Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Gnome

On a cold Tuesday night we decided not to cook. We agreed to venture into town and see what caught our eye. What do we want? Pizza? Chinese? Gyros? What? As soon as we parked we saw it. We walked passed it many a times on our weekend town walks with the dog, but never made the trek inside. Lovingly known as "The Gnome" to locals and Restaurant Gastrognome to everyone else we both agreed that this was our dinner place of choice.

We leaped arm in arm over the piled up snow on the curb and clunked up the covered wood plank walkway. If it were a nice summer night we could imagine dozens of people on the outdoor front patio. Many intimate sitting areas evoke much socializing, we presume. After admiring the exterior venue, we made our way inside.

What a cozy delightful place. We were immediately greeted by the Maitre d'. Since it was only turning 5pm we were given our choice of any table. Would it be the large dining room with the stone fireplace to the right or the smaller intimate room to the left? We chose the latter. We took the table directly in front of the retro pipe fireplace, a perfect table for two. Having a few moments to take in the atmosphere we couldn't help but notice the miniature door-like windows that lined one wall of the room. At any moment we thought a mythical gnome would scurry in with a freshly baked wild mushroom pie. Not sure where that came from, it just sounds good, doesn't it? The thought awakened our appetite.

Our petite server came just at the right time to introduce herself and take our drink order. A nice local Pinot Noir for the gentleman and a not-so-exciting Diet Coke for the lady. Two glasses of water and a hot basket of assorted bread with butter accompanied. The dark sort of peasant bread was especially delicious. By the time our drinks arrived the room became quite full with visitors and locals. Our server was busy but attentive to our needs.

Our eyes glazed over with the delicious possibilities on the menu. Would it be cioppino, grilled halibut, lamb, pork or any number of cuts of beef? They all sounded equally delightful. It was tough but we first agreed upon an appetizer of Calamari. Dredged in egg and seasoned breadcrumbs, then sauteed. It came not in the usual little ringlets one is used to, but a gigantic fillet. It was perfectly succulent and tender and served with this intensely concentrated tomato relish. It was served with a second condiment, but the tomato one was so fantastic, we now forget what it was.

On to our main course decisions.

Because it was such a bone-chilling night, we were not in the mood for a cold salad. But we have our eyes on the Caesar Salad for next time.

G decided on the Pepper Steak. A nice sized filet minion sauteed, then served with a brandy-peppercorn sauce. It was a gorgeous piece of meat and it melted in our mouths. The sauce glistened rich with brandy and whole peppercorns throughout. The sides were creamy garlic mashed potatoes and nicely steamed asparagus. The spears were on the large side, but they were surprisingly tender and flavorful.

R decided on the scallops and salmon wrapped in bacon. Mmmm bacon – We believe it's the best food on earth! The seafood nuggets blanketed in heaven came on skewers. A crispy, salty, smoky outside with a perfectly cooked scallop or salmon piece in the center. A fantastic combination. The portion was 3 scallops and 2 nuggets of salmon. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it was quite satisfying. The sides were a buttery rice pilaf with the same asparagus spears we mentioned above. Fantastic!

Well, to top off our delicious entrees and the holiday season, we decided to share a dessert. Again the options all sounded equally delightful but we settled on the slice of pecan pie with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and two rich cups of coffee with cream. The slightly warmed pie had a nice homemade flaky crust and the amount of pecans were bountiful in the not-too-sweet filling. A hearty ending to a perfect leisurely dinner.

Restaurant Gastrognome
54381 Ridgeview Drive
Idyllwild, CA 92549
www.gastrognome.com (view their online sample menu)

Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Monday-Saturday 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner: Nightly from 5:00pm
Sunday Brunch: 11:00am-2:30pm
Fine Dining, Chef Specialties, Full Bar

1 comment:

  1. Finally read this one, and I still love the way you write. Your description of even walking TO the restaurant is well-written and paints a lovely, wintery picture.

    Oh, and the food sounds good too. Never seen calamari served that way, and it's been far too long since I've had scallops with bacon. Love that!

    Don't get me started on that peasant bread. Or dark bread. Or squaw bread. I still don't know what it is when I go to a restaurant, but it's my favorite kind of bread to get at dinner.