By Melissa Wynn
While visiting Eastern Plumas County for a Valentine’s Day getaway my better half and I decided to treat ourselves to a classy dinner out. The Grizzly Grill in Blairsden was just a few miles from Chalet View Lodge (our lodging for the evening) and came highly recommended by the locals for fine dining and a great atmosphere.
We were graciously welcomed by owner/operator Randi Collier and the wonderful aroma of simmering marinara sauce. A chic rustic decor with muted, gas lamp lighting invited us to relax and enjoy. This was just the place we were looking for, upscale dining with that home town feel. Several stretched canvas photos of this beautiful part of the Sierra, by local I-Phone photographer Casey Moran, graced the walls. Who knew such stunning photos could come from a cell phone? Randi loves to showcase local artists and the ever changing wall decor is another reason for us to visit again and again.
Although the wine list was filled with tempting choices, we began with brewed iced tea and real homemade lemonade. A light and tender mini loaf of fresh baked bread accompanied our drinks when our cheerful server Shannon came to take our order.
Good calamari is often hard to find so I am usually skeptical about ordering it, but this was a special occasion. It arrived piping hot, lightly browned and cooked to tender perfection. Chef and co-owner Chris Simone knows his calamari! Served with house made tartar and cocktail sauces, this was an appetizer that could have made my meal.
As the empty calamari plate disappeared, our salads of super fresh and crisp greens, tomato and cucumber arrived topped with a marvelous honey dijon dressing for me and perfectly tangy vinaigrette for my date. We nibbled them with the spectacular bread and had a wonderful chat with Portola locals Dan and Chris Wilson seated at the table next door. Dan ordered the Roasted Lamb Shank, huge and falling off the bone in a divine Merlot Sauce while Chris enjoyed the Shrimp Scampi atop a bed of rice with lemon, capers and wonderful herbs. A bottle of white wine topped off their wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner.
We learned that Chris Simone and Randi Collier purchased the Grizzly Grill in July of 2015 and quickly inspired a local following including the Wilsons. Many of the guests on that busy Monday in February greeted Randi with a familiar hug. It was like dining with a group of old friends that were eager to welcome us into the fold.
As we were pushing away the salads, trying to save room for our entrees, Shannon magically reappeared to take them away. Almost immediately she returned with my Chicken Parmesan, a cut with a fork chicken breast, lightly breaded, topped with melting mozzarella and the amazing steaming, home made marinara that had tempted my senses when I walked in the door. The Seafood Medley was my date’s self indulgence and indulgent describes this dish oh so accurately. Lobster and crab bites made themselves at home atop a bed of linguini bathed in a lemony olive oil and herb sauce. He had to ask Shannon to box the second half before he ate himself into misery. He found it impossible to see this amazing dish and put down the fork at the same time. Apparently I now need to “learn to make that.” I think I will leave that to the pros and use it as bait to come again.
If I would have had room for another bite I would have sampled a dessert. Choices included my personal favorite, a rich and creamy Creme Brûlée, hot Apple Pie and Chocolate Decadence Cake just to name a few. We walked away stuffed and happy that we chose the Grizzly Grill for our romantic evening out.
You too can sample their tasty fare Thursday – Monday during the winter months and seven days a week all summer long from 11- 9 p.m. just half a mile from the junction of Interstate 70 and Ca State HWY 89. Catering for weddings and all of your events is another Grizzly Grill specialty. Call Randi for menu options and pricing details. 250 Bonta Street Blairsden, CA +1.530.836.130