What’s Hot: 10 Fireside Dining Spots for Hearth and Soul
When temperatures drop, there’s no better place to enjoy food and drink than next to a cozy fireplace.
Nothing says winter like a little down time in the dark, sipping your favorite beverage in front of a glowing, ember-studded fire. When the weather outside is frightful (or at least chilly, you NorCal native, you), cozy up in front of these fireplaces and enjoy the warmth of the season with a soothing drink or a satisfying meal. Those chestnuts aren’t going to roast themselves, you know.
The river-rock fireplace at this Mill Valley perennial favorite is larger than life — towering over guests, its orange glow beckons all to come closer. It’s the perfect backdrop for heart-felt family gatherings or dates alike, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better spot to celebrate a special evening.
Knowing that cocktails with cinnamon spice are always perfect next to a fire, the team at Bungalow 44 dreamed up the Well-Rested for sipping by its wood-burning fireplace. Siete Leguas reposado is punched up with lime, relaxes with pineapple and finds its chillest vibe with cinnamon bark syrup. Yum.
Inside the storied environs of the Phoenix Hotel, midcentury rock ’n’ roll gives way to modern cool at the in-house restaurant, Chambers Eat + Drink. Golden-hued lighting casts a warm glow on shelves of LPs, 21st century art and beaming discotheque-ish ball lamps but it is the extended chaise placed in front of the glowing fireplace that anchors the long room. It is cozy here, but with a seat this close to the bar, it is easy to order one of Chambers’ signature “drinks” or small plates. The unagi with foie gras torchon and strawberry umeboshi is not to be missed.
Just off the lobby of San Francisco’s Virgin Hotel sits the Shag Room a nook of a space adjacent to the Commons Club restaurant and bar, with a grand fireplace and velvet searing, perfect for canoodling. Purchase fish and chips or caviar bites at the bar, then cozy up to the flames’ flickering warmth.
“Hilltop prides itself for our fortunate position in the world,” says owner Erick Hendricks, who takes full advantage of the local fisheries, creameries, wineries, ranches and abundance of locally sourced produce to create the Novato restaurant’s California country kitchen menu. “I enjoy telling people no one is as lucky as our chefs and customers to have these products right out our backdoor — neither Manhattan or Paris have it better than the Marinites.” No argument there. Taste what Hendricks is talking about at this historic establishment, be it filet mignon with wild mushrooms or the signature Snowball in Hell dessert.
In operation for a quarter of a century now, this Parisian-style brasserie in Larkspur was opened by James Beard Award–winning chef Roland Passot, continues to deliver. A simple, seasonally-changing and elegant menu exudes the sensibility of the Rive Gauche, or the “left bank” in Paris. Holiday dishes will be served on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, including a selection of filet mignon, lobster tail, duck, and classic desserts such as the restaurant’s traditional Yule Log dessert.
Playing with fire isn’t advisable but it’s hard to abide by that idiom when you’re at Nick’s Cove in Marshall. Here, fireplaces come in spades, each offering a distinct vibe guests will want to feel out. But whether you’re bundled up in the boat shack, nestled next to hearth or by the wood burning stove, there’s an assortment of dishes to elevate an already sweet experience. New chef Kua Speer‘s menu features an abundance of winter veggies from The Croft — Nick’s onsite garden — like beets, chicories, broccoli, kale and turnips. At the bar expect classic wintery cocktails like hot buttered rum and eggnog as well as original creations like the forbidden fruit: house-made Granny Smith apple puree, egg whites, walnut bitters, St. George Pear Eau De Vie and lemon and cinnamon.
Overlooking Ocean Beach, Park Chalet knows its fog from its winter rain and keeps the fires burning year-round, thank you very much. The newly remodeled floor-to-tall-ceiling stone fireplace has seating for 12 guests on stylish wicker chairs. Pull the curtains to eliminate the draft and make the room within a room a cozy parlor, ideal for sipping one of the IPA’s from the on-premise brewery. Park Chalet is so committed to keeping you warm, they offer a menu of firepits that can be pre-ordered for any outdoor gathering.
The beach is magnificent on a fog-whipped or rainy day but when a respite from the chill is urgent, seek out the warm comfort of the fireplace at Stinson Beach’s Parkside Café. Make a reservation to sit next to the fire crackling from the tidy beehive oven and enjoy skilled-baked oysters gratin pulled from nearby waters. Then swipe their house made bread through the jus.
Have the fish and chips if you must, but royal afternoon tea, complete with a pot of Fireplace Chai, is designed for sipping by the fire at Muir Beach’s Pelican Inn.