By Antoinette May Herndon
When people tell me things, I listen. And for some time now, I’ve been getting these rave emails about a restaurant in Sonora. Jeb’s Hill Country Cookin’are the buzz words. “Just wait till you’ve had breakfast there.:You have just got to go there for breakfast” was the basic message.
Now I want you to know that breakfast is a big deal to me. Think about it: the first meal of the rest of our lives, etc. In my own case, I got lucky in that respect. My husband, Charles, is a dynamite breakfast chef. He’s his own man in the kitchen, too, doesn’t want any help (or interference) from anyone. I never have to lift so much as a pancake turner.
But sometimes even the most dedicated cook wants a little down. That’s how it was with Charles one recent Sunday morning. What better time to check out that place in Sonora that was generating so much buzz. The time had come to see and taste for ourselves just what hill country cookin’ was all about?
The first peek inside was positive. I knew right away that I liked the looks of Jeb’s. Ambience really counts with me and Jeb’s Hill Country Cookin’ surely has it.
I was instantly charmed by the décor. The old style eatery might easily be described as Early Hokey. Think knotty pine wainscoting. Outdoorsy wallpaper accented by leafy pinecones and
red piracantha berries. I liked the log cabin siding, cowboy paintings, the lanterns and saddles hanging from the ceiling. There was a pleasant intimacy to the partially enclosed booths—reminiscent of tiny cabins.
Whoever thought this up had a lot of imagination. I suppose “whoever” is the corporate decorator hired by Dick Brooks, the multi millionaire owner from the Valley who opened the Jeb’s two years ago. She or he had a fanciful feel for the job that translated to fun for the customer. For me, it was love at first sight.
Of course, you can’t eat the furniture, as Charles often reminds me. The proof still lies in the tasting. I accepted the menu eagerly from Sheri Busalacchi who would be our server. It was a whimsical listing with such offerings as High Country Platter, Gold Pan Scrambles and Hen House Benedicts. Everything looked good. How to choose?
After much deliberation I finally settled on blueberry crepes and sausage. ($6.95) Absolutely delicious! I can not wait to go back for more. Charles is the laconic type— think John Wayne, if your memory goes back that far—still, he was equally delighted with his strawberry waffle ($6.95) with a side of bacon ($2.95)
Everything about the breakfast was a treat: food, service, atmosphere. I’d say price too.
Happily, there’s more to come. Jeb’s serves a great lunch with a variety of “Butcher Block Sandwiches.”
They range in price from pulled pork at $7.95 to the trail blazer, a char-fired 8 oz. New York steak served open- faced on a cheese toasted French roll. ($9.95) My own favorite is also the “Rustler’s Favorite,” shaved roast beef tossed with grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms on a Parmesan- grilled French roll. Yes, it has it’s own au jus dipping.
Two other luncheon favorites are Jeb’s slow cooked “Whiskey Creek” chili and golden cheddar with potatoes and cream. ($6.95) The menu says “dang good soup” and I’m here to say it doesn’t lie.
Barbecued ribs ($12.50) highlight the dinner menu but there are also pastas, stir fry platters, fish and chips, and barbecued shrimp, chicken and tri tips. Wine by the glass and bottled beer are available at $3. Cinnamon Apple Brown Betty is a diet buster dessert but delicious. “Let she who has not sinned, cast the first . . .” Sometimes it’s really worth it. Just how perfect do you really want to be?
People in Sonora are so lucky! They can go to Jeb’s Hill Country Cookin’ three times a day if they feel like it. How sweet to have that option because Jeb’s is a real feel good, taste good place. We can hardly wait to go back.
VITALS: Jeb’s Hill Country Cookin’ is located at 729 Mono Way, Sonora. Phone: 588-9633. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Open daily. Credit Cards accepted.