Slow Dining Adventure at Alice’s Restaurant
Nestled among the redwoods in an idyllic Woodside setting, family-owned Alice’s Restaurant is a world-famous dining spot with a popular menu and a generous serving of charm. Built in the 1920s and still sporting the original bar stools, Alice’s was already named after the famous Arlo Guthrie anti-Vietnam War song in the 1970s, when current owners, brothers Jamie and Alex Kerr took over. But the restaurant has its own place in local history and has been a favorite hangout for families, motorcyclists and tourists (there’s even a hitching post for equestrians) for much of its existence.
In addition to the vibrant community and homey experience, Alice’s supports local producers and sustainable practices, which earned the restaurant a spot on Slow Food South Bay’s target list for a Slow Dining Adventure. Edible Silicon Valley joined Slow Food South Bay members for this special inside look at an old favorite spot.
Meeting the Producers
Just like on many days at Alice’s, the recent Slow Dining Adventure was a friendly farm-to-table collaboration. Among us at the dinner was the Markegard family, who provided the pasture-raised, 100% grass-fed beef from their Markegard Family Ranch in San Gregorio. Doniga Markegard shared how her family stewards the ranch land and why Belted Halloway cattle, a heritage breed from Scotland, deliver superior taste when finished on grass alone. Also Liz Band from nearby SMIP Ranch, which grew the produce served that night, talked about her experiences at the farm and how SMIP works with Bacchus-managed restaurants, Alice’s and their own CSA to get their organic produce onto our plates.
Alice’s general manager John Ginanni, explained how the restaurant sources its food. “We are happy to forgo the small amenities of a distributor,” he said. “More so than the idea of buying ‘local,’ I like the idea of buying from friends. People who I know, and who I trust. I like helping to unload a case of Early Girl tomatoes from Guillermo’s pickup truck of Del Sur Farms in Pescadero—we give him Alice’s T-shirts for his delivery fee. We pay a bit more for Markegard’s beef, but you realize why when you visit the farm and see how they do things.”
This was a shared meal that did more than satisfy our hunger and indulge our taste buds. It also nurtured our souls with knowledge, laughter and the notion that just by being there we were doing something right. Slow dining impacts our community from environmental sustainability to personal health and local economics. And knowing where your food comes from is a bonus.
Slow Food South Bay
Guided by 12 local leaders and its membership, Slow Food South Bay—a chapter of the global Slow Food organization—is on a mission to “educate, celebrate and advocate” about sustainable food systems and our regional food web. In pursuit of this, Slow Food is organizing a series of Slow Dining Adventures and Slow Sips to bring awareness to restaurants and bars that offer organic, locally sourced produce, microbrews and wine; grass-fed, pastured raised meats and poultry; and sustainable practices. The goal is to connect farmers with restaurants and consumers and to educate consumers about our regional food web and how to access and support it.