This is one of those stories that requires some divination, as the events that led to this discovery quickly surpassed the mental fortitude of both parents on duty at the time.
We have dear friends in Eureka that we visit a couple of times every year (quick shout out to Nate and Jen Padula). This pilgrimage up north, with children in tow of course, has been happening since our son was a few months old, so needless to say, we are battle-tested and proven.
As most trips, the hardest part is the journey homeâ€”284 miles back to responsibility. The furthest distance from this Northern reprieve, that we will ever be, until the next time we do it again. The motions this day were no different from before, suffice two minor details. Load the car, get the kids their necessary accouterments and complacently head home. The two differences were 1. My sonâ€™s cargo included milk (thatâ€™s a first) and 2. It was a much warmer day than we realized.
Bring on the twists and turns of mountain driving.
Somewhere between Ukiah and Geyserville and upon asking how our oddly quiet boy was doing, we saw that look. Parents know it all too well. The 100-yard stare and a skin tone more closely the palette of gray than pink. No sooner had we determined that he wasnâ€™t â€śwellâ€ť than he let go with decorating the whole backseat and himself in car snacks and milk.
Panic set in as we quickly found a safe place to pull over and do damage control. Loading us all back into the car, he in fresh pajamas and all windows open, did we determine that we would need to stop somewhere to regroup (and get my wife a beer).
Next stop, Cloverdale!
Once off the 101 we pulled into the first place with a neon â€śOPENâ€ť sign. This place was the Railroad Station Bar and Grill. I went in to scope it out prior to unbuckling our brood or causing any further disappointment to my wife. It was clean (check), sparsely populated (check), had a full menu (check) and the Monday Night Football Game was on (bonus). I waved the troops to advance to the front.
Immediately, a most jovial, but not overly happy, server greeted us. She seemed very pleased to see us and even more excited that we had not been there before, acting almost like she had been expecting us and would show us to our favorite table. Without asking she brought a highchair and a wonderful bottle with three glasses (the baby was still â€śon the boobâ€ť) of fresh spring water, then retreated to give us the necessary space to regroup.
Such an oddly identified place, it is in an old, virtually untouched from the outside, train station on the corner where once-great steel steam machines would stop, and but for a few train pictures or model engines, the likeness stopped there. Instead, there are pictures and homage to the ownersâ€™ clear Nepalese decent, and oddly again, it just worked!
The food was unexpected at best. Hand made veggie burgers made with bulgur wheat, black beans, mushrooms, mirepoix, pickled onions and Monterey jack cheese, and all meat burgers grass fed. Stuffed tomatoes, hand cut fries and clam fettuccini. Seventy craft beers available and wines from nearby Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. We had found our oasis.
Best of all, nobody cared or mentioned my son in pajamas. The Chef brought our food and later returned to see if we approved and the bartender stopped by just to say â€śhi.â€ť
By the time we left, we were ready for whatever the road and the approaching week had in store, and now, every time we go and visit our friends in Eureka, we visit our new friends in Cloverdale on the way home.
114 Railroad Avenue, Cloverdale, CA 95425