Homegrown Food and Music at San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads
By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
A multidisciplinary approach to art and entertainment proves rewarding at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California. The all-American restaurant opened earlier this year.
By merging music and culinary arts in one rather spacious and inviting venue, Phil Lesh, the founding member of the legendary band Grateful Dead and a Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer, and his wife, Jill, brought together a vast array of live bands, an army of music fans, and stellar seasonal cuisine by chef Chris Fernandez. The chef has experience at Oliveto Restaurant and Cafe and Poggio under his belt.
Suffice it to say that Lesh performs at the Terrapin Crossroads when he is not touring, as do his his famed colleagues. These include Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, Dickie Betts and Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic, Mike Gordon of Phish, John Scofield, Jackie Greene, Stanley Jordan, and J. Geils.
While the well-appointed dining hall seats 150, the performance venue, dubbed the Grate Room, fits 350. There is also a waterfront patio overlooking San Rafael Canal with a private dock for diners’ boats, and a bar/lounge area where people dance to live music for no cover several times a week.
As for food and drink, an eventful evening here can start with a specialty cocktail, such as the Jade, made with Hendrick’s gin, St. Germaine, basil, and lime, or with a glass of one of the local draught beers, such as a refreshing Magnolia Kalifornia Kolsch. There is also a very satisfying wine list comprised of enticing labels mostly from Napa and Sonoma.
The menu includes several highlights. Fried squash blossoms are melt-in-your-mouth doughy morsels stuffed with airy ricotta and complimented with sweet tomato jam, while the crispy pork belly is glazed with Lagunitas “Brown Shagga” beer and garnished with flavorful caramelized apples.
Mushroom and arugula wood-fired pizza is made with roasted crimini, fontina, and plenty of arugula.
Delectable skinless Alaskan halibut is crisped in olive oil and butter and served with pea shoots, frisee, Jimmy Nardello peppers, and toy box tomato sauce.
Rotisserie half-chicken from the wood grill is golden-brown and irresistible with shallot herb jus, creamy mashed potatoes, and fresh snap peas.
On the dessert menu, warm chocolate tart is predictably decadent, while orange sugar dusted donuts belong to the never-to-be-missed category. These crispy, fried beignets have just a hint of orange essence thoroughly enhanced by two delectable sauces: butter bourbon and crème Anglaise.
Terrapin Crossroads is located at 100 Yacht Club Drive in San Rafael. The dining room is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with bar service from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (415) 524-2773 for reservations.