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Truckee’s Moody’s Bistro offers atmosphere with its entrées

Ashley A. Cooper
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
Moody's Winter Bounty Quinoa (front) and Salmon Creek pork chop (back) provide delicous options in Truckee.
Courtesy Ashley A. Cooper | Lake Tahoe Action

If you go

What: Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats

When: Everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., later if live music is playing

Where: 10007 Bridge Street, Truckee

Price: $-$$$

Atmosphere: Cool, mountain class. Come as you are, or get dolled up. Good for dates, families, friends, functions in the private dining area.

Wine and drinks: An extensive wine list with glasses from $5-$45 and wine on tap. The cocktails are inventive and fun, with a finely procured spirits selection and homemade whiskey aging in barrels.

Upcoming music: Thursday: Jesse Dunn, Friday: The Aaron Oropeza Ensemble, Saturday: Andy Frasco and the U.N.

Info: http://www.moodysbistro.com

Reservations accepted, wheelchair access throughout the restaurant

Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats takes its name not from the cool and cozy atmosphere that envelopes guests when they pass through the entrance’s heavy red velvet drapes, but from the historic Truckee Hotel with which it shares its walls and owners, JJ Morgan and Leo Burke. John F. Moody constructed the American House, aka the Whitney House, during Truckee’s Wild West days, and in 2002, the restaurant carried on his namesake. While the building’s exterior still exudes its 1873 Old West nostalgia, especially by the fire as a train chugs by, Moody’s is anything but rustic.

Inside, it’s all mountain class. The hanging bulbs dimly light the stately wood bar, candlelit tables and sharply dressed servers. On weekends the lounge moonlights as a dance floor and fills with the jazzy and funky instrumentals of local and visiting musicians.

Once seated, the service is impeccable. Our server Craig has enthusiastically served the clientele of Moody’s since 2004, only two years after JJ Morgan and his then-partner Chef Mark Estee opened its doors.

From the start Moody’s was about the music. Chef Estee has gone on to open Reno’s Campo, Provisions, Heritage and Chez Louie, so the quality of the food was a given. Impassioned by music, JJ concentrated on cultivating a thriving jazz culture in Truckee.

A little over two years ago, Chef William Burns took over as executive chef, and he is excelling with distinctive dishes inspired by fresh ingredients and small local farms (such as Niman Ranch, Salmon Creek and Tecumseh Farms).

“Regional, Organic, Seasonal Whenever Possible,” the menu changes seasonally to breathe renewed life into classic mainstays and introduce new dishes.

After a wine tasting, we requested whatever dishes kept people coming back. I was more than a little excited when the truffle fries with spicy arugula and shaved parmesan landed on our table, causing people to turn in their seats to follow the mouth-watering smell.

Next arrived the chiogga beet and avocado salad and crispy brussel sprouts with a lemon vinaigrette and bacon aioli, a perfect snack with the $5 unoaked chardonnay. The beet salad is beautifully plated with marcona almonds, caracara orange slices, pickled fennel, creamy avocado and a ball of stretchy burrata cheese.

For dinner, each artfully crafted entrée tempts the guest. Pastas are made in-house every afternoon, and the pizzas are cooked in a 700-degree brick oven. We decided on the vegetarian Winter Bounty Quinoa and the Salmon Creek pork chop.

A cornucopia of textures and colors with sweet carrot puree streaking across the plate, the Winter Bounty pleases the eye as much as the mouth.

This is not the feared afterthought vegetarian entrée, it is complex, robust, rich and transforms with the harvest.

The pork chop is not your average chop either. Farm-raised, brined, cooked at a low temperature and grilled and roasted to order, its perfect preparation inspires one to forgo grace and eat the last bites, chop in hand, face in chop. Auburn grits, apple-slaw and apple cranberry sauce complement it perfectly, especially with a glass of the White Rhone Blend, one of their five wines on tap.

For dessert: Maple semi-freddo with crunchy bacon brittle, chocolate and house-made honeycomb — decadence incarnate.

From start to finish, Moody’s creates a total sensory experience and has carved out a unique and irreplaceable niche for itself in the heart of Truckee.

Ashley A. Cooper is a freelance writer residing in Truckee. She can be reached at aacooper18@gmail.com.


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