By Antoinette May Herndon
Once in awhile you really can have it both ways. The historic Dorrington Hotel located high in the Sierras close to Ebbets Pass offers one of those rare opportunities.
First off, you’ve got the ambience of the hotel itself. Situated at the easternmost edge of Calaveras County, the hostelry oozes Gold Rush history. The surroundings are gorgeous: acres of pine grove, a centuries-old sugar pine, rolling meadows and mountain peaks.
Small wonder the inn is said to be haunted by its first owner Rebecca Gardner who simply loved the place so much in life that she refused to check out—ever. More about her at a later date. Suffice it to say now that Rebecca and her husband, John, arrived on the scene in 1852.
“This is the place!” one of them undoubtedly said. After a brief (or not so brief) exchange a stagecoach stop went up log by log on what would become the hotspot of the Big Trees-Carson Valley Road.
Over the years the hotel served as a depot for stockmen as well as a summer resort for wealthy easterners and Europeans visiting the giant sequoia redwoods. If those walls could only talk . .
Who knows, maybe they can but diners at the hotel’s 1852 Restaurant are too thrilled with their food to pay attention.
The wonderful news
is that the Dorrington’s new owners are foodies from way back, Marc and Dana Lanthier. Many will remember Marc from the fabulous Auberge 1899 in Murphys. ‘Nuff said?
Marc’s back with a vengeance. The 1852 is a no holds barred restaurant, a place to go to for a true celebration. Charles and I really got into it on a recent Saturday night celebrating our big 7 anniversary just one mo time.
I started off with Escargot Bourgogne. ($10.95) Like mountain climber are want to say, “I did it because it was there.” Escargot has been an almost lifetime favorite of mine, but you these days you rarely see it on the menu. I seized the moment and wasn’t disappointed.
Charles watched with amazement as I sopped up that rich garlic butter sauce. He’s not in to eating snails but was more than happy with the super crisp salad that went with our entrees. “It was the freshest salad you could ever hope for,” he opined and I agree.
Charles chose the 1852 Surf and Turf which included the restaurant’s famous “Big Ass” Shrimp and a 6 oz. Filet Mignon. ($34.95)
I went with the house special that night Veal Rib Chop. ($34.95) It was “just” the great veal of my entire life.
The piece de resistance of the evening was the crème brulee that we shared for dessert. ($7.95) Absolutely the greatest.
Now admittedly, this was a sumptuous
dinner. Believe me, we don’t mortgage the farm every night. But anniversaries are special occasions and the Dorrington is an event kind of place.
Still I started out with the promise that you really can have it both ways.
Right next door to the Dorrington, part of the property and also owned by Dan and Marc is the Lube Room. Now the Lube Room is not quite so pizzazzi as the Dorrington but still has its own history. Time passes so fast, that 1977 is getting more historic all the time.
The Lube Room has its own story. Yes, it really was a garage. In fact the car hoist was located exactly where the pool table is now. The Lube Room’s walls and ceilings are covered with memorabilia that speaks for itself.
This is a lively friendly place where you can get excellent burgers, (7.95) big angus beef, charbroiled and never frozen, good drinks and listen to good ol’ jukebox music in a relaxed atmosphere.
Both restaurants have lots to offer in different ways and each has a memory building potential.
Vitals: 1852 Restaurant and Lube Room share the address 3431 Highway 4, Dorrington. Phone: 795-1140. The Lube Room is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.—10 on weekends. Dinner is served at the 1852 restaurant on Friday and Saturday evenings from to 10. Reservations are strongly suggested. Credit cards accepted at both restaurants.