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North Shore Tahoe July '04 (long)

Fine | Aug 18, 200408:17 PM

I hope this is still the right board for North Shore (Tahoe).

Though it's been only three weeks, we went to the midwest after our Tahoe sojourn and memory has begun to fade, so this will not be a detailed report, just snapshots (remember those?!).

Spindelshank's (Tahoe Vista) food seemed improved over the past couple of years but "service" by a startlingly overbearing and argumentative friend "helping out" his buddy the owner ruined the evening. Very good and generous--if not all sustainable--smoked fish plate, good buffalo steak remain in my memory. BH's gourmet chile relleno-plus would have been very good too if not served tepid. Complimentary desserts to compensate for latter lapse were very good--a fruit pastry topped with fruit crisp ingredients and some sort of Bavarian cream thing.

Neigborhing Boulevard's food--contrary to the tendency elsewhere to over salt--was hospital-bland; too bad, because it's a cute, hideaway sort of spot.

Le Bistro in Incline remains our standard for excellence in dining, period. (I was unaware till I read this in one of Melanie Wong's posts there was a rule about acknowledging acquaintance with restaurateurs; having been customers of Jean Pierre Doignon, chef-owner, since his days at late, great La Cheminee, we are indeed friendly acquaintances.)

Petite Pier was offering the highly endangered Chilean Seabass as one of its specials, so I declined to spend my money there.

Wild Goose (Tahoe Vista)--though gorgeous and offering an ambitious menu--is not at all ready for prime time. We were sent off to admire the view of the lake and forgotten and had to track down the host to finally be seated even though half the tables were empty, and unexplained time lags between courses were simply unacceptable. From what we heard, this is either the flagship of a projected series of places or somehow connected to a time-share enterprise; whatever it is, given the high prices, it should really get its act together before attempting to pass itself off as a dinner house. (Although I generally can recall details of meals going back years, really bad service experiences seem to erase everything else. I know I had CK Farms Lamb for $32, which consisted of tiny offerings of several different parts of the lamb prepared in different ways, all pretty good except for a dried-out and uninviting braised section in a separate stew pot. The lamb selections came on a series of different plates fitted into a tray--every time I set a untensil down, it went flying!)

Moody's in Truckee also has an ambitious menu served in a series of funky rooms--from a bar with live music to an adjoining plainish dining room to a covered outdoor space. I liked the fact that most items included provenance, was surprised to see Provimi veal in an area populated by many environmentally and otherwise sensitive folks (the newborn calves are kept tethered to their mothers throughout their short lives to maintain "whiteness"; once this became commonly known--at least a decade ago--no self-respecting restaurateur in the SFBA included this item on a menu again), and put off by what I think of as the prime indicator of amateur cooks--far too many additions, garnishes, and, most of all, sauces per plate. That said, I enjoyed my salmon chowder with unnecessary and not very good braised leek crepe; my BH loved the very rich and very large housemade charcuterie plate and the Niman Ranch grilled pork chop with tasty sweet potato fritters and more, and I was content with my wild king salmon with potato puree, roast baby bok choy, and carrot ginger sauce. Prices reflect expensive ingredients--they're pretty high for Truckee. It will beinteresting to see if this kitchen can retain staff and continue to purchase the many high-end ingredients necessary to fulfill the promise of its very ambitious and lengthy menu.

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