Seaside Cavallo Point resort in Sausalito opens new restaurants Sula, Sula Lounge, and Farley

Just over the Golden Gate Bridge, the upscale Cavallo Point resort in Sausalito has long been prized for its sweeping views of San Francisco and its historic military structures. Now, it’s getting three brand-new dining options with elegant new designs to match.

The restaurants, opening Thursday, Oct. 13, are a Mediterranean-inspired fine-dining spot called Sula (which replaces the previous restaurant called Murray Circle), an adjacent raw bar called Sula Lounge, and an American bistro called Farley (which replaces a previous spot called Farley Bar).

To revamp the new spaces, the Cavallo Point resort team hired the firm Wilson Ishihara Design. Working on the historic spaces was a special task, partners Mark Wilson and Yoko Ishihara told The Chronicle. First, the team researched the site’s history as Fort Baker, a U.S. Army base built in 1902 in a colonial revival architectural style. The base predated the Golden Gate Bridge and hosted soldiers until the year 2000, then became a resort in 2008.

Sula Lounge at Cavallo Point, which opens Thursday, Oct. 13

Sula Lounge at Cavallo Point, which opens Thursday, Oct. 13

Cavallo Point

While the outpost was a link in California’s coastal defense stations, Fort Baker saw most of its growth during times of peace, even undertaking an effort to integrate families into the base by building living quarters for officers’ families. This detail appealed to the design team, who describe themselves as pacifists. “Our references to the Army are very soft, very subtle,” Wilson said, including brass buttons on upholstery that reference uniforms. “We did not want to erase the past, but we were not going to highlight G.I. Joe.”

In helping draw out the history, Wilson and Ishihara used architectural features they inherited with the buildings, like a tin ceiling and dining rooms that were originally built as barracks. These come into contact with design elements in furniture, fixtures and even patterned carpeting that come from the 1920s Bauhaus movement, which Ishihara describes as bearing a “utilitarian beauty.” 

Artwork commissioned for the space includes a painting of a volleyball game on base, inspired by an old monochrome photo.

“We wanted to have these stories embedded everywhere,” Ishihara said.

Sula, a fine-dining restaurant at Cavallo Point
Sula, a fine-dining restaurant at Cavallo PointCavallo Point

In the dining room, the designers sought to create an atmosphere reminiscent of intimate, elegant officer club parties of the 1920s and the active social life on base. Sula’s banquettes and tables don an olive green and wood color palette similar to officers’ uniforms from the era. Farley, meanwhile, features navy blue booths and historical scenes from the base’s past on its walls.

Executive Chef Michael Garcia, who spearheaded the site’s previous restaurant Murray Circle and boasts experience working at the now shuttered Cliff House and Jeremiah Tower’s old landmark Stars, remains as the head of the new restaurants. Garcia’s menu at Sula  is described as upscale Mediterranean, with dishes including steak tartare, fresh pastas and grilled branzino accented with sauces and purees. Sula Lounge will be pouring sparkling wines and aperitifs along with cocktails and oysters. And Farley leans more toward American fare with burgers, Dungeness crab rolls and seared ahi tuna.

The meeting of design, menus and history of the site is meant to evoke an old-time elegance that doesn’t feel like a museum piece.

“We wanted to bring that to the front so that the guests can relive that experience here,” Ishihara said.

Mario Cortez (he/him) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected]