Reviews: Bungalow 44
In my short
tenure as The Ark's restaurant reviewer I've had the challenge
of publicly expressing my opinion about multiple establishments
in the same location over the course of two years. The location
is 44 East Blithedale in Mill Valley, known to most of us as,
"where the Avenue Grill used to be." I've experienced
Cajun food, with a happening bar scene and bad service that was
soon reworked into heavy and bland comfort food with incompetent
service. Those two failures made us bemoan our poor fate all the
"We miss Avenue Grill" we cried. When I mentioned
the upcoming visit to the new Bungalow 44, a friend commented,
"When are they going to give up on that place?"
Fear no more,
dear Readers, Bungalow 44 has arrived, and in my estimation, is
here to stay. The team from the Buckeye Roadhouse has created
a comfortable, delicious eatery that is professional, yet gracious
on every level. The exterior is much the same, save a new coat
of paint and a Craftsman style entrance. The interior arrangement
also seems similar, although new carpet, paint, a refinished floor
and beautiful light fixtures have cordially warmed up the room.
began with a house cocktail, in my case the Dreamsicle ($7.50).
Vanilla vodka, triple sec and orange juice are chilled and served
in a martini glass. I found it refreshingly potent and surprisingly
similar in taste to an orange Popsicle.
the salad ($7.75), which generously served three adults as an
appetizer. Arugula, radicchio and frisee are lightly dressed in
a well-balanced vinaigrette. Domestic goat cheese and chopped
bacon are judiciously sprinkled throughout the dish.
($10.95) is inspired by Harry's Bar-presumably the well-known
restaurant at the Cipriani in Venice, where beef carpaccio was
invented. Incidentally, Vittore Carpaccio was an Italian painter,
famous for his love of deep reds. Parchment thin slices of fresh,
raw tuna are laid out on a large plate, and drizzled with a citrus
mayonnaise. The richness of the tuna and the sauce are complemented
with a garnish of bitter Mizuna greens.
with Gorgonzola ($9.95) were awesome. Imagine fluffy little potato
pillows lightly browned, then ever so gracefully complemented
with a whisper of blue cheese and cream. This dish is ethereal,
and is not to be missed.
or Main Reasons provide extremely generous portions. Seared Day-Boat
Scallops ($21.95) was the best restaurant dish I've had in several
months. The scallops were perfectly cooked; seared to a crispy
caramel exterior with a tender, sweet and succulent interior.
They were served on a raft of fava beans, tiny Beech mushrooms
and roasted Yukon gold potatoes. Although the Fava beans were
admittedly a bit starchy due to the warm summer, the dish nonetheless
was perfected by the citrus buerre blanc that brought all the
components together beautifully.
We also feasted
on the Fried Chicken ($16.95). Four pieces of chicken are enrobed
with crushed cornflakes and fried to a crispy, deep golden brown.
The flesh itself is tender and juicy, indicating the cooking oil
temperature was correct. Coleslaw with a subtle hint of fennel
accompanies the chicken, providing a crunchy and cool contrast.
We selected Yukon Gold mashed potatoes as our Favorite Side, which
we found to be an enjoyable addition.
menu is not only suited to children's tastes, but it uses what
I consider to be "real food", food that is prepared
with the same high quality ingredients that are used for all the
dishes at Bungalow 44, rather than frozen, processed and otherwise
adulterated products that are shamefully fed to children as "happy
Ruby, quite possibly the most restricted diner in Tiburon, loved
the choices on this menu and opted for the cheese pizza ($4.95).
What arrived was a basic and chewy flatbread crust topped lightly
with a delicate tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. She not only
gave her dinner a thumbs-up, but she ate the crusts as well, and
limited her adult dining companions to no more than one bite each.
Her other options were a nitrite-free hot dog and pasta, sauced
Down Chocolate Cake ($6.50) was dense, warm, and as promised,
melted in our mouths. Personally, I'm over the whole gooey chocolate
cake thing, especially in light of the fact that Hershey has acquired
Scharfen Berger chocolate, yet I digress. In fact, this dessert
was scrumptious, sensuous and not too sweet. I also snagged the
last blackberry shortcake ($6.50), much to the disappointment
of our neighboring table. The daisy-shaped biscuit was dense yet
flaky, and the blackberries and whipped cream were in perfect
Rose ($7.glass) was not good. It wasn't cold enough, and it tasted
off. It was graciously whisked away, and replaced with an '02
Beringer Sbragia, a better choice for our scallops and a better
the food is fabulous, the service professional, the décor
lovely. Thank you Real Restaurant Group for not giving up.
44 is located at 44 East Blithedale in Mill Valley.
415 381 2500
Dinner Sunday to Thursday from 5pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday,
5pm to 11pm, with bar menu available until midnight on weekends.
Reservations and credit cards accepted.
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