San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants Sourcing Local Food: Nick’s Cove

The important relationship between farm to table restaurants and local farms.

Executive chef Austin Perkins on local sourcing and sustainable seafood.

Located 50 miles north of San Francisco, California in a small town called Marshall, Nick’s Cove has an 80-year history in the Tomales Bay area.

Originally a fish shack and roadhouse, Nick’s underwent a major renovation in 2007, emerging as an elegant waterside restaurant featuring seasonal farm-to-table and sea-to-table California cuisine.

What sustainability measures have you implemented at Nick’s Cove?

Austin Perkins: There was already a pretty extensive program in place that was initiated at the reopening in July 2007.

We compost our oyster shells as well as our scraps to create beautiful soil for the garden. Additionally, we recycle all can, aluminum and glass products.  We are all very conscious of what we put into the landfill and ensure that our staff is trained to recycle as much as we are able.

You have a gorgeous illustration on your menu of the local area and the food producers and artisans located in the Marin/Sonoma foodshed.  Is this representative of where you get your food?

Austin: Thank you! We are all very proud of that map because it very clearly communicates many things:

1) we support locally sourced products

2) we support our neighbors

3) we honor and appreciate the relationships we have created with many of our farmers, dairies, etc.

I believe that approximately 80% of all our food is sourced locally. We do deal directly with many of our vendors (Rossotti Ranch, Canvas Ranch, Drakes Bay, Tomales Bay Oyster Company, Larry Wagner, Fallon Hills, Devil’s Gulch, etc.); however, we also are required to go through distributors for other products such as Clover, Straus, Star Route—for those we use local distributors such as Sonoma County Growers Exchange, Golden Gate Meat Company, Greenleaf, etc.

Is it more expensive to source locally?

Austin: It is more expensive to source locally, but the majority of our clientele expects that and understands the cost associated with it.

Is local sourcing and sustainability important to your patrons?

Austin: I believe it’s important to the majority of our patrons.  Generally, when we receive feedback on our sourcing practices, it’s to thank us and to further applaud us for caring enough to serve the bounty from our neighboring ranches, etc.

What is your seafood policy?

Austin: We strive to source whatever is local and in season. As a seafood restaurant we are expected to, and we want to, serve fresh seafood.

Because seasonality is such a significant factor in fresh fish, there are times we must go outside of the area to source seafood (scallops, mussels, lobster) and when we do, we are careful that we do not hide that fact. For the most part, our patrons understand the reasons why we might have fish that was not sourced locally.

If you could change one thing that would make local sourcing easier or more practical, what would it be?

Austin: We are so lucky to be located in West Marin because it’s rare that we ever have issues sourcing local product. There are times that a small farmer may have difficulty keeping up with our needs, but we always find ways to make it work!

Read more about sustainable restaurants here.

Finding Locally Sourced Food: Where to eat in Point Reyes

Sustainable Restaurants: A complete dining guide for Point Reyes California, and the Tomales Bay area.

More Ethical Foods Restaurant & Chef Interviews

In The Kitchen

Sustainable Kitchen Buying Guides

How to Buy Fresh, Organic, Sustainably Grown Local Produce
The best fruit and veg is local, seasonal and organically grown…but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be sporting an organic label. Read more
Meat: How To Buy Healthy, Humanely Raised Beef, Pork, Lamb and Goat
There are many reasons to avoid eating meat unless you know how it was produced. Learn what the issues are, how to navigate the confusing world of meat labels and use our checklist to find the best beef, lamb, goat and pork. Read more
Guide to Ethical Food on a Budget
Our best tips to help you eat nutritious, local, ethical and organic food for less Read more
Everything You Need to Know to Buy Healthy, Humanely Raised Chicken
You want birds that were raised humanely and you want birds that ate healthful, natural foods to ensure the best quality meat. But don’t be fooled by nice-sounding labels, even ones like “organic.” When it comes to buying poultry, a little homework will ensure your good intentions and extra expenditure don’t go to waste. Read more
Understanding egg labels
How to Buy Humanely Raised Eggs: Which Labels Are Best?
Labels are a start, but don’t tell the whole story. That’s why, no matter what the label says, you need to ask your egg producer these questions and decide for yourself if his practices meet your standards. Read more

2020 Goals: Healthy Cooking