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Feb 17, 2003 07:31 PM

Restaurant at Convict Lake (longish review).

  • j

Don't be fooled by the rustic looking cabins (athough we enjoyed our stay in them...), the restaurant is wonderful. We ate there Sunday night; its been awhile since I had a meal that good.

Started with the roasted garlic appetizer (sweet and carmelized) served with toast and asiago cheese. Both my husband and I had the house soup: braised beef and barley with watercress. It was perfect for a cold night! For entrees he had the pork chop in a peppercorn/dijon sauce (with mashed potatoes I would have killed for!); I had lamb shank so tender the meat fell off the bone before I even touched it. What we both really liked was the details: fresh baked bread, and vegetables perfectly cooked (including wonderful roasted red onions...). We split a creme brulee for desert. A lot of folks were eating bananas foster; the presentation looks good, but I don't like bananas, what can I say?

BTW, they have a great wine list, with a wide variety of bottles and prices. We settled for a glass of Dry Creek Merlot...we were only able to get a late reservation (last minute) and the round of martinis by the fire in the bar pretty well did us in...

Anyway, if you're anywhere in the Mammoth area, check it out. Look for the Convict Lake exit a few miles south of the south end of the Mammoth Lakes Loop. I'm too tired to figure out links, but I'm sure a yahoo search of the Restaurant at Convict Lake will turn up details.....Dinner for two with a shared appetizer and desert, soup for both, entrees, and two drinks plus one glass of wine around $110 including tax and tip. We definitely felt we got our money's worth. Afterwards we toddled off to bed, pausing just long enough to watch the full moon over the aspens and listen to an old hoot-owl. What could be better than that?

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  1. I agree. We never miss an opportunity to eat here. Dollar for dollar, this is one of the best restaurants in California.

    1. I'm in the middle of researching a trip to this area and came across this older post. I recall reading about this place in the Wine Spectator years ago. They raved about its wine list for its excellent selections and prices. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to try it out.


      3 Replies
      1. re: nja

        I had dinner at Convict Lake last night. While I have eaten there on many occasions and the food has always been acceptable to my wife and I, on this occasion it was different. We decided to sit at the bar and watch the beautiful sunset. I ordered a glass of sauvignon blanc (only one selection by the glass) and the pour was literally two ounces. I looked at the bartender and just waited for her to say "Oh I'm sorry let me get another bottle and finish the pour" (she ran out of wine on the original pour). This wasn't the case and she went about her merry way. The bar area was busy due to a Lakers game in process and I thought her inattentiveness was due to the high volume of traffic. My wife ordered a slightly dirty straight up martini with Belvedere vodka and when my wife took a sip she said that it was like drinking out of a olive bottle. Obviously, the bartender didn't know what "slight dirty" meant. Now let's get to the most important matter of the food. We decided to have appetizers and spice things up a bit instead of ordering two entrees. I ordered Escargot and the snails were dry and tasteless. Here comes the best part - our waitress who was assisting the bartender failed to give me the proper fork for eating Escargot. By the way, I had to ask two times to get the fork and she gave me a look of disbelief that I should even ask for the fork. Imagine trying to eat Escargot with a full size dinner fork. We then ordered the Gulf Prawns appetizer and the Halibut and Scallops appetizer. At this point I was starting to wonder what happened to the good service and of course, the interactions in the kitchen. The Gulf Prawns were cold and tough and the scallops were almost raw. The cream sauce that accompanied the dish was cold. I couldn't believe the food and the service. At this point, I told my wife that it's time to talk to the manager and tell them about the food and the service. At that very moment a very irate customer came up to the bar and started complaining to the bartender about his steak and how terrible it was. Little did I know that the bartender was the manager/owner. She listened to the man and then walked over to the register and called out the chef and I won't tell you what was said about the customer. The chef just laughed along with the bartender/owner. Literally moments after this another waiter came in to say that another group had complained about their dinner. At this point, I decided it would be futile to bring the matter up and I asked for the check and left. Please keep in mind that this took place in the course of 5 minutes and it was obvious that the bartender and chef were already annoyed at the evening's events. Convict Lake has certainly changed for the worse.

        1. re: vont

          Thank you for your report. This seems to be a formula for disaster repeated over and over. Early success, then indiffernce until it finally results in incompetence. This now makes a perfect score: 100% terrible restaurants in the Mammoth area, and that includes the gimmacky Whoa Nellie Deli at Lee Vining.

          Well, at least there are the pies at Rock Creek and the fabulous Gem Lakes trail where the feast is still Nature.

          1. re: vont

            Agree. Link to my post including a short review of Convict Lake...