Over the weekend the gf and I took a trip up Hwy 395 to Mono Lake. We stopped for dinner along the way at the Still Life Cafe in Independence right on 395. Was that ever a surprise. We loved it. It is run by a French couple who have been in the country for a long time and have been running a restaurant in the area for about 16 years. We shared a large salad that was great - super fresh and a good variety of vegetables with a near perfect simple vinaigrette. The baguette and butter were also excellent. The gf had one of the specials of the day - a lamb shank braised with white beans, some tomatoes, garlic and other seasonings. It was perfect, very much like one would find in a neighborhood bistro in France. I had the steak frites in a red wine - shallot reduction that were likewise. The husband - the wife does the cooking - suggested a simple, inexpensive red wine from the southwest of France that was delicious. It was nothing fancy but I would have been happy with the same meal here in L.A. and even for a simple dinner in France.
The next day we went over Tioga Pass to Yosemite for the day - the gf had a friend who was working there. We ate lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel - the classic old lodge in the Valley. The dining room is spectacular, well-worth seeing. We just had burgers and they were excellent, which they needed to be as they were $18 each. The garlic fries that came with them were also excellent.
That night we had dinner in Lee Vining - at Mono Lake - at the highly recommended Mobil Station - the Tioga Gas Mart and Whoa Nellie Deli. It was good for a gas station restaurant but nowhere near as extraordinary as we'd been led to believe. (Apparently the founding chef has moved on to his own restaurant at Mammoth.) We shared a huge salad which would have been alright if it wasn't absolutely swimming in a truly awful raspberry vinaigrette - the only form of vinaigrette they had. (If you go there and want a salad, go for the blue cheese or ranch or just get bottles of oil and vinegar. The girlfriend had a good - not great but good - and enormous t-bone steak with fries. I had very smoky and pretty good - but nothing I'd go out of my way for in the future - meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Both entrees came with shredded squash of some sort that was actually pretty decent. The whole works, with a couple of beers, came to around $70 - which by gas station standards is rather high.