Lake Tahoe’s Sage Room celebrates 70 years of preserving culinary classics |

Lake Tahoe’s Sage Room celebrates 70 years of preserving culinary classics

Claire Cudahy

A lot has changed in Lake Tahoe since the Sage Room opened at Harveys in 1947. But when you step into the dimly lit steakhouse, amid old western paintings, illuminated bottles of high-end liquors and tuxedo-clad waiters, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Open the menu filled with culinary classics like Beef Wellington, Oysters Rockefeller and Sautéed Frogs’ Legs Provençale, and that feeling gets stronger.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Sage Room at Harveys.

Harvey Gross, a meat retailer from Sacramento, and his wife Llewellyn moved to Lake Tahoe during World War II, and in 1944, the couple opened Harveys Wagon Wheel Saloon and Gambling Hall in Stateline.

The one-room log building had three slot machines, two card tables, a lunch counter and a 24-hour gas pump. Once the California Highway Department, now CalTrans, began regularly clearing Echo Summit during the winter, Tahoe became a year-round destination. Harvey soon expanded the casino and constructed the Sage Room.

Though the steakhouse no longer has a dance floor and nightly live entertainment, the restaurant contains other nods to the past: original lampshades crafted by the Washoe Tribe and gifted to Harvey and Llewellyn and the bar and hand-hewn beams from the original log building that housed Harveys Wagon Wheel.

The Sage Room specializes in tableside service. Order the Steak Diane and the filet mignon is flambéed tableside with mushrooms, demi glaze and brandy. The dressing for the Caesar salad is whisked to perfection in front of the diners before being tossed with romaine lettuce, house-made croutons and freshly grated Parmesan.

If you’re looking for more flames, cap the meal with an order of Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee (both prepared tableside).

“It’s a Tahoe tradition for generations,” said John Packer, Harveys spokesman. “I’ve had people say, ‘My grandpa used to come here and he brought me when I was little.’ And I’m talking to somebody who’s 70 years old.”

A number of the employees have worked at the Sage Room anywhere from 10 to 30 years.

“The food is consistent; all of our dishes that have been here for decades are the same. I also strongly believe it’s our service,” said maître d’ Ozzie Sanchez, who has worked at the restaurant for 20 years. “We strive passionately to provide everyone with great service, as if they were dear close friends.”

The restaurant is celebrating its legacy all year long with a $70 three-course meal option highlighting a handful of the restaurant’s signature dishes, like the Sage Steak: a 12-oz. New York steak topped with poblano peppers, onions and Gorgonzola cheese served with shallot mashed potatoes.

The Sage Room, located on the second floor of Harveys, is opened Thursday – Monday.

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