LewMarNel’s offers fine wine, best steak around | TahoeDailyTribune.com

LewMarNel’s offers fine wine, best steak around

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports

With all the redevelopment at Park Avenue and Highway 50, one would think that the old charm of Lake Tahoe may be fading. However, tucked away on Park Avenue, two blocks from the lake, you will find that the old charm of Lake Tahoe still exists.

The Best Western Station House Inn is home to LewMarNel’s Restaurant and Bar. LewMarNel’s, an acronym for Lewis, Margite and their son Nelson Wiliford, has been serving the best steaks and wines on the lake for the past 30 years.

Back in early 1970s the late Lewis and Margite Wiliford, developers from the South Bay, established their Station House Inn. Mr. Wiliford, a lover of wine, built one of the best reputations for serving the premier wines of Napa County. The wine list at LewMarNel’s is a road map to vintage California wines, produced by Mondavi, Caymus, Heitz and Stag’s Leap. The wines date back to the 1960s, when wine from California was in its infancy. Nelson Wiliford and general manager Eric Eymann, have reassembled some of the old and new California wines to make LewMarNel’s a multiple Wine Spectator winner.

The Station House Inn was a watering hole for the Pony Express back in the day. The walls of LewMarNel’s are adorned with Wine Spectator Awards, horseshoes that were found on the property, and original Remington statues. All this and empty wine bottles of memorial meals line the shelves. The wood paneling, soft leather booths and warm lighting make the restaurant extremely comfortable.

LewMarNel’s was the choice for my 50th birthday dinner. My family and I were greeted by Kathy, the host of LewMarNel’s, and seated amid the wood and Remingtons. As our server explained the specials, I knew my heart was set on filet mignon. My wife ordered the butterflied shrimp with garlic sauce served with rice pilaf and a medley of broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes and snow peas. The shrimp were excellent.

I chose the eight-ounce filet with a Bernaise sauce. It was outstanding and the best steak at the lake, especially with the twice-baked potato and Caesar salad. All dinners come with choice of soup or salad, baked potato or rice and all-you-can-eat cheese fondue and warm French bread, which is an excellent value.

Chef Vicente Ruelas, who has been grilling up steaks for more than 20 years, offers all the cuts of angus steaks, filets, New York strips and porterhouse, with a great balance of veal, chicken, pasta and fish entrees to round out his menu. The most popular steak is the peppercorn steak, a New York strip grilled with green and black peppercorn and served with a mushroom sauce.

LewMarNel’s is the spot if you’re seeking Tahoe charm, fantastic steaks and unsurpassed wines, all moderately priced. Oh, and by the way, when dining at LewMarNel’s, ask Bob Allen, the restaurant manager, for a magical rose.

LewMarNel’s, is located at 901 Park Ave.; (530) 542-1072.

Peppercorn steak

With more warm weather on tap for this weekend, fire up your barbecue and grill your own peppercorn steak. Here’s my choice:

4 large filet mignons about 11Ú2 inches thick, six to eight ounces

2 tablespoons of cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons of cracked green pepper

1 tablespoon of coarse salt

Place ingredients in shallow metal pan. Gently rub each filet with olive oil. Place each steak in metal pan and press so that pepper and salt mixture adheres to each side of the steak. Place each steak on a clean grill and grill to taste. Three to four minutes each side for rare and seven to eight minutes each side for medium. If you like well-done steak, grill a New York strip and save a few bucks.

Berry Crisp

Harrah’s Executive Chef John Santangelo offers this scrumptious berry dessert.

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 half cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons instant tapioca

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 pints fresh raspberries

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh blackberries

Streusel Ingredients:

1 half cup light brown sugar

1 quarter cup granulated sugar

1 half tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1Ú2 cup all-purpose flour

1Ú2 cup rolled oats

1Ú4 cup cold, unsalted butter

Granulated sugar

Vanilla ice cream

For the filling: Mix together sugars, flour, tapioca, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl. Gently fold in the berries until coated, being careful not to break the fruits’ skins. Set aside.

For the streusel: Fold sugars, cinnamon, salt, flour and oats in a large bowl. Cut cold butter into cubes and add mixture. Blend until the mixture looks like ground meal.

Grease six 8-ounce ramekins and coat with granulate sugar, tapping out the excess. Spoon the berry mixture into the ramekins and top with streusel. Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes. Top each serving with a scoop of ice cream. Serves six. Enjoy!

– Peter Arcuri is the food and wine writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at petervino@aol.com

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