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Lake Tahoe report (North Shore)

PolarBear | Jul 31, 200509:38 PM

Week before last headed up to Granlibakken resort just south of Tahoe City where my dear wife was attending a workshop. Arrived Wed. in time for a late lunch and headed for the restaurant at the Sunnyside Resort and Lodge, mainly to avoid the heavy traffic heading the other way into Tahoe City.

Place was still packed around 1:30pm but within 5 min. or so we were seated at a nice shady table as requested at the edge of the deck overlooking the lake. Lady PB ordered a cheeseburger and I went with the fish (halibut) sandwich. Burger was thick and tasty, appeared to be hand formed and there were two generous slabs of fresh halibut on my sand that were cooked perfectly. Fries were browned sufficiently, crispy and not greasy. I tried a couple of the white wines BTG (sorry can't recall) that were decent enough. Considering how busy they were the service was pretty good, believe the total was just over $30 pre tax/tip. Usually, when we have a view this good we don't expect much from the food, but here we were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed a leisurely two hour lunch.

That evening, again with me not wanting to get back in the car any longer than necessary, ended up at Wolfdale's in TC for a sunset seating at 7:30. I'd called earlier inquiring about the menu and arranged to get one of the two tables on the end of the deck. Upon arrival found there had been a "miscommunication" and those tables were both occupied but there would be another available on the deck shortly. The hostess comped us two glasses of a decent champagne to make up for it. Again a nice view of the lake and mountains along the south shore and Nevada side through the pines. We started with the Soft Shell Crab Tempura style with a teriyaki dipping sauce (13.5), very tasty and tender, but small. She ordered the Halibut with Pot Stickers in a Green Curry broth (27) that she was very happy with. I had the Paella (28) which was disappointing in several ways. Again the portion size was small, think shallow, dinner size soup bowl. The few pieces of meat and shellfish were OK but it didn't resemble any paella I've ever had, more of a rice soup (that had never heard of saffron) in a tomatoey broth that was rather acidic. I believe Lady PB was glad that she had not agreed to share dishes this evening. Total was around $83 pre-tip.

Thursday evening we hit Spindleshanks in Tahoe Vista. I had my heart set on the Poke Ahi Spindle (12) which I thought was described as a stack but came in a chilled martini glass. We didn't feel the ahi was as fresh as it should of been and my wife got a number of pieces with membrane in them, portion was also on the small side. She ordered the sea scallops wrapped in salmon on a bed of fennel and a turnip pancake with a beurre blanc and caper sauce (22). The scallops were good size but didn't seem to have a lot of flavor. When we traded dishes I removed the salmon since it had become leathery in the cooking process and the dark spot that you see in the middle of the sliced packaged lox hadn't been removed which ruins the taste for me. The turnip cake, fennel and sauce were all tasty. The Rack of Lamb (28) that I ordered med-rare came out rare and consisted of four small, thin single cut ribs. Again, not much flavor to them. I opted for the wine flight (10 for 3 2.5 oz pours) of which there were several offerings of whites and reds. (regular BTG was around 8.00 for 6 oz) Mine included a pedestrian Pinot Noir (Estancia), a Zin that went OK with the lamb, and an Aussie Shiraz that turned out to be the best of the three after sitting til the end of the meal. Total pre tip was $94.

Friday, our last day before heading home, we made the drive to Incline Village and went to Le Bistro across from the Hyatt. Dinners are $41 prix fixe for 5 courses or you can order dishes individually. We both started with the Potato, Spinach and Chive soup (option was a fresh Tomato Bisque, 4.25 suppl.) which was good. Second course she had a wild mushroom struddle with balsamic reduction which I managed a small bite of and was outstanding, I had the fresh anchovies on white beans with a basil sauce, the fish had a nice clean taste and the beans nice and tender. We both had asparagus for the third course but I opted for the white which was another supplement (@4.50 IIRC). Both were OK, nothing special. We shared main courses of Rack of Lamb prepared with mustard and mint and the Tournedos of Beef in a Cabernet reduction. The lamb was three double cut ribs, cooked perfectly med-rare, with the flavor that was lacking the previous evening. The beef was two small pieces of tenderloin but cooked rare as requested and the sauce quite good. She ordered the dessert plate of mango creme brulee, tiramisu, apricot tart, a puff pastry, and one other item that I don't recall. All were small 1-2 bite portions, I did get a taste of the first two and they were very good. I had the cheese plate of a manchego, brie and another semi-hard that I don't recall (gouda?), all pleasant. I also had the wine pairings with the courses (30) but didn't get the names of the wines, the one that stood out was a Bordeaux that I almost asked to substitute another for, turned out to be the hit of the night. Believe the total pre-tip was @$130.

I can't help but wonder if I'm missing something here. Beyond the obvious, i.e. higher prices and smaller portions (to be expected in remote resort areas), the usual cases of hit and miss dishes or off nights, none of the cuisine really grabbed us. I've always experienced an increased appetite while up in the mountains but now wonder if it is specific to more of a comfort food, back to the basics? For example, I stopped into the Old Post Office in Carnelian Bay to get a menu, place appeared to be packed from open til close at 2 PM. While the deck at Sunnyside was more of a "scene" the smell of the food (breakfasts and lunch) and look of enjoyment on the crowd's faces here made for a much more appetizing ambiance.

I guess what I'd like to know from the hounds is would we have fared better by trying Soule Domain, GarWoods, Grahms, or driving to Cottonwood in Truckee? If not, I think in the future we'll get a place with a kitchen and dine in more frequently.

BTW, a previous poster wondered if Swiss Lakewood in Homewood is still open, it is but their menu seemed even a little more pricey than Wolfdale's and a couple of the more interesting menu items (fondue, raclette) are only available in the cool season. I called one night to ask about the specials and told that evening was halibut, nothing else.

Oh yes, one other nice surprise, found a supply of JanKris Crossfire (Cab-Syrah-Zin) at the little market near Sunnyside for $11.

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