Gold Pan Saloon & Cafe -- Thimgs change and improve
Sierra Lodestar 12/12/10

Foothill Flavors Jackson’s New Kid of the Block

by Antoinette May

It’s fun to watch things morph. Like caterpillars into butterflies or tadpoles into magic frogs.

The Gold Pan Saloon & Grill in Jackson is a case in point. To say they are still “shaking down” is putting it mildly. Still, there’s a lot enthusiasm in evidence, not to mention some good food.

I was sorry when the Bonanza closed. In my naïve newcomer days, it seemed so Mother Lode. Charles and I played the newly wed game there often savoring our macho steaks, dancing to country music on the hardwood floor.

I’ve gazed wistfully at the old building on Main Street for several years but only recently have seen signs of life. Suddenly there was talk of a gourmet restaurant opening there. Lila and Mike Moran, Mok Hill’s café society couple, had heard the same scuttlebutt. Fabulous Caesar salads, steak smothered in bleu cheese, etc.

Of course, we had to find out for ourselves. So on a recent Sunday night we headed for the newly opened Gold Pan Saloon & Grill. Well, let me tell you right off, those foodies who spoke ecstatically of epicurean delights had it wrong. They were confused and must have been talking about some other place.

The Gold Pan is what it is: a short order house. And even that’s a work in progress.

The first thing that happened that night was

that we all got shorted on our drinks. Very stingy martini for me, lots of water for the others with very little scotch. That’s not so good for openers, literally puts a bad taste in your mouth.

We waited a long time for our food, but finally it came--except that mine wasn’t included. The waitress had forgotten to place the order. Another long wait.

Now I’ll tell you the good stuff. Mike ordered a 24 oz. T-bone Steak. ($27.95) It was huge and cooked just the way he liked it. It must have been, he ate every bite.

Charles had an 8 oz. chicken fried steak ($15.95) and was well pleased.

Now here’s the clincher: Lila and I each ordered the 8 oz. top sirloin steak ($13.95). Lila wanted hers medium. I requested mine mooing. We both got exactly what we ordered.

With our dinners we each had a large baked potato, excellent garlic bread and a choice of soup or salad. Charles’s salad had all the trimmings; my smoky bean soup was excellent.

Obviously the evening ended on a better note than it began. Charles and I noted on the menu that on Saturdays and Sundays, the Gold Pan offers a one drink, one dish menu featuring the Bloody Larry Special for $9.99. We decided to come back and try it.

As opposed to the miniscule martini, our bloody marys at brunch were huge; but, as it turned out the massive glasses contained very little

vodka and an awful lot of extremely spicy tomato juice. Still it was a refreshing drink. A slightly naughty way to launch a Saturday. The bacon, egg and cheese sandwich was a little on the light side too, but at least we didn’t feel over-indulged.

In case you’re wondering, the Gold Pan has inherited the the Bonanza’s great old bar and as far as can tell the décor also remains unchanged. Same old pictures, lively atmosphere and country western music.

We talked briefly to Brendan Pulskamp who introduced himself as the owner. He’s full of passion for the bistro’s potential, has plans for a new expanded menu, and a “big” of opening in the early spring. “This is just the beginning,” he assured me. “Wait and see the great things we’re going to do.

Well, just so long as he keeps getting the steaks right.

VITALS: The Gold Pan Saloon & Grill. 835 North Main, Jackson. Phone: 257-1445. Hours: Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Credit cards accepted.


Melisa Dunkle is a server at the newly opened Gold Pan Saloon & Grill in Jackson.

The Gold Pan Saloon & Grill in Jackson draws a lively crowd.

Bloody Marys are a specialty weekend mornings at the Gold Pan Saloon & Grill in Jackson.

The bar at the Gold Pan Saloon & Grill in Jackson draws a lively crowd.