Every time I cross the impressive Golden Gate Bridge and drop down into Sausalito it feels like I’m on the French Rivera with it’s scenic views of Tiburon, San Francisco and homes dotting the sloping hills up from the bay. I’ve been working in Thailand for the past 6 years so it’s a rare treat to visit this magical little town.
Back on a recent visit to California I had a business meeting with a film producer who wanted to meet near her home in Mill Valley. She suggested we meet for lunch at Le Garage Bistro Francais, a small restaurant at the end of a marina warehouse facing out to the boats on the bay. It’s located at 85 Liberty Ship Way, suite 109, about 10 minutes north of downtown Sausalito off Bridgewater Road.
As it is extremely popular it’s good to get there early for a table, especially if you want to sit outside on a nice day. Le Garage has a friendly international staff, extremely informative and the service was excellent!
My friend had the Organic mixed greens with sweet cherry tomatoes, I was bit more ambitions and had the grilled chicken breast sandwich. The salad greens were as expected, fresh and chilled, and the sandwich delicious with pommes frites. They also have a taste Croque Monsieur. A friendly guest at an ajoining table suggested I try the Organic grass feed beef ½ pound hamburger on my next visit.
After a healthy lunch we went to see some colorful houseboats, within walking distance, inhabited by local artisans. She wants to use one in the movie she will be producing. It will be and action/adventure film based on a past true story in East Timor off Indonesia. It will be filmed in Sausalito, Thailand and East Timor.
We finished our scouting of houseboats and as I was driving out of the marina area I wondered if the iconic Record Plant Studios building still existed. To my surprise it was right around the corner from the restaurant. I had dabbled in music years ago and visit the studio to see friends recording.
I drove up to the front door, which was wide open, so I walked for a look around and snap some photo’s of the famous studios.
The Record Plant became one of the top recording studios in the San Francisco area. There were also Record Plants in New York and one in Los Angeles that is still operating.
Fleet Mac recorded the 'Rumors' album in the Sausalito studios and in it's prime time, the owners threw a special party at the Plant, John Lennon and Yoko Ono showed up dressed as trees! The list of artists that recorded here was impressive… Stevie Wonder, Sammy Hagar, Prince, Carlos Santana, Heart, Journey, Jefferson Starship, Huey Lewis and the News and the list goes on!
The studio closed in 2008 for some debt and illegal substance issues that caught the attention of the feds, ” its only rock and roll as they say.”
The studios have been converted into a classy spa and social club call Harmonia.
I met with some of the owners who knew how famous this former studio had been. We agreed, “If the wall’s could only talk.”
What the new owners are doing is fitting and respectful of such an iconic location. They have converted the studios into rooms offering (Yoga, QiGong, Pilates, Jazz, Aerial Yoga and much more). They also offer workshops, wellness services and social events, including Happy Hour gatherings, dance parties, and supper clubs.
Sausalito is truly a jewel of northern California, not only for it’s scenic beauty, but also the people have not been tainted by commercialization or excess tourism. I highly recommend you at least take a drive down Bridgewater, have lunch somewhere in town or make the extra effort to venture out to Le Garage Bistro Francais. Check out Harmonic as well!
Photography by Daniel Herron 2017