Banny's- His Honor lays down the law
Sierra Lodestar 07/07/10


By Antoinette May Herndon

I trust Sally Tuttle. When she says a restaurant is good. I believe it. After all, she’s married to a judge. Judges have to be fair, don’t they? That’s what they’re known for, the kind of Solomon thing they do. Judges are honest and impartial.

The old “what is truth?” question loomed large as we discussed a proposed brunch at Banny’s in Sonora. Sally and Dick have been dining at Banny’s for ages, but the restaurant was new to Charles and me.

Just for fun I googled Banny’s to read the personal dining experiences of past and present patrons. The results were surprising to say the least. The food was bad, the service worse, some said. Bummer! That sounded pretty disheartening.

On the other hand there were some other customers who gave Banny’s six stars placing it in the superlative category.

After further scrutiny it appeared that half the comments were extremely enthusiastic, the other half equally derogatory.

It’s a long, long trail a winding from Mok Hill to Sonora, but also a glorious, shimmering summer day. Charles and I were eager for a long awaited outing with the Tuttles. A little element of mysterious uncertainty added to the fun. We were about to find out for ourselves, settle the question once and for all.

I can’t say it was exactly do or die. The fact that Sally and Dick liked Banny’s very much, had been there many

times, took a lot of the risk out of my fact finding mission. Still, the Tuttles hadn’t been there in quite awhile . . . and even the best of places can change.

The four of us set off on a recent Sunday morning only to discover that Banny’s was no longer at its long time down town Sonora location. It seems that six months ago Rob and Rosetta Bannwarth lost their lease and had just 30 days to find and settle in to a new home.

Banny’s new setting, the Mountain Springs Country Club, seems an ideal venue. Think wide expansive views of hills and valleys and even a small lake.

The new Banny’s has an inviting ambience with a lively and attractive cocktail bar adjacent to the entrance. In the large dining room just beyond, a beigy peach and deep forest green color scheme predominates. Very relaxing.

Currently, whimsical metal sculpture by Kathleen and Richard Imlach of Steel Dog Metalworks accents the walls, but patrons can look forward to a new art exhibit each month.

Linsey Bannwarth, the owners’ pretty young daughter, was our server. “I’ve been running around Banny’s since I was three,” she told us. (That would be twenty long years ago.)

Linsey was a thoughtful and intuitive server who kept us supplied with a steady supply of champagne, Chandon blanc et noir—my very favorite— throughout the meal. On the house too! A very festive Sunday morning.

We began our brunch

by splitting a spinach salad ($13). It was made up of pancetta, sweet onion, egg and brie cheese—a piquant mingling of flavors. The sherry mustard vinaigrette dressing was a perfect accompaniment.

Sally’s brunch choice was the crab cakes, pan-seared with artichoke aioli on a spring mix salad. ($13.50) She gave Banny’s a hearty vote of approval.

Charles voted for the croissant French toast, an egg-dipped pastry, pan-seared with banana foster topping, an elegant breakfast choice if there ever was one. ($12)

But Dick and I were the real winners. Our mutual choice was the menu’s highlight, New Zealand lamb chops. Yum! Those tender goodies were grilled to perfection in a cabernet sauce and then placed on a bed of parmesan soft polenta. ($15)

Our Banny’s jury weighed in 4 to 0 in favor. Brunch was definitely a winner in our court. And guess what, the judge was on our side.

VITALS: Banny’s is at 17566 Lime Kiln Rd, in Sonora’s Mountain Springs Golf Course. Phone: 533-4709. / Hours: Monday through Saturday, lunch from 11 a.m. to 3. Sunday brunch 10 to 2. Friday dinner, 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations advisable. Credit cards accepted.


Linsey Bannowarth serves Sally Tuttle at family restaurant Banny’s

The interior of Banny’s in Sonora is warm and inviting.

Banny’s bar is lively and engaging.