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San Francisco Bay Area

Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites

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Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites

Fatemeh | Aug 5, 2002 01:57 PM

As a 'hound, I'm often hard-pressed to take dinner in the dining room of a hotel or B&B. This weekend, after a beautiful, spontaneous drive up to Mendocino, we lucked into a cancellation at the Mendocino Inn, so decided to stay.

After walking around town for a bit, we decided to call it an early evening, have dinner at the hotel and relax in front of the fire. As it turned out, it was a fine choice.

The Victorian dining room at the hotel is a beautifully appointed, serenely lit room. Servers speak in hushed tones and tables are set far enough apart to allow for intimate conversation. What a treat after the hub-bub of city restaurants.

We ordered a bottle of Seghesio Zinfandel (one of my favorite producers), well-priced at $34. The only downfall of the evening were the $.50 wine glasses that were available - our server looked at me like i was crazy when i asked her to leave the "white wine" glasses for the zin instead of the big balloon glasses.

We started with the French Onion soup and the Bruschetta. The soup was ALMOST perfect, except that I like mine heavy on the cheese. But the broth was savory and flavorful, and not too salty. The bruschetta was, in a word, divine. It was served in a very unique way - the toast points were reminiscent of focaccia, but much lighter. Toasted in butter, they were simply perfect. These were served alongside two vine-ripe grilled tomatoes, stuffed with Point Reyes blue cheese and roasted garlic. A wonderful combination of flavors, both sweet and savory.

For entrees, we ordered the prime rib and the filet. I was tempted by the lamb chops, but had just eaten lamb the night before and... well, prime rib is one of my weaknesses. The PR was served on the rare side of "medium-rare", which was fine by me. A wonderful, juicy cut with delectable creamy horseradish. The accompanying baked potatoes were actually two yukon golds (again, my favorite); glaceed baby carrots and corn were simply prepared but fresh, crisp and flavorful.

The filet was also a wonderful cut - quite a large one, too. Served with carmelized shallots and mushroom demi-glace. I only got two bites of this as i was pretty much involved with my Prime Rib.

Side note - before dinner, we'd taken a walk down to the water and stumbled upon a large berry patch. First we though they were blackberries, but later discovered they were ollalieberries. Anyone who knows me will tell you i'm addicted to berry season, and will eat them by the pint or bushel - so the 5 berries i got off that bush only whetted my appetite. So, when i found out that their specialty is an ollalieberry deep dish pie, i was sold. An awesome dessert. Big, plump, fresh berries, in all their juicy goodness, in a crust of phyllo, with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream topped off by a lightly glazed phyllo top. This was just heavenly, and light enough not to leave me feeling weighed down. Really truly special.

It was a treat to find this place, and be able to stumble into the fireplace salon and relax in the beautiful surroundings after such a wonderful meal.

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