A sunny summer lunch
Enjoying the afternoon on the back deck of the Noyo Harbor Inn
What a glorious day. After a particularly long rainy season and days of gray and cloudy skies, the sun was finally out to say hello. A stiff coastal wind was piling waves up against the base of the rocky cliffs that rimmed Noyo Bay up in Fort Bragg, but out on the sheltered back deck of the Noyo Harbor Inn, all we got was a gentle breeze ruffling our hair as the sunshine warmed our backs and the Noyo River rolled quietly by.
Per the manager’s recommendation, we had ordered a couple cooling Zen Collins, the perfect “porch pounders” as she dubbed them, for the sunny afternoon. Green tea vodka with lemon and soda, they were bright and refreshing, just the right thing to sip on as we watched the cormorants sunning themselves on the harbor wall below. The ravens and seagulls were soaring on the updraft over the river, and little songbirds were flitting about the trees by the inn as they sang out the happiest little anthem to the sun. We sipped our drinks and soaked it all in.
And then the waitress brought us the Flash Fried Brussels Sprouts… umm… we may have found our latest addiction. We had already cherished a long-standing affection for the tightly furled and sometimes underappreciated Brussels sprout, but what we found on our plate that afternoon raised that affection quite nearly to passion. Seriously. Flash fried to the point of perfect tenderness, with a hint of crispy around the edges. Tossed with toothsome little strips of bacon, candied walnuts, and deeply satisfying parmesan. Drizzled all over with a light maple dressing. We couldn’t stop stuffing them in our mouths – they were like crack for anyone who even halfway sort of kind of likes to eat food.
Next up was a steaming bowl of Portuguese Bean Soup – that day’s Soup of the Day. With cannellini beans, linguiça, summer squash, chard, and other savory goodies, it was a good counterpoint to the richness of the Brussels Sprouts. We dipped the accompanying pan-toasted baguette slices in the comforting broth, a touch of heat from the linguiça tickling the back of our throats, and looked up from our feeding frenzy as the sea lions at the far end of the harbor started up their barking chorus.
As fluffy white clouds scudded low across the hills that framed our view of the Noyo River, we sat back and slowed down. We sipped the last lingering drops of our cocktails and toyed with the final few morsels on our plates, contentedly full yet not wanting to lose even one little bit of all the yummy goodness that had been our lunch. There was such a profound feeling of peace that rested over that sun-washed deck and the fishing boats below. A mother harbor seal and her brand new pup floated placidly by in the gentle river current – this was serenity.
Recently renovated and reopened in 2017, this exquisite craftsman style hotel and restaurant serves breakfast and lunch until 2:00pm daily. They have Happy Hour 4:00pm-5:30pm and serve dinner 5:00pm-9:00pm. Go for lunch on a sunny afternoon and enjoy their wonderful back deck. When you go, soak in the historic feel of the property, which was originally built as a private residence in 1868 by a Fort Bragg lumber baron. Then tell us all about it!
Written by Laura Hockett