Sutter Creek Palace
76 Main Street
Sutter Creek, CA 95685
Francisco is a great city. There is a vast selection of restaurants, countless
number of bars, and heaps of free-wheeling folks that seemingly offer unlimited
recreation. But when an opportunity presents itself to leave, I seize the
day and bolt. On one of my recent absences from our versatile city I retreated
with visiting out-of-state family to Amador County in the Western foothills
of the Sierra Nevada. Highway 49 meanders through this romantic area where
youíll find historic hotels restored as bed and breakfasts, and youíll encounter
fine modern dining establishments. On a Monday night we stayed at the St.
George Hotel (built in 1862) in a sleepy town called Volcano. The hotel
restaurant was closed, but we didnít go hungry. The owner of the St. George
recommended we try Sutter Creek Palace located just a few miles away in
Sutter Creek Palace is a rustic building on Main Street. Itís easy to find because Highway 49 slices through the middle of Sutter Creek and becomes Main Street for a few blocks. I didnít bother to inquire about the history because by appetizer time I really didnít care about the past. I was in the present savoring mushrooms stuffed with a three-cheese prosciutto filling and doused in a veal stock sauce that tasted of brown sugar. Then a large bowl Ė large enough to take out back and pan for gold Ė landed before me and I spooned myself into a gold-bearing vein of soup. It was a three bean strike: Italian white, kidney, and garbonzo. Sprinkled with a handful of grated cheese the minestrone reminded me of chili. It seemed odd that I was eating minestrone, but tasting and thinking chili. I was about as perplexed and joyful as a placer miner espying glitter in the bottom of a stream for the first time. Appetizers range from $5.95 up to $7.95.
The minestrone-chili feeling returned when I chewed into a chunk of bread I had nonchalantly plucked out of a large basket on the table. I expected the bread to be hot, but it wasnít. The same expression came over the face of another family member. We thought and felt the same taste-bud confusion. As soon as the chewing stopped our curious discoveries were respectively shared. "This bread is cold, but fresh and good!" A waitress assured us the bread was baked locally that day. As this splendid taste bud confusion unfolded at our table two of the finest mixed green, hand tossed salads with honey mustard dressing were placed on the table and expeditiously savored to the very last leaf with cold bread in hand.
While discussing our bread findings I washed my gums with a few glasses of Henry Weinhards on tap. One thing Sutter Creek Palace doesnít have is that long list of local, state, federal, and international micro-brew beers. Frankly, I was relieved that I didnít have to wade through a list of award winning home brew. If youíre an on-tap, micro brew type of personality Sutter Creek Palace will not please you. However, the wine list is the Mother-Lode. It features an extensive collection of wine produced at regional wineries. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by such a crucial decision I let the waitress select a deep and mysterious merlot to go with my Pepper Steak.
The Pepper Steak was graciously covered with nuggets of pepper, slices of mushroom, and topped off with a burgundy sauce. My glass of dark purplish-red merlot was so complimentary to the pepper steak that I thought it was fermented in accordance with some ancient steak laws. Roasted potatoes and steamed vegetables completed the entree. I was exceptionally pleased with the meat. The family ordered a couple of lamb shanks, also topped off with burgundy sauce, and a pasta shrimp special. Lamb shanks were raved about (I watched the meat fall right off the bone.), pasta shrimp special produced very little enthusiasm. The entrée menu is extensive and should please just about all walks of life with pasta, seafood, poultry, and meat. Prices range from Calamari at $12.95 up to Shrimp Scampi at $17.95.
Things were settling down at the table, so I ordered up a tumbler of Glen Fiddich -Sutter Creek Palace has a full bar! All were full and unable to venture into the realm of dessert until the waitress mentioned cheese cake with blueberries. Two of us agreed to share one piece. It was a rich dessert relished at a leisure pace. Reposing at our table in satiation we all agreed that Sutter Creek Palace was a fine recommendation from the folks at the St. George Hotel.
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