Part of the charm of Crescent City and the nearby hamlets that line the Smith River and hug the Pacific Ocean shoreline -– Hiouchi, Fort Dick, Smith River and Gasquet to name a few -— is the fact that what passes for mainstream for the rest of America is in large part missing here.
A lot of that mainstream, IMHO, is either uncomfortable or unhealthy or unnecessary, so what’s to miss? I lived in the Bay Area for almost fifteen years and top of my “not missing” list is traffic, BART delays, impossible parking, 10 dollar margaritas and 40 dollar parking for Giants games.
What I do miss, however, is really good food, rampant availability of small batch/craft beers, lively conversation with folks while standing at a neighborhood bar, and generally, being among people, strangers included, who are having a good time.
If I can stretch a point, on the subject of living far from the maddening crowd I have no regrets. I wake up on the banks of the Smith, my coffee is still hot if I choose to walk among redwoods before breakfast and I can be very lucky catching perch or foraging for mushrooms. But sometimes I crave what’s gone missing.
Well, tonight I got a healthy dose of the stuff I loved about San Francisco and Berkeley. And all I did was stop in for a beer and some pizza at SeaQuake Brewery, a recently opened, quite monumental operation out at the ocean end of Front St. in good old Crescent City. I ordered a flight of beers (and ales, and stouts). I ate pizza from a brick-lined oven. I chatted with a lively crowd –- on my right a retired asphalt contractor up from Modesto (escaping the heat) and on my left a plugged-in professional couple from Pasadena (driving the coast from Portland back to LA).
The beer -– a flight of six -– was bracing, crisp, really top-notch (don’t ask for details but good beer is easily understood and this was tasty stuff). The pizza, alas, was aspiring. More heat and a braver hand with the spices would have improved my pie. The total package? A five-star experience I didn’t think Crescent City was capable of.
This isn’t really a restaurant review -– I’m not qualified, and the place has been open only a few weekends — but if it was I would give them stars aplenty.
SeaQuake Brewery is off to a spectacular start. The staff is alert, sharp, full of conversation and curiosity. The owners are right there pulling their weight, too –- behind the bar, out roaming the floor. And the beer, which is undeniably SeaQuake’s main act, is as bracing and tasty and palate-smacking good as any of the custom creations in Oregon or San Francisco I’ve enjoyed. Open just a few weeks (and only open weekends), the outlook is good for SeaQuake. I’ll be back for sure.