Nick’s Cove, the quaint collection of cottages and a restaurant on Highway 1, doesn’t really need an introduction. A Marshall landmark, the iconic resort has seen many ebbs and flows, most recently under the management of Highway 1 Hospitality, which runs several North Bay properties. Its oyster hut has overseen the waves and the sunsets for decades.
What is a newcomer to such an institution to do? Not too long ago, chef Joshua Seibert had to get accustomed to the historic and new-to-him surroundings, taking over the food aspect at the cottages as the new executive chef. A Petaluma resident, Seibert had worked at San Francisco’s Mission Beach Cafe before deciding to focus his energy on West Marin and join the Nick’s team.
Overseeing all of the meals and the bar, he’s also in charge of The Croft, the onsite herb and vegetable garden flourishing across the highway; he’s the designated man to put twists on the true-and-tested menu—and an oyster expert—all in one.
“Honestly, I had no reservations about taking the helm at Nick’s,” Seibert says. “I was just happy and excited to be getting the opportunity to work in such a beautiful place with so much history. I know that Nick’s Cove is long-standing on the coast and there are many regulars who may not be happy with a lot of sudden changes, so I want to be sensitive to them and make sure they are happy while I slowly make changes to the menu.”
Nevertheless, the menu did get a few upgrades as of recently, with “some small tweaks to the recipes, mostly seasoning things correctly and brightening them up.” Another step-up: Currently, the menu changes every day, according to what’s available and seasonal.
“I knew that it was really important to keep Nick’s signature dishes on the menu, but I also want to appeal to a broader demographic and showcase the best of West Marin,” Seibert says. “For example, I wanted to make the salads more interesting, so I’m adding some fun twists to them and some lesser-known ingredients that I love like chickweed, miner’s lettuce, cured fish, and curried yogurt. I have also been lightening up the dishes while maintaining flavor and the comfort-food aspect of them by utilizing more vegetables, especially leafy greens like bok choy and tatsoi, and vegetable purees that aren’t weighed down by cream and butter.”
How does it feel switching gears from San Francisco’s busy and competitive dining scene to the only place on the highway for miles? “It’s much more relaxed out here in Marshall,” Seibert admits. “Although it gets very busy like the city, the ambiance is more peaceful and everyone is happy to be out here in such a beautiful and tranquil environment.”
Seibert also loves being closer to his favorite farms, like the Green String Farm, where he’s able to pick produce and talk to the farmers, “then cook the veggies that day.” Veggies are an especially big deal; “The biggest thing is probably that I didn’t have a garden at Mission Beach Cafe,” Seibert says. “Now, every day I walk up to The Croft, and see what’s growing, pick some peppers, chard, mustard greens, lettuce.”
In the future, Seibert plans to “focus on cooking the best food I can, elevating Nick’s every day, supporting our amazing local purveyors and working with our on-site farmer to produce as much healthy and delicious food as possible.”
The garden is high on his list, of course. “I’m excited to … create a food system out here that is as sustainable as possible, choosing crops that will help keep our soil nutrient-rich, and enforcing a property-wide composting program,” Seibert says. “We are currently in the planning stages for spring, and I can’t wait to see what we can do. I’m probably most excited about the large bed of asparagus that we have planned.”
Almost as excited as you should be about the refreshed and brightened menu at the local staple.
Nick’s Cove, 23240 CA-1, Marshall; 415/663-1033; nickscove.com.