You know, I love country clubs, especially when I don’t have to pay the annual membership. That’s what I got when I walked into The Chateau in Incline Village. The people were tanned and fit and the welcome was first rate. The smell of grass from the surrounding golf course just lifted my spirits, and the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the greens, gardens and a nice peak at Lake Tahoe didn’t hurt. I could not figure out how I had lived in Tahoe for five years and never discovered this oasis. When their marketing coordinator, Jaclyn Ream, invited me for lunch, I had to do a suspicious Yelp. Maybe this was an undiscovered gem because it wasn’t worthy of note. Man, was I wrong. The Yelp reviews were fabulous, and that is a rarity in my line of work, where someone always has something negative to say about some aspect of his or her dining experience. I mean, Yelpers can sometime be grouchy. Nope, not a one, so I was doubly intrigued.
I was fortunate enough to bring a guest from Paris, which offset the fact I was wearing a Charlie Tomatoes T-shirt from a long defunct country store from way-back-when. He classed up our table on the patio. Though, honestly, for such a fabulous place, it was very relaxed.
The menu is perfectly suited for the season, with gorgeous salads, burgers and inventive sandwiches. I made a point, as usual, of ordering anything considered a “Signature Item” (though I had to hold off on the Reuben sandwich because my guest was an elegant French eater and God knows I would have been wearing half of it before the meal was over). I started with the amazing Poketini, shaken and not stirred. It consisted of tiered pickled ginger, diced cucumber, wakame salad and ahi poke topped with crispy wonton and a zesty mayonnaise. It was beautifully served in a martini class (thus the name) and, I was glad to note, chopsticks (people always forget them — not The Grille). My European counterpart barely looked at the menu and zoomed right in on the Sunset Salad. He must have some kind of expert, speed-order capabilities because it was a great combination of fresh greens tossed with a white balsamic vinaigrette and candied pecans, orange segments, fresh berries and Gorgonzola cheese, then topped with grilled salmon. I wanted it. I am know as a great regretter whenever I go out because I always want the other guy’s food. I think my guest may have been too sophisticated to handle me reaching across the table for a bite, and, when I looked at my salad, I lost all desire to poach his. I went for the Cobb salad, again, because it has a “Signature” rating. I was thinking, “How good could a Cobb salad be, really?” Very, very good it turns out. The blue cheese was rich and fresh and on the side. The chicken was all-white meat and grilled to perfection, the bacon was crispy and not over-crumbled and the tomatoes were flavorful.
The entire Grille experience was excellent, the only bummer being it will only be open through October. Yes, they are seasonal, so catch them while you can and make a point of visiting the pro shop. It makes a girl wish for another snow-less winter.