but at Rustic we’ve consistently seen that training and attention to detail mean something. I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad latté there. That’s impressive given that over the months at least a half dozen different baristas have made our drinks.
Rustic uses local Saint Benoît Whole Milk and Stumptown Coffee. The milk all by itself is dizzyingly good dairy. We’ve picked up a bottle here and there for home and you can taste the difference in anything you use it with.
More Than Lattés
For several months that was our Sunday routine: food trucks followed by a Rustic latté. Finally though we decided to try Rustic’s grub. We haven’t been disappointed yet, and it now shares equal time with visits to the food trucks.
My go-to for lunch has been the Asian Chicken Salad for a while now. Since it’s a salad I can order it with abandon in hopes that it will help in my efforts to lose my California food weight (I’ve plumped up a little out here). This is a complete illusion of course because there’s peanuts a plenty and a dressing so rich and tasty you could freeze it and you’d have a new flavor of Ben & Jerry’s. But I don’t care. I continue to daintily say “Oh, I’ll just have a salad.”
Molly tends to try something new each week. Our latest trip she got one of the specials, slow-roasted pork in an espresso barbeque sauce served on a house-made brioche. Needless to say I requested we go halfsies on that one. I don’t pretend to be an authority on BBQ, but I am Southern and it more than satisfied the sweet and sauce-laden meat memories of my youth.
Rustic Bakery lives up to the second half of its name. The pastries are crazy good. We haven’t tried them all, but we’re getting close. Our favorites are the Chocolate Almond Croissant, the Kouign Amann (which I have Molly order because I have yet to pronounce it correctly), and the Hawaiian Ginger Scone. The scone is my most recent obsession, it’s not too sweet and has a surprisingly heavy but pleasant pinch of salt.
Other things we love about Rustic is the obvious support they give to the community. Everything from using local Cowgirl Creamery cheeses to having a steady rotation of local artwork on the walls. The current artist in Rustic-residence is Sylvia Gonzalez. I hope the Larkspur location decides to buy the fox painting because I’ll miss it when the next installation comes through. Coming from a quaint little New England town that sort of small town spirit is something we really appreciate.
Our only complaint about a lot of brewpubs is that the food coming out of their kitchen doesn’t match the quality of their beer. El Cerrito’s Elevation 66 is a BIG exception to the rule and we love it.
Little Star Pizza is one of our favorites and not just for the pizza. The decor in the Albany location is cozy and rustic, the draft selection is always good, and the staff is the best.