Food & Drink: Shine On

For all its old-school charm and undisputed beauty, it’s been a while since San Anselmo had an exciting restaurant opening. Enter Madcap, the new solo project by chef Ron Siegel—previously of The Western Room at Rancho Nicasio. All signs point to success. Eater SF declared it one of September’s hottest new restaurants, and Yelpers give it four-and-a-half stars. The menu, a mix of Californian and Japanese touches, reads like a declaration of freshness and commitment to local product. We caught up with Siegel to find out what compelled him to open a place in Marin.

Pacific Sun: Why did you choose San Anselmo?

Ron Siegel: It’s where I live and there’s nothing like Madcap in the area. I want people to have options and maybe not have to drive to San Francisco for this type of dining.

PS: Japanese influences are so popular these days—how do you put your own spin on it?

RS: It’s not really a spin. It’s a style of food and dining I have been cooking since I won Iron Chef in Japan 20 years ago. It’s a lighter style of dining, which I prefer. We don’t use a lot of cream or butter. I prefer to focus on the ingredients. The upside is you feel really good after a meal here, not weighed down.

PS: How do you construct the main dishes and make sure that they excite diners?

RS: Of course I shop at the Marin Farmers’ Market where I can buy the best, most flavorful vegetables. I also buy from the best fishmongers and ranchers in the area. When you put those elements together with a restrained and clean approach—let them shine—they often end up being the best courses on the menu.

PS: What is the thought behind the $80 chef’s tasting menu?

RS: There’s really no target audience for this and I did not intend to offer it, but so many guests asked for one, so now we have it. Turns out it’s really popular and a great way to try a variety of menu items.

Madcap, 198 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo; 415/453-9898; madcapmarin.com.