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Dinner in Chester, CA (near Lake Almanor)?

Yes, I know, a bit out of the way, but will be up there in a few weeks and are looking for recommendations for dinner one night. I've never been in the area, and am completely clueless ..... Any price range ok, as long as casual dress is fine. Bonus points if we can walk there from the center of town. (well, somehow I have the feeling that one can walk almost anywhere in Chester. What I really mean is that we'd prefer to eat in town, not at one of the lodges elsewhere around the lake...)

Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. I'm in the area quite often, but I've never had a really good dinner in Chester. I can say some were OK and you won't starve. There are two new suspects this year that I haven’t tried, the Volcano Grill and Carol’s Ranch House. The Volcano looks most promising on paper, as I haven’t noticed it when driving by. I can’t place Carol’s unless it’s that dive which I’ve tried previously. Your fine dinner options are pretty limited in Chester proper and Lake Almanor is pretty tough generally. For example, I made a special trip to try Lakeside at Plumas Pines Resort. They have a very nice dining area on the deck overlooking the lake. However, after trying a couple of appetizers, scanning their wine list (overpriced, nothing drinkable), ordering a couple of Buds and perusing their incredibly overpriced menu, we came home and had hotdogs. Please post if you find something good.

    1. I haven't been in the area in ~7 years. There used to be a restaurant a couple of doors down from the laundrymat, and there is a pizza parlor in town. And, there is a coffee shop, Copper Kettle ? in town. And a Chinese and a Mexican Restaurants. There is a pizza parlor in Westwood too.

      I saw you didn't want to eat at one of the lodges, but if you change your mind, the best place I found to eat in the area is at the lodge/resort next to the dam, IIRC Tuesdays was short rib night. The resort is relatively new, the restaurant/general store is rustic.

      1. My daughter goes to camp in Greenville which is not too far away from Chester. I can offer you the options they list in the parents guide for suggestions when visiting the area. I have not been to most of the don't know if any of them are worth what might be a 20 minute drive but here are some choices anyway (the camp's descriptions are in ( )'s) :

        Lk Almanor:
        Peninusla Grill (Excellent dining with a relaxing and causual atmosphere)
        Tantardino's Pizzeria & Pasta (Great Pizza, great for kids)

        Main St Dinner House

        Moon's (Local's favorite...."best bet" for pizza, Italian and California Cuisine)
        Morning Thunder Cafe (Terrific for lunch and breakfast)
        Sweet Lorraine's & Pangea (good Vegetarian options)

        Beautiful area...have fun!

        4 Replies
        1. re: MSK

          In Quincy:

          Moons is great
          Morning Thunder is really good.

          1. re: bennyboy1

            I love fresh tomatoes. I love Mexican tomato salsa; I love Italian tomato preparations; I love salads with fresh tomatoes. On a trip to England, one thing I could never love was the slimy, half-cooked tomato in the full breakfast. Morning Thunder puts fresh tomatoes in their omelets and cooks them to a perfect slimy state. This is accompanied by somewhat-cooked, slimy red potatoes that cannot be cooked crisp or well done (I asked). I think they try too hard to be upscale. For a great regular breakfast, I go to the Coffee Express in East Quincy for patty sausage with their hot, garlic topping and extra onions in my crispy, home-fried potatoes along with some of the best pancakes in California.

            I’ve had a lot of good meals at Moon’s, not great ones. The food is good but the wine list is really limited for a kind-of-Italian restaurant. We usually settle on the tasty Gewurztraminer, Fetzer “Valley Oaks” with our salad, pizza and pasta. Moons is reliable and has been for years.

            There is fine dining in Plumas County, but it’s at Graeagle: Longboards at Plumas Pines Golf Resort and Firewoods at Gray Eagle Lodge. http://www.plumascounty.org/PDF/2007G...

            But the OP in in Chester, so if I was going to travel for food, I would check out B J’s BBQ and prime rib at Hamilton Branch going east or the St. Bernard to the west. I’ve been to the St. Bernard this year right after they opened for the season and they didn’t quite have their act together. Like Moon’s, I’ve had a lot of good meals there and I hope it gets running smoothly. There is the pricey Peninsula Grill on the peninsula, which does possess a great wine list.

            1. re: bennyboy1

              Last year we had an excellent lunch at
              Cafe Le Coq
              189 Main St
              Quincy, CA 95971
              (530) 283-0114

              So good, and in such a nice setting, that we were really surprised.

              1. re: bill2975

                IMO Cafe Le Cog is the best in Quincy. The dinner menu changes often and the choices are complete dinners: soup, salad, entree and dessert for about $23. They have some good wines at reasonable prices. I got a M. Chapoutier, “Belleruche”, Cotes du Rhone for $28 with our last meal, which we really worked well. The chef/owner is French, as you might guess, and just wants to live in the country. Unfortunately, he is in the middle of a divorce and the restaurant is for sale, so we must enjoy it while we can. Two weeks ago, I tried to eat there and they were completely booked for the evening, so I guess you need reservations on the weekend. I thought the hostess was going to cry when she had to turn us away. I really like this place.

          2. Thanks for the replies so far. Unfortunately, Quincy won't work (too far), and alas, the Gray Eagle Lodge is even further (though I have eaten there and enjoyed it.(but that was YEARS ago...)

            I put the same question to my brother in law who travels in the area fairly regularly, and he recommended the Timber House as the best food in town. Any comments? I tried to look up their website but it is inactive. Hope they haven't gone out of business (not sure how long it has been since BIL was there).

            2 Replies
            1. re: susancinsf

              Your BIL was lucky if he found the old Timber House food edible. I got 2 steaks with rotten meat there in previous years, since it was about the only real dinner house in town. Fortunately, the whole operation is under new management, both the restaurant and motel. It has been remodeled for the better. It used to be so dark you couldn’t see your food, which may have been a blessing. I thought they had a new name for the restaurant, but perhaps not. Unfortunately, I ate at the new Timber House (?) earlier this year and found the food, preparation, wine list, etc. pedestrian (that’s the only word I can find that fits) and I’m no gourmet. They were nice and the food tasted good, but……… The menu seemed limited, so maybe they were just getting started. Maybe they are up and rolling. Maybe a real chef arrived. Maybe they laid-in some good wine. I hope so because Chester needs a good restaurant badly. If you go, please report.

              I just remembered that there is the Lake Almanor Culinary Academy training school just west of town at the intersection of Hwy 89 and Hwy 36. It is mostly open for lunch, but I think it serves some dinners. I eat almost weekly at the one in Oroville, which is outstanding. I’m going to try the school in Chester if I can catch it open.

              Incidentally, I’ve had several outstanding meals at Longboards. They have an incredible, reasonably-priced wine list. It was hard to choose, but we had a wonderful 2001 Aldo Conterno Dolcette d’Alba the week before last, which is almost impossible to find in the US. I would try Longboards before Gray Eagle Lodge, which is excellent also.

              1. re: BN1

                Well, I've eaten at Timber House with said BIL, but its been years. (He travels there more than I do....). I don't remember a room so dark you couldn't see the food, nor do I remember inedible meat. I remember the kind of place where you can have a decent martini or two and then a steak, and maybe the steak doesn't matter after a couple of martinis.

                Seriously, a stellar wine list and gourmet food probably is too much to ask for in Chester. I used to work there and in Greenville twice a month, but that was twenty five years ago...I do remember that if I had to spend the night I would go back to Quincy to do so (and there were decent places to eat there). I also remember that the road between Quincy and the Greenville/Chester area is not one to be taken lightly, especially after a glass of wine or two.

                Sometimes an ok meal and a good drink is all you can ask for. My suggestion is to walk the town and see what appeals to you. And please report back.

                BTW, isn't Longboard's a chain??? Because there is a restaurant with the exact same name in San Diego, is there not??

              1. Funny, there is good wine in Chester at the Holiday Market and they have good coffee too. I got some BBQ at Duval’s Smokehouse (tasty, I thought) but they were out of coffee. After 3 tries, I found coffee at the Holiday Market. They brew Peet’s Coffee on a little side shelf where you pour your own, but I could have gotten a bottle of Klinker Brick Zinfandel for my BBQ instead.

                I don’t see any connection between Longboards at Plumas Pines in Graeagle and RT’s Longboard Grill in San Diego. One is an elegant restaurant and the other has kind of a Tiki Hut theme. One probably refers to old surfboards and the other is at the base of the mountain where ski racing began in the U.S., I believe. The miners rode the ore buckets up Eureka Peak to race their longboards down.

                1. Ate at the Timber House last night. It is under new management and has been completely remodeled. Very good rib-eyes.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mindbank

                    I wonder if Susan ended up eating there. It would be funny to have two chowhounds eating at the same place in the middle of nowhere on the same night (last night was the night she was to be in Chester.....). I think its about time for some hikes up in that area and maybe check out the ribeyes afterwards.

                    1. re: janetofreno

                      I did eat there, and also had the rib eyes, which I thought were good, though not great, but they certainly met or exceeded expectations. The wine list was sad, and the martini would have been just fine if they had served it as I requested: contrary to my order, it came on the rocks (sigh), but since it had taken two reminders to get it (our server may have been underaged, as she said she had to wait for someone else to make it and bring it), I drank it anyway. Other than that glitch, service was very good. I would go back, given the alternatives (or lack of alternatives....)

                      Will post a more complete report later on the trip...but in the meantime, since it may take a few days, wanted to give an update on a few places mentioned in this thread:

                      Volcano Grill was closed every time we went by, looked shuttered for good. Ditto the Saint Bernard Lodge. We thought about the Peninsula Grill, but nixed it based on the prices. Just didn't want to take the chance that mains costing more than $30 in many cases would be worth it: for the prices they charge, I could eat at some of the better spots here in SF. Timber House, OTOH, was reasonably priced.

                    2. re: mindbank

                      That's really good news about the old Timber House. I had dined there off and on for over 20 years and it was a shame when it declined. In the Plumas County Dining Guide, it's now called Johnny's Bar & Grill at Timberhouse , I believe.

                      I've found another listing for a restaurant I've never tried, Chester's Kitchen. I hope someone can report on this one.

                    3. There is now one less restaurant in Chester. I got a letter today from the St. Benard Lodge inviting me to a wine tasting and notifying me that they have closed the restaurant in order to convert the entire operation into a bed and breakfast. I guess there may be public dining available on Friday and Saturday.

                      1. We have a second home in the area and are there frequently although we usually eat at home. Best and most expensive .. Peninsula Grill .. excellent food! Good breakfast on the deck... Carol's. For good pizza go to Westwood's Buffalo Chips. Fun place to drink, enjoy a band and dancing, and have a fun time (food ok) is the deck at Plumas Pines Resort. The Timber House is under new management and the food and atmosphere is better but not great. The Volcano Grill has now closed. Chester Kitchen is new and I haven't tried it but it has been recommended as good for breakfast by locals. The Culinary Academy is ran by Carol who owns CAorl's and is opening open in the winter when her restaurant is closed. I like KnotBumper for lunch. Don't go to Kopper Kettle for any meal.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: njcampos

                          Njcampos, is Carol's Ranch House in Chester the same Carol as Carol's Camp Prattville Cafe?

                          1. re: BN1

                            Carol's Ranch House in Chester and Carol's Camp Pratville Cafe(Carol's Cafe and West Shore Deli) are two totally separate businesses. Find the menu's at http://www.almanor-restaurants.com .

                          1. My husband and I were staying in Chester for the night at the Bidwell House and it was suggested we go ten minutes away to Gambonis Peninsula Grill at Lake Almanor. Boy are we glad we did. The prices were not expensive at all compared to the quality food we received. I had the best Salmon I have ever eaten. The very light encrustment gave it just the right amount of crunch and the preparation was perfect. I could not believe I found this kind of a quality reataurant in the middle of nowhere. You must go there.