Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Watering Hole Review: The Pelican Inn

A Taste of London in Muir Beach, CA:

"As soon as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude. There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn." - Samuel Johnson

It is a rare thing to find a traditional pub in the United States, especially on the West Coast, which simply because of its age never had a chance to develop its "pub scene." But every so often one can discover a jewel. For example, the Horse Brass Pub here in Portland, holding the title of the oldest pub in Portland and having a sister back in England, South London's Prince of Wales (Which particular Prince of Wales it is, I don't know. There are dozens in London!). The only issue with places like the Horse Brass has to do with those who can actually enjoy the space. Kids and families usually stray away from such venues because of the more rowdy atmospheres. Where on the other hand, for example, many of the pubs in England and Scotland will act as hotels and restaurants which all family members can enjoy. Of course 21 and over joints are needed, but when there are so few traditional pubs and eateries here in the US which allow children, younger ones can miss out on locations which have more history and authenticity built into then. That's why The Pelican Inn in Muir Beach, CA was such a pleasant discovery.

Right off the Muir Beach near the entrance of Muir Wood and the surrounding Tennessee Valley, Mt. Tamalpais, and Mill Valley, with easy access to a variety of trail heads, the Pelican Inn provides a safe haven for weary hikers, bikers, tourist, and locals alike who need something to eat and a good pint to go along with it. Just a short drive from San Francisco, on pulling into the parking lot one feels miles away from one of the largest cities in California. Step inside and you might feel you’re a few thousand miles from America in an outlying borough of England, not to mention a couple centuries back in time. Adorning the walls lay memorabilia of 400 years of English history, while the wood paneling and white walls are genuinely worn with age, rather than simply made to look shabby and chic.

Serving traditional English fare and only providing what they have on their small draft selection, the Pelican has no license to serve hard liquor; only beer and wine. I can only speak for the beer (Harps Lager) and a few small ploughmen’s platters we ordered but I was pleased. Being in the pub rather than the adjoining restaurant the place was packed out with friends and families alike, yet the atmosphere was calm and quiet to the point where I had to watch my volume.

Some might question how authentic a 17th century English style inn off the California coast can be. True enough, but I would suggest you at least try it out. You might just find yourself forgetting where you are, being drawn into the conversations, the laid back environment, and questioning whether or not our more modern accommodations have really achieved the level of comfort and relaxation we desire (or once knew).

Retracing our steps down Mt. Tamalpias: