St George Hotel - Whiskey Flat Saloon - A Lively Place to Wait
Sierra Lodestar 04/08/09

Whiskey Flat Saloon: A Lively Place to Wait By Antoinette May Herndon

When Ingrid and Katrina, “girl friends” from the big city, came to visit they wanted to see Daffodil Hill and the Black Chasm Cavern. They also wanted authentic Gold Rush atmosphere.

I figured that the Whiskey Flat Saloon in Volcano’s historic St. George Hotel was about as authentic as it gets. It’s also conveniently close to the other two attractions. Lunch seemed a natural.

The actuality was an eating adventure. Whiskey Flat Saloon is a rootin’ tootin’ place where you really have to stay on top of things. Including your food order.

Business was brisk when we arrived around noon. It got a lot brisker as more and more of the flower friendly dropped by on their way to or from Daffodil Hill.

We placed our orders early with the bartender and settled back to chitchat and enjoy the ambience. Whiskey Flat looks like a saloon should look: old, dark, with a long bar that you can really belly up to. Are you mature enough to remember “Gun Smoke”? Perhaps it was a GQ reporter with a long ago crush on Miss Kitty who listed Whiskey Flat Saloon

as the 4th best bar in the world, aced only by watering holes in Tokyo, Montreal and Venice.

When the bartender/server came back with new menus, we began to worry. The place was filling up. We reminded him that we’d already ordered, refreshed his memory on what, and sat back hopefully.

Whiskey Flat Saloon is a good place to talk and people watch. We’re old friends with lots of catching up to do. but after awhile I got down to reading the business cards tacked on the wall atop one dollar bills. People will do almost anything to kill time while they wait.

We began to see people importuning the waiter, even chasing after him, presumably to the kitchen. When he returned, I was waiting in the doorway. What would Matt Dillon have done, I wondered.

“It’s coming,” he assured me with a pleasant, almost beatific smile. “I’ll get you some wine. The house wine, “Our Zin,” ($4) is pretty good. We waited.

Twenty minutes later the food arrived. Sort of. Ingrid loved her Bangers & Mash, two plump bratwursts served with garlic smashed potatoes, grilled onions. ($9.95.) I had the Philly Cheese Steak, tender

beef, red bell peppers, provolone cheese on Ciabata roll with horseradish mayo. (9.95.) It may have been the best I’ve ever had.

Katrina wasn’t so lucky. Her Guido Salad never made it—at least not to our table. Hopeless to order again, we decided. We split our servings among the three of us and were just finishing up when the deep fried breaded green beans with curried-ranch dressing ($7.97) arrived. Ordered originally as an hors d'oeuvre, the beans were tasty and filled in for a dessert.

So that was our Whiskey Flat Saloon experience. Excellent food, old west ambience, and a Zen-like waiter who moves at his own pace calmly through chaos. Would I go again? With good companions and lots of time? Sure, in a heart beat. A long heart beat.

VITALS: 16104 Main St., Volcano. 296-4458. Sunday from 9:30 a.m. on. Wednesday and Thursdays from 5 on. Friday and Saturday from noon on. Credit cards accepted. The St. George Hotel, circa 1862, one of the state’s first 3-story buildings, has ten attractively decorated bedrooms.


1) The St. George Hotel