Another of treasure in the North Bay Area (see Sonomic Vinegar) is the BBQ oysters at the Marshall Store in Marshall, CA. Just north of Point Reyes Station, the Tomales Bay Oyster Company farms and harvests exquisite oysters (along with clams and mussels) and their nearby family oyster bar, the Marshall Store, is grilling them to perfection. The self-described seafood shack juts out over Tomales Bay’s cool water, and doubles as a general store, selling local beer and wine to accompany your meal. I didn’t notice any indoor seating but it was not necessary given the picnic tables and casual, unpretentious outdoor bar offer a breath-taking view of the Point Reyes Peninsula, across the very waters that source your food.
Although the Marshall Store’s other menu items, like clam chowder and dungeness crab sandwich are also outstanding and fresh from the bay, the BBQ oysters are a can’t miss. They are shucked and put on the grill in the half shell, where the plump meat simmers in the oyster’s natural liquor, along with an intensely garlicky butter and a splash of house made barbecue sauce. The half or full dozen portions are served with grilled bread, essential for sopping up the broth left in your oyster shells. Having previously only been exposed to the wonderful, salty oysters of the Gulf Coast, my usual appreciation for accompaniments like lemon, horseradish and tobasco was quickly forgotten. These oysters shined on their own and the meal was truly an eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head experience that I consider an absolute privilege.
Don’t forget to grab a cool bottle of crisp white wine or local beer from the Marshall Store to compliment your seafood. We brought a bottle of Twomey Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, from nearby Sonoma County, which had a nice balance of fruit and acid and paired very well with the oysters.