The minute we concluded our hike to Tennessee Beach on a glorious fog-free day, our attention immediately turned to our growing hunger. We decided to cash in our post-hike reward at Murray Circle, which is located at Fort Baker, a former Army base below the Golden Gate Bridge. Passport Resorts, who also operates Big Sur’s famed Post Ranch Inn, took the lead on this project as well. Murray Circle is the resort’s marquee restaurant, and Farley is the adjacent bar, named for late cartoonist Phil Frank’s cartoon bear. The zip code says Sausalito, but the resort’s 45 acres feel a world apart, featuring amazing views of the bridge, the bay and the San Francisco skyline.
Several framed Farley comic strips adorn the canary walls. The stately room also features wood flooring and a pressed tin ceiling. Porch seats offer those prized views, but they were all taken, so we moved inside, which still turned out to be plenty relaxing.
Chef Joseph Humphrey heads the kitchen for Murray Circle and Farley Bar, and his sous chef brother Tim was leading the line during our meal. We already had early dinner plans and were forced to limit ordering to a single Grass Fed Beef Burger ($17). According to our waitress, the beef originated on the 3000-acre Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas’ multi-use property in Marin County. The Humphrey brothers grill the beef blend (primarily brisket) over oak to form a smoky flavor.
The patty sported a light sear and was grilled to order – medium rare – leading to a rosy center and plenty of residual juices. The accompaniments were a thick slab of yellow heirloom tomato, crisp gem lettuce and a generous helping of artisan cheddar. House-made brioche contributed to a winning ratio of beef to bun. On the side, we received a single spear of January’s spicy pickle, a lip-curling tribute to chef who used to cook in the kitchen. There was also a little bin of French fries, Kennebec potatoes fried in canola oil, lightly salted, featuring crisp exteriors and starchy cores. It would be hard to improve upon the simplicity of the plate. Of course some thick-cut bacon wouldn’t have hurt anything.
To drink, we ordered Spiced Tea ($7), a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail consisting of iced black tea, lemon verbena and Gewürztraminer grape juice. It made me wonder why there aren’t more single-grape juices.
Farley Bar’s weekend brunch menu featured other tempting options, including fried chicken & waffles, wood-grilled pork with house-made morcilla and a Dungeness crab BLT. They also offer an extensive bar menu that pops free in the afternoon. The Humphrey brothers produced a very good burger, so it made me wonder what they could accomplish with pork.