Here’s for the Ladies Who Lunch
By Antoinette May Herndon
Ok, so the broomsticks are back in the closet, the masks tucked away. Halloween is barely a memory and everybody’s talking turkey.
Allow me to push back on the holidays for a moment and tell you about a fun affair that occurred on a Thursday afternoon in October. Hopefully, this will become an annual event. Check it out and mark your new 2013 calendar!
Early last month while gathering information for a column on Stanley’s Steakhouse, the newly opened bistro in Jackson’s National Hotel, I noticed a flyer announcing that Stanley’s was offering a “Witches Luncheon” each Thursday in October. It was suggested that attendees wear fancy hats.
Did that sound like a cool way to spend an afternoon? I guess! Right that very minute I rushed to reserve a table. Was I surprised! It turned out that the first three Thursdays were already sold out. I quickly grabbed the last remaining date.
As high noon approached on Oct. 25th, six Mok Hillian women piled into two cars and headed for Jackson. (We needed two cars because our hats were so big.)
Once we arrived it was all about seeing and being seen. Assembled in the restaurant was a little bit of nearly everything: Two women dressed as Native Americans with feather headdresses, a madam in an eye-popping gown and plumy bonnet, even a dashing baby sporting a fluffy headband—white, of course, to match her diaper.
We were a raucous bunch; women do tend to get noisy when they’re having fun. I think there should be more of that, don’t you? Halloween is history, but ladies lunches are forever. The fancy hat theme was a rare opportunity for creative silliness, but the real agenda was gathering friends together and enjoying a break from daily routines and obligations.
thought in mind, let me list a few favorite lunchtime hangouts:
JEB’S HILL COUNTRY COOKIN’—This is the real deal. Log cabin siding, cowboy paintings, lanterns and saddles. Call it Early Hokey and be prepared to love it. Try the “Rustler’s Favorite,” shaved roast beef tossed with grilled onions and sautéed mushrooms on a Parmesan- grilled French roll. (729 Mono Way, Sonora. Phone: 588-9633. Open daily. Credit Cards accepted.)
GROUNDS—Expect sleek, state- of-the-art décor, lots of chrome highlighting glossy black furniture. Mirrors reflect the action and there’s plenty of it. Grounds is a happening place. My lunchtime choice is the eggplant sandwich. It’s tenderly grilled with smoked mozzarella cheese and pesto, then served with a fresh green salad laced with feta cheese. (402 Main St. Murphys. Phone: 728-8663. Open daily. Credit cards accepted.)
CAMPS—Relax into elegance without pretention. The servers at Camps are real pros who know how to work a room. And the food— admittedly a bit pricey—is prepared with imagination as well as skill. Meats are hand cut in-house, fish choices are fresh, salads hand- tossed. You expect to be well taken care of there and are. Camps is my favorite place to go for fish. Their sole truly has soul. (611 McCauley Rd., Angels Camp. Phone: 736-8181. Lunch served Wednesday through Saturday. Credit cards accepted.)
CADDY’S RESTAURANT—Think large and cheery with well spaced tables allowing for easy conversation. Caddy’s is a natural venue for small groups that want to get together to enjoy conversation along with a great lunch. Every dish I’ve tried was excellent, but my luncheon stand-by is the pulled pork sandwich with chipotle sauce. Recently a small group of friends started off with a round of beer battered onion rings served with chipotle sauce. Delicious! (1000 Castle Oaks Dr., Ione. Phone: 274-0167.
Closed Tuesdays. Credit cards accepted—no checks. Reservations advised.)
MEL & FAYE’S—After more than 50 years, Mel & Faye’s retains its mid-century charm. Listen to a Sinatra soundtrack, see posters from the past. Every bit as classic is M & Fs famous Moo Burger. Try it. But don’t forget that exotic island of green known as the salad bar; it’s super fresh and full of variety. (31 State Hwy. 49/88, Jackson. Phone: 223- 0853. Open seven days a week. Credit cards accepted.)
PICKLE PATCH—Excellent food and classy, competent service. Gretel Allen Tiscornia and her staff turn out the mother of all BLTs—toasted wheat bread liberally laced with cream brie cheese and served with a side of three-bean salad. That’s only the beginning of a choicy menu. Consider avocado and shrimp salad with blue cheese crumbles and red onion. It comes with a cup of potato soup. ( 577 St. Charles St., San Andreas. Phone: 754 1978. Closed weekends. No credit cards—checks and cash only.)
MURPHYS HOTEL—a former stagecoach stop that’s full of memorabilia. Mark Twain dined there, so did Black Bart and J.P. Morgan. I don’t know what they ate, but I know for certain that the bistro’s Caesar salad makes for a great lunch. Then for sheer decadence, follow up with the bistro’s sinful crème brulee. (457 Main St., Murphys. Phone: 728-3444. Credit cards accepted.)
The gang’s all here. A group of Mokelumne Hill women took time off to enjoy lunch and compare hats at Stanley’s Steakhouse in Jackson.
Irene Perbal Boylson enjoys a witchy afternoon at Stanley’s Steakhouse in Jackson.
That old black magic had Ginger Griffin in its spell at a recent “Witches Luncheon” at Stanley’s Steakhouse in Jackson.
Robin Aldrich, left, and Noreen Huberty were among the mad hatters at the first annual “Witches Luncheon” at Stanley’s Steakhouse in Jackson.