Reviews of the finest restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area by Carol and Joe Davis - the Dining Detectives. From Sushi to Prime Rib, the Detectives dine their way across the spectum of fine food. ©2006 Carol and Joe Davis

The Best Restaurant In Marin

The Dining Detectives were at it again. A short ride south from Petaluma on Highway 101 and we arrived in Sausalito. It was a quiet Thursday evening, only a few people were sauntering along the water’s edge. Sausalito has the most wondrous view of The Bay and The City by the Bay—San Francisco.

Sailboats were enjoying the breeze and we enjoyed watching them effortlessly glide across the bay. It was a perfect "almost summer" evening-not a cloud or wisp of fog in the sky. The Sausalito landscape has evolved over the years with more upscale shops however, the restaurants seemed to have lagged behind…. until Ondine re-opened last year.

Ondine is a World-Class Restaurant with a spectacular view of the Bay and San Francisco. Engstram Design and To Design have created a wonderful atmosphere with an eclectic modern, yet Asian influence. Mahogany woodwork, Venetian Plaster walls, hand- wrought sconces, beautiful carpet, perfect subtle lighting and an elegant bar, all which make you feel like you could move right in! The Wedgwood China, imported Schott Zwiesel crystal stemware and Egyptian Linen Tablecloths truly enhanced this special room which only seats about 100. Speaking of seating, it’s rare to enjoy the luxury of sitting in McGuire chairs. They have created an atmosphere for elegant dining that incorporates Asian fusion in the food and décor.

James Minch, General Manager, has experienced the joy of reviving Ondine and his joy of being part of such a "great restaurant" is very apparent. His staff is also very professional and friendly. Alisa served us this evening and we found her knowledge of the ingredients and preparation to be superior. This definitely enhanced our overall dining experience. Their talented Chef, Seiji Wakabayashi, has brought a Modern Fusion Cuisine; a blend of French, Pacific Rim (Asian/California), and Mediterranean Style to Sausalito. Sausalito deserves a restaurant of this caliber and we are pleased to share with you some of the main attractions……dishes that we loved and highly recommend!

First Courses

Sweet Corn & Onion Soup
Guinea hen confit, marjoram cream. Light and aromatic.

Seafood Triangle
Poached sea scallop with scallop liver, fluke with sliced cucumber and Asian pear and mango sauce, Kumomoto Oysters with spicy sauce. Lovely presentation on custom pottery which was triangular in shape.

Foie Gras & House Smoked Eel
Japanese eggplant, savoy spinach, parsnip puree, cocoa-port wine sauce. This starter had absolutely fantastic flavors. Chief Seiji wanted to make sure that we enjoyed this heavenly experience!

Kung Pao Shellfish Sausage
Crisp potato net, roasted peanuts garlic Thai basil. The Crisp potato net made for a terrific looking and tasting starter.

Lobster Salad
Chrysanthemum leaves sweet ginger cream, smoked bacon, papaya, and curry oil. The Lobster was tasty and plentiful.


Grilled Rare Big-Eye Tuna
Rock shrimp risotto, baby bok choy, macadamia nut relish, coconut banana curry. Grilled to perfection.

Two Way Duckling
Sun-dried cherries & pecans, foie gras croutons, black currant-plum wine sauce. Served with bed of sautéed spinach and ube yams and sautéed foie gras croutons. We are Duck fans and this was great, cooked as we like it and great sauce to compliment this juicy meat.

Filet Mignon & Crispy Sweetbreads
Portobello mushroom-potato cake, truffle Madeira sauces. The filet was centered on the mushroom-potato cake. The only thing better than the presentation was the melt in your mouth taste.

Maine Lobster Ondine
Steamed then Pan roasted, 1 _ pound live pre cracked and shelled served with seared Julian vegetables in a Thai Pinot ginger sauce. Everyone loves Lobster yet it can be overcooked or hard to get to. Here it was moist and cooked to perfection. Definitely have this if Lobster is your favorite.


Chocolate Grand Marnier Soufflé.
This is the signature dessert and for good reason-Fantastic

Vanilla and Almond Blanc Mange-
Traditional French Custard. The Custard was light and creamy. Just Perfect.

Cheese Platter
Normandy, Goat, Cows Milk, and Sheep’s Milk.
Cheese is a nice way to finish a great meal and you rarely see it offered anymore. It was served with large Crustini and there was a type of cheese that pleased each of us. Nice Choice.


James Allen, Wine Manager, led us through the courses pairing fine wines with the Cuisine. It is a bonus to have a knowledgeable Sommelier, who asks what you like, listens and then provides you with excellent choices. We also had a lively discussion about Stemware. (Wineglasses). The taste and aroma of wines are enhanced and focused into segments of the palate. The correct style of glass brings out the best the wine has to offer. Wines must be allowed to open up….. and the correct glass is a must.

The wine list offers an impressive selection of wines by the glass and both half and full bottles. Of course the full bottles were empty bottles by the end of our meal. We want to mention that James also added wonderful zest to our evening. He loves wine, people and Ondine!

We tasted a few wines by the glass to start:

ZD 1998 Napa Chardonnay-Great flavors.
Stags Leap Wine Cellars 1998 Napa Chardonnay
Davis Bynum 1996 "Old Vines" Sonoma Zinfandel
After our first glass James took over and here are the wines that we paired with our meals.

Cuvee Lucien Albrecht 1998 Vin D’ Alsace-
A very tasty white wine from the Alsace region of France. Paired well with the Starters; Seafood Triangle and Lobster Salad

Robert Mondavi 1996 Napa Valley Chardonnay-
Paired perfectly with the Ahi.

Robert Biale 1998 Nonna’s Vineyard Napa Valley Sangiovese-
Paired well with the Filet Mignon.

The Wine List is complete and has something for even the most discerning.

Ondine is a World- Class intimate romantic dining experience. The Cuisine is Fantastic! Chef Seiji Watabayashi envisions dishes and manifests them from his heart to your palate. Then add the unbelievable view. We were amazed to see the sunset including the fire red glow off of The Bank of America building. Wow! For a special occasion or just to feel like the VIP that you already are… few Restaurants in the world can compare! Opulence, elegance and tastes all complimented by a positive friendly attitude. This is what Ondine is all about. We look forward to another visit soon.


558 Bridgeway
Sausalito,California 94965

Phone 415-331-1133
Fax 415-332-0795

Open 7 Days
5:30 P.M.-10:00 P.M.

Saturday- Sunday.
5:00 P.M.-10:00 P.M.

Sunday Brunch:
Two Courses-Prix Fix
10:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M.

Sake Paired Kaiseki Dinners
(Call for details)
Reservations Recommended

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Valet Parking Available

Elevator/Wheelchair Accessible