Promised to report back on dinner in Big Bear after getting a bunch of recs here last week. While the overall opinion was that there was precious little of any consequence to choose from, there were a few strong recs.
It was interesting that the two main recs I was pursuing were thumbed-down by the desk clerk at the Best Western Chateau (where we stayed the one night). Paoli's was described as "horrible", and The Barnstorm Cafe was called "way over-priced for not much". But Barnstorm had been recomended twice here and then a third time by a friend.... so we gave it a try.
It's a very small place, that sits inside a building at the Lake Arrowhead Airport, and the view is of a portion of the runway. Only one other table seated at 7PM on a Thursday. Pleasant and courteous server, though it was the first time I'd ever been told that the server couldn't offer any info as to what a special item, "Imperial Crab", was because she hadn't tasted it. Maybe the chef was not there???
Our friends had brought a bottle of Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red with them and they had no problem with a $10 corkage fee 'offer' from my friend. (Very good cab blend if you ever have the opportunity.)
Basic small green salads were followed by nicely presented entrees. Two had Beef Stroganoff over bowtie pasta, and I had Hungarian Goulash, which turned out to be essentially the same dish with a different sauce. Well prepared but nothing really special ($13.95, I think). The fourth entree was a rib-eye, which was rated as "OK". At $18.95 ,maybe it should have been a bit better.
Dessert was a large brownie piled high with good vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate fudge. Four spoons, please! It was good...... the server said she enjoys preparing that item.
All in all The Barnstorm Cafe was pretty good for a summer evening at Big Bear Lake. Not anything really special, but not disappointing either. Really not fair, anyway, because we didn't dine anywhere else to compare with. Hadn't seen these friend in almost three years, so the evening was mostly about the company anyway.
BTW...... the hotel desk highly recommended The Captain's Anchorage, but it was open only for reservations due to 'graduation' (the local HS, I presume).
The surprise came the next morning. The same hotel desk recommended Grizzly Manor, a hole-in-the-wall place down the main road. We should have remembered that just about every ski resort has a place like this. Small, crowded, stickers all over the walls, table right on top of the waffle irons, line outside most of the morning . This is definitely the place to go for breakfast. Waffles and berries were terrific. Eggs up, w/bacon and biscuits+gravy were wonderful. My friend's 'two friend eggs and bacon came with two pancakes that measured an easy 14" across and were 1/2" thick. They didn't flop over the sides of the plate for long. Good thing I don't live near by....... too much cholesterol..... but a 'must' on a ski vacation.