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Lake Tahoe/Reno Report

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Lake Tahoe/Reno Report

Dave Feldman | Jun 30, 1999 03:16 AM

Just came back from a week in Lake Tahoe with my
family. It's always interesting for a chowhound to be
somewhere where there is no assurance of eating
interesting restaurant food. But it can also be an
eye-opener.

For example, I'm always suspicious of restaurants with
a beautiful view. But if my prejudice were true, then
almost every restaurant in Tahoe with a picture window
would be lousy before the chef turned out his or her
first dish.

Turns out that our first meal, at Captain John's, in
between Incline Village and Tahoe City, was our best.
Stunningly fresh fish (including terrific steamed
clams). My pan-fried red trout was a standout, too.

Some of the other highly touted restaurants on the
North Shore with spectacular views (Jake's, Lone
Eagle) were only a step above a Charthouse, but we
didn't encounter any culinary travesties.

But we also ate some decent barbecue (actually, smoked
meats) at Fast Eddie's in Tahoe City (featuring great
cole slaw) and Japanese food at Sato, in South Lake
Tahoe. And the Coffee Connection was excellent, a
great find.

In Reno, I revisited two favorites. Louis's Basque is
always a treat, with family style dinners (this time,
the choices of entrees included calamari steak, top
sirloin, rabbit, and superb lamb chops -- darn it, I
ordered the rabbit). Everything else is shared,
including vegetable soup, salad, chicken (yes, as an
appetizer), wonderful french fries, and choice of red,
white, or rose wine. Dessert was a choice of dried
jack cheese or a chocolate sundae. All for $17.95.
My father claimed this was the closest to home cooking
he had ever encountered at a restaurant, and part of
the charm of the place is meeting your table-mates
(each table seats ten, and you are always placed next
to others, even if the restaurant is relatively dead,
as it was late on a weeknight). Invariably, I've
gotten into long discussions with other patrons.

At one time, there were many Basque restaurants in
Reno. Now, Louis's is it, and it is great fun and
features terrific, honest food.

One night, my brother, father, and I went to the
Peppermill Casino in Reno to gamble. My brother, an
otherwise wonderful fellow, is a buffetophile, so my
father and I went to the coffee shop. I'm a big fan
of the Peppermill in Las Vegas, and the menu at the
Reno branch is even bigger than the one in LV,
although the portions aren't quite as gigantic.

What can you say about a place that serves totally
inauthentic versions of various regional and ethnic
specialties, but does so with style? My father
pronounced his egg roll the best he ever tasted.
What? It *was* delicious, a melange of chicken, pork,
vegetables, and some spice which I've never
encountered in an egg roll before. The "Philly
Cheesesteak" would be laughed out of Jim's or Pat's.
Except that it was terrific: sliced thicker than the
"real thing," medium-rare (!) slices of decent beef,
with sauteed onions/green peppers and remarkably real
cheese. What's not to like?

And the bread pudding? Excellent. I've made fun of
friends who raved about Steve Wynn's Mom's bread
pudding (served at all the Mirage/Golden
Nugget/Treasure Island restaurants). No more
snobbishness from me. This b.p., featuring
substantial bread, a soft hand with the cinnamon,
bourbon sauce, an unfortunate piece of sweetened apple
or two, was a capper for a downright decent meal.

So, in short, I survived.

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