Hurrah! Decent food in Elko!
My husband and I live in the San Francisco Bay area and typically drive through northern Nevada once or twice a year on road trips to points beyond. We have long considered it a gastronomic wasteland. A couple nights ago, we rolled into Elko, planning to eat at The Star, our usual default destination. The atmosphere, at least, is lively, and while some of the side dishes taste like they've spent hours at the steam table, at least it's not a chain. But this was Labor Day weekend and The Star had a long wait list. While driving around, we happened to notice that a place called J Ossie's looked pretty popular, so we decided to check it out. Our first indication that we weren't in for the usual Sysco fare came in the waiting area, where we noticed that the chef had prominently displayed his certificates from various culinary academies. But we also wondered if this was going to be one of those places that tries too hard to be "fancy," attempting to disguise mediocre cooking with frou-frou presentations and gloppy cream sauces. What a pleasant surprise it was to walk into the cheerful dining room and find it packed with locals -- couples, families, and large tables filled with ranching folk, all of them enjoying good food, simply presented. I had lamb chops in a fig sauce and my husband had braised short ribs, both accompanied by first rate green salads. Portions were perfect. The by-the-glass wine list had many interesting choices and service was prompt and friendly. With so many restaurants along I-80 dishing out on mass-produced corporate food, it's encouraging to encounter a chef who takes obvious and well-deserved pride in his work.